Weekly Review: Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016)

In order to save her friend Hatter, Alice returns to Underland to embark on an impossible mission. Will she be able to cheat the sands of time and escape the Red Queen’s clutches?

Alice Through the Looking Glass is a sequel to Tim Burton’s 2010 rendition of Alice in Wonderland. Although this sequel isn’t directed by Burton, he did serve as one of the film’s producers. Through the Looking Glass is directed by James Bobin and written by Linda Woolverton. Woolverton wrote the screenplay for the 2010 film, as well as many other financial successes, including Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and Maleficent.

The cast of the 2010 original returned for this sequel. This of course includes Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, Anne Hathaway as the White Queen, Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen, Mia Wasikowska as Alice, and additional roles played by Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen, and Timothy Spall. Alan Rickman also returned to his role as Absolem, his final film role before his death.

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Within this sequel, Alice is once again up against the real life conflicts of growing up. How much childhood imagination and wonder can you really maintain as an adult? When she embarks on her mission in Underland, she begins to understand more about herself and the position she finds herself in outside of the wonderful, alternate universe.

Alice is called to Underland in order to save her friend Hatter, who has become incredibly withdrawn while thinking about his lost family. He was always thought they perished in the Red Queen’s rage, but he discovers a minor detail that may mean they are still alive. He knows that Alice would be the only person to believe him, so he entrusts her with his livelihood. She fears that the mission is impossible, mirroring her own predicament in her own life.

Through her journey, Alice meets Time, a new character added to the universe, played by Sacha Baron Cohen. This character is the personification of time itself, and Alice has to trick him in order to try to save her friend. She finds herself on a journey through time, where she learns important lessons. I really liked the character of Time. He was a bit ditzy. His role was probably my favorite part of the movie.

Unfortunately, for me, when it came to watching Alice Through the Looking Glass, I wasn’t able to stay fully engaged. The story stays in very traditional waters, seeming more like a parable that we already know. You can’t change the past. The story felt very uninspired to me, and this was only exacerbated by the massive amount of fantastical visuals. It feels like the visuals were compensating.

Alice Through the Looking Glass is visually stunning. There are large amounts of color, fantastic sights, and overall wonderful imagery. At many times, this just seems like you’re being beaten over the head with the magic of it all. Pay no attention to the lack of original story behind the curtain!

Most critic reviews of this movie are negative. Many refer to this movie as being┬áloud and obnoxious, which I can definitely agree with. Matt Zoller Seitz from Roger Ebert described the film as if it were flashing MAGIC and WONDER across the screen at you, while the story left you with an absence of both of those qualities. Again, I agree. The story isn’t necessarily bad, but it does leave much to be desired.

There are definitely still some very interesting moments through the movie. As I mentioned earlier, I really enjoyed the character of Time. I enjoyed the origin story of the Red Queen and her literal swollen head. It’s not all bad. It just isn’t that great.

The best way to watch Alice Through the Looking Glass would probably be to just sit back and enjoy it for the silly, no brainer, visual spectacle that it is. Don’t go into it looking for much else. You probably won’t find it.

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