Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Acting, effects, decent story
Cons: No connection to the book, ending a bit rushed and forced
The Bottom Line:
No connection to the book
As Alice helps friends
“It’s Impossible!” “You Know How I Feel About That Word.”
I don’t follow upcoming movies nearly as much as I used to, so I hadn’t heard Disney was making Alice Through the Looking Glass until this year. I honestly wasn’t sure whether to be excited, warry, or both. I enjoyed Tim Burton’s 2010 variation on the classic to a certain extent, and since this was going to be a sequel without him involved, it could be good or horrible. And they weren’t even thinking about following the book with the same name but doing something with time. I’ll admit, I didn’t really go into the movie with an open mind, but I wound up enjoying it.
It’s been three years since we last visited Alice (Mia Wasikowska). During that time, she’s been traveling the world as the captain of her father’s old ship, buying and selling things to bring back to England. Only when she returns, she learns that her father’s partner’s son is now in charge. That man just happens to be Hamish (Leo Bill), the man she embarrassed by publicly turning down when he proposed marriage.
Hamish has not forgiven Alice, and he has concocted a way to get even with her. While she is still reeling from his plan, she spots Absolem (voiced by Alan Rickman), the caterpillar turned butterfly. He leads her through a mirror and back to Wonderland.
And she’s arrived just in time, too. It turns out the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) has just seen something that reminds him of his family. He didn’t leave on good terms with them, and then they died before he could make amends. The reminder is slowly killing him. The only chance to save him is for Alice to go back in time and save his family. To do that, she needs the chronosphere, which is carefully guarded by Time himself (Sacha Baron Cohen). Can Alice go back in time and fix things? Or will she run out of time?
Those who know the book are already shaking their heads. This has nothing at all to do with the book of the same name. Having said that, there is a fun scene near the beginning that winks at a couple of things from book before the adventure really begins. Of course, almost every movie version of the books combines elements from both to begin with. For example, Tweedledee and Tweedeldum (Matt Lucas) and the White Queen (Anne Hathaway) are both from Through the Looking Glass and not Alice in Wonderland at all. So really, you have to take this film on its own merits.
And those merits turn out to be pretty good. I’ve got to say, I actually was surprised by a twist or two along the way. Not to say the ending is completely original, but it is fun. The way the moral is layered in is good as well, and it never gets in the way of the story. In fact, it helps Alice out of a jam or two before everything is said and done. The ending did feel rushed and that hurt the film, but that’s a minor point overall.
And, yes, Helena Bonham Carter’s Red Queen is back again as well. She’s not quite as over the top this time around, and I actually liked her character better here as a result. In fact, the original actors or voice actors are all back, and they do a fantastic job again. Meanwhile, the new cast members fit perfectly into this wacky world.
Special effects are king here as they were the first time around, and you can tell how much better they’ve gotten in the past 6 years. I had a hard time with some effects early on in the movie, but as it went along, I had an easier time believing what I was seeing. Or maybe it was because I got caught up in the story.
So forget everything you think you know about the book when you go to see this film. Yes, it’s a sequel, but it turns out that Alice Through the Looking Glass is a sequel worth watching.