Wonder, Revisited: Our Review of ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - May 27, 2016
Wonder, Revisited: Our Review of ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’

There is something both commendable and disheartening about a beloved literature classic being re-imagined and re-tinkered – but it’s more so the latter when said classic is itself about imagination and tinkering.

Alice Through the Looking Glass, the expected though not necessarily anticipated sequel to the surprisingly successful live action Alice in Wonderland, loosely follows Lewis Carroll’s story while taking many liberties, for better and worse.

There is still plenty capricious, silly, and magical in the family friendly story, including a pretty spectacular wild race of a finish literally across time and space. But perhaps the most depressing thing about this return to Wonderland is not so much a lack of imagination, but the limits of it. That includes when it comes to both making Hollywood films as well as telling stories.


Indeed there is already a template set, so director James Bobin, taking over for Tim Burton, has both a foundation from which to operate but also some large shoes to fill. He expands that base, but it’s one which appeals to rather generic sensibilities of what is weird in film. That is to say, Alice brings back all the actors – Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Deep, Helena Bonham Carter – who are generally thought of as great actors while also being somewhat odd and intriguing. He also brings in another actor who has a reputation for the same in Sasha Baron Cohen.

What’s more we have a group of talking animals and odd looking humans, as well Queens’ guards who are animated vegetables. Throw in the ability to travel through time, and Mr. Cohen as the personification of Time who lives in a giant clock and has minions named Seconds who can join together to make Minutes and Hours, and you’ve yourself an entertaining movie that is about imagination but not at all imaginative.

Alice is fun to be sure, following our heroine on a quest to find the Mad Hatter’s family and in turn save the Hatter from deathly heartbreak. Wasikowska is captivating and inspiring, a truly impressive heroine on screen that doesn’t require weapons or war paint to be important. While Deep’s Hatter is reduced to being far more sad than mad, which is rather boring, Cohen’s Time is cartoonishly menacing, becoming the instrument for and product of many a pun, all of which are delivering right on, well, time. Ahem.

There is little that isn’t beautiful and enjoyable about Alice, but at the same time, there isn’t anything particularly new or invigorating. It’s a welcome return to this world, and there is no reason why there shouldn’t be more stories told here; Disney of course is looking to bank again on this tale, but this isn’t the case of a film unnecessarily making a sequel.alicethroughthelookingglass_trailer_disn_969726ca

A film whose story rests so much in the weird and wild is hamstrung from the start for not only having to create something special on screen, but stand next to its predecessor, neither too close nor too far away. Thus Alice rests on it’s simple story, talented cast, and pretty images to carry us through the rather conventional and now familiar.


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Anthony is a lover of a good story in any form, on any subject. Tirelessly navigating filmdom, he is equal parts an unbridled idealist and stubborn curmudgeon, trying to strike a balance between head and heart when it comes to pop culture. He pens stories about television, music, the environment, lifestyles, and all things noteworthy and peculiar.