Adaptation Adventure

'Alice Through the Looking Glass' Blu-ray Review: Disney's live-action sequel boasts more of the same

November 7, 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 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 rescue the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) from a deep depression by traveling back in time to prevent the tragic death of the Hatter's family. But 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 before, and we also get to learn more about her tenuous relationship with her sister, Mirana (Anne Hathaway).

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.

Of course, the film's target audience — you know, kids 12 and under — probably won't care much about Alice Through the Looking Glass's shortcomings. Luckily for them, the movie boasts no shortage of surreal, multicolored and over-the-top cartoony computer-generated imagery to keep their eyes transfixed on the screen. And it all comes across wonderfully on this Blu-ray, which features a stunning 1080p transfer that delivers razor-sharp picture quality and plenty of bold and vibrant colors, with not a single flaw to be found anywhere in the image. Likewise, the accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound mix proves equally satisfying, whether it's the thunder, lightning, crashing waves and cannon fire that permeate the film's opening, the Jabberwocky's fiery roar, or the ever-present tick-tock of clocks and the grinding of gears in Time's castle.

Disney's two-disc Blu-ray release includes an iTunes digital copy, a DVD and the following Blu-ray extras:

  • Behind The Looking Glass (8:39) - A behind-the-scenes look at the film, its production design, its new and returning characters, and Sacha Baron Cohen's portrayal of Time.
  • A Stitch In Time: Costuming Wonderland (4:24) - A look at costume designer Colleen Atwood's work on the film, in particular her designs for Alice, the Hatter, the Red Queen and Time.
  • Characters Of Underland (4:47) - A look at the film's characters, from McTwisp, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, The Cheshire Cat and Thackery to Mallymkun, Absolem and Wilkins.
  • Time On... (1:46) - Sacha Baron Cohen, in character as Time, shares his thoughts on Lewis Carroll, becoming an icon, and the finished film.
  • Alice Goes Through The Looking Glass: A Scene Peeler (2:27) - A look at the construction of the scene where Alice goes through the Looking Glass, from the original blue screen footage to the final version with completed visual effects.
  • Alice Goes Through Time's Castle: A Scene Peeler (1:33) - Another scene deconstruction, this time, for the scene where Alice goes through Time's Castle for the first time.
  • Music Video: "Just Like Fire" By Pink (3:58) - The official music video for the song that plays over the film's end credits.
  • Behind The Music Video (3:02) - A behind-the-scenes look at the making of Pink's music video.
  • Audio Commentary - Director James Bobin talks about shooting the film, the production design, the visual effects, the musical score, the filming locales, the story and its characters, and more.
  • Deleted Scenes With Audio Commentary (8:56) - Five scenes, playable with or without audio commentary by director James Bobin ("Alice's Bedroom And Rabbit Hole," "Alice Tackles Hamish," "Time Comforts Racie In The Sitting Room," "Racie In the Castle" and "Time Can't Follow Alice").

Alice Through the Looking Glass is available from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment as of October 18th, 2016. The Blu-ray features English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, and English Dolby Digital 2.0 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles. The total runtime is 1 Hr. 53 Mins.

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on May 27th, 2016.

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