Adventure Alice Through the Looking Glass

'Alice Through the Looking Glass' Film Review: Engaging visual effects compensate for an overcomplicated plot

May 27, 2016Ben MK

Time is money, and that's especially true in Hollywood, for the longer you wait to make a sequel, the lesser the chances that moviegoers will be clamoring to see it. Still, that hasn't stopped the makers of Alice Through the Looking Glass. On the contrary, they've even embraced this notion of racing against time, incorporating it — quite literally — into the film's story.

Directed by The Muppets and Muppets Most Wanted director James Bobin, this sequel to Tim Burton's 2010 reimagining of Lewis Carroll's classic tale finds Alice Kingsleigh (Mia Wasikowska) returning to Underland once more. This time, she must help her friends — including Mirana the White Queen (Anne Hathaway), Tweedledee and Tweedledum (Matt Lucas), Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry), White Rabbit (Michael Sheen) and Absolem the blue butterfly (Alan Rickman) — save the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), who's fallen into a deep depression.

Here's the rub, though. For in order to restore the Hatter to his usually giddy state of mind, Alice has to once again accomplish the impossible. More to the point, she must travel back in time and prevent the tragic death of the Hatter's family, who were killed by the Jabberwocky on that fateful Horunvendush Day so many years ago. And to do that, she must first sneak her way into the castle belonging to Time himself (Sacha Baron Cohen), so that she can abscond with the one thing that will allow her to go back and rewrite the past: the Chronosphere.

Although the plot may sound nonsensical, truth be told, it's really just overly complex. If you have the patience and the resolve to follow along, however, writer Linda Woolverton's script does deliver some worthwhile tidbits for fans of the first movie, fleshing out the backstories of both the Hatter and his mortal enemy, Iracebeth the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter). In the process, we get to see the latter painted in a much more sympathetic light than in Alice in Wonderland, and we also get to learn more about her tenuous relationship with her sister Mirana.

Of course, the film's target audience — you know, kids 12 and under — probably won't care as much about character backstories. Luckily for them, Alice Through the Looking Glass features no shortage of surreal, multicolored and over-the-top cartoony computer-generated imagery to keep their eyes transfixed on the screen. Meanwhile, adult fans of Doctor Who or Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure will probably be entertained by the story's time travel aspect, which culminates in a race to stop a time paradox from consuming all of Underland.

The film also has slight feminist undertones to it. However, the theme of female empowerment is primarily used to bookend the story, and doesn't really play an integral role in the main narrative itself. Overall, Alice Through the Looking Glass has little to do with the book of the same name, and exists simply as a whimsical — if not slightly convoluted and unnecessary — return trip to Underland. That being said, if you enjoyed yourself the first go-round, it's likely that you'll consider this new journey to be time well spent.

Alice Through the Looking Glass releases May 27th, 2016 from Walt Disney Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of PG for fantasy action/peril and some language. Its runtime is 1 Hr. 48 Mins.

You May Also Like