Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures 113 Minutes PG
ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS continues following the colorful characters of ALICE IN WONDERLAND, but in even more garish costumes and even more outrageous makeup than the first adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s fantasy. The original live action movie featured the same draw; Johnny Depp as a mad Mad Hatter, only we get his sad and depressing background showing why he is the way he is. It’s pretty disturbing. And he’s pretty scary looking, especially with that clown white face, orange wig and goofy space between his front teeth. Even the tea party is boring with characters who are less than whimsical, warm and engaging. We miss the fun characterizations of the old Cheshire Cat and the White Rabbit, too.
The 2010 version directed by Tim Burton was dark and weird. It was not embraced for the way it was crafted, or for presenting the less than warm fuzzy characters, but audiences attended in droves. It was one of the first 6 films to hit the billion dollar mark world wide.
Now, Director James Bobin (Da Ali G. Show, Flight of the Conchords and upcoming 23 Jump Street) makes Mia Wasikowska, as Alice, stronger and more rebellious that she was in the first movie. Bobin says he made it with the eldest of his three children in mind. Daughter Maddy was 8 when he began making the film and he was relieved and glad when she gave her approval.
Right from the get-go, Alice is scaling the mast of her father’s ship to save it and the crew navigating through a raging storm. Then, throughout the film, the strong- willed Alice stands up to everybody, including Sacha Baron Cohen who plays Time. He looks more like the Wizard of Oz gone wrong in that suit with extended shoulder wings that could have been used a lot more for comic effect. If the suit was supposed to be funny, it wasn’t.
The biggest problem? Alice’s interactions with Sacha Baron Cohen’s character, Time. She wants to use a device called a “chronosphere” to go back in time to try to save the Mad Hatter “who has lost much of his muchness.” The time travel in this film makes it difficult to follow. Where is Alice and when did this happen, before or after the last time travel? What has already happened, when and where are we going now? We bounce around like Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee.
Helena Bonham Carter as The Red Queen and Ann Hathaway, back as The White Queen, are the good and bad sisters. You get their back story. You want The Red Queen to have a heart as big as her head, but, instead, she has a head bigger in size and shaped as a heart. She’s so odd looking, all out of proportion. It takes too long to tell that part of the story.
Michael Sheen, Stephen Fry, Timothy Spall are among the actors who did voices for some of the old as well as some new characters. Included are the dulcet tones of Alan Rickman as Absolem. This was his last acting performance for the big screen. He passed away early this year and the filmmakers pay tribute to him during the credits.
It takes a long time to get to the message; the importance of family. It’s disjointed going from Alice’s adventures with the Mad Hatter, Time and everybody elsm, plus dealing with the shipping company and her single Mom. Of course her father died. It’s a Disney movie!
The music by Danny Elfman is fine. Pink's song over the end credits is very contemporary, and truthfully, her acrobatics in the music video for the song "Just like Fire" are more interesting than much of this movie.
Is this worth your bucks? There are plenty of eye catching visuals, but this film is all over the place. Follow Alice and you’re sure to get as confused as she is. We didn’t find it engaging or entertaining. It takes too long to get wherever it’s going and you might not want to go there. Still, this film will probably do well at the box office by continuing the adventures of this feisty female and her mad buddy. The question? Can the filmmakers go through the Looking Glass this time and find box office gold again? It all depends on Depp’s Mad Hatter.