Directed by James Bobin. Starring Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Sacha Baron Cohen, Matt Lucas, Alan Rickman, Stephen Fry, Timothy Spall.
THE PLOT: With The Mad Hatter (Depp) fading fast because no one believes him when he says his family is still alive, it’s left to Alice (Wasikowska) to travel to Time himself (Baron Cohen) in the hope of rewriting history. Also trying to bend Time’s ear though is the wicked Iracebeth (Bonham Carter), determined to get her revenge on her goody-goody sister, Mirana (Hathaway), and finally wrestle the reigns of the kingdom from her. Stealing the Chronosphere, Alice jumps back in time, in the hope of saving the Mad Hatter’s family, and, by extension, the Mad Hatter himself, but such a move puts Time on a countdown to death. And the Red Queen on the warpath…
THE VERDICT: There’s plenty going right in Hollywood these days, especially when it comes to comicbook franchises, but ‘Alice Through The Looking Glass’ is a great big shining example of how it can all go horribly wrong too in these Franchise Is King times. A sorry sequel to an even sorrier blockbuster smash, the dark sarcasm of Burton and Depp has fallen so very, very far since that 2010 hit that they’ve each become box-office poison. Burton keeps to the shadows these days, retreating ever-more into the indie world in search of a credibility kick, whilst Depp, sadly, has morphed into the new Nicolas Cage.
It doesn’t help that the strangely ageing Depp looks like the child of Madonna and Finbar Furey here.
There are quite a few casualties in ‘Alice Through The Looking Glass’. Hands up who cares about one-time Oscar contender and box-office sweetheart Anne Hathaway these days? And poor James Bobin, taking the helm on the Titanic after making his mark with ‘Flight Of The Conchords’ and then experiencing both the joy and the pain of Hollywood with, respectively, ‘The Muppets’ (2011) and ‘Muppets Most Wanted’ (2014). With Burton retreating to the safety of a producing role here, poor Bobin has been handed something of a poisoned teacup here. Sure, the first ‘Alice’ outing made over a billion, but that’s when teenagers would flock to anything Johnny did, especially when it was with his longtime partner in gothic grime, Dr. Tim. The dullness of that movie, along with the likes of ‘Charlie & The Chocolate Factory’ and ‘Dark Shadows’, put paid to that blind, rabid fanbase though.
And how difficult must it have been for Depp and Carter here – once part of two golden, bestest bud couples who had the world at their feet, and adoring kooks at their electric gates, and now dealing with all kinds of shrapnel crazy?
The only saving grace here is Sacha Baron Cohen as Time, delivering the movie’s handful of funny lines, and somehow managing to convince in a world of over-saturated CGI and drowning box-office champs.
Review by Paul Byrne

Alice Through The Looking Glass
Review by Paul Byrne
1.0A sorry sequel
  • filmbuff2011

    Tim Burton’s 2010 take on Disney’s Alice On Wonderland was a colourful treat, becoming one of that year’s biggest hits. A sequel was inevitable, but it now seems belated and sorely lacking the directorial quirkiness of Burton, who is otherwise occupied with his upcoming film Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children. Maybe just as well.

    Alice (Mia Wasikowska) now travels the high seas as captain of her late father’s ship. Returning home, she faces domestic difficulties as her mother Helen (Lindsay Duncan) wants to sell the family business. It’s at this point that she’s lured back to Wonderland by Absolem (Alan Rickman), by entering the mirror of the title. Her attention is needed back in this magical world, as the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) is fading away fast, guilt-ridden by past memories of losing his family to the Jabberwocky at the behest of evil Queen Iracebeth (Helena Bonham Carter). In order to save the Mad Hatter, she must take a trip through time and see if she can alter the future. In order to do so, she must first confront Time himself (Sacha Baron Cohen) and ‘borrow’ the Chronosphere that runs the master clock. With time running out, can she save her truest friend from a life without teatime forever?

    Adapted only loosely from Lewis Carroll’s book by Linda Woolverton, Alice Through The Look Glass starts promisingly with an exciting scene set at sea. Once Alice returns to Wonderland, things start to get worryingly pedantic. Director James Bobin desperately tries to inject some life into the proceedings, but it’s a rather dull story centred around an attempt to save a not-particularly interesting character. In a particularly bad week for Johnny Depp’s offscreen life, things aren’t much better with this film. No doubt Disney will want to do damage control, but it seems that the film’s fate is already sealed at the box office. His Mad Hatter has gone from amusing to extremely irritating, his squeaks of delight and sadness grating on the nerves like nails on a blackboard. Wasikowska is merely going through the motions, her feisty talent squandered by a heavy-handed script that pays more attention to oversized-head Iracebeth than our apparent lead.

    There are two saving graces. The first is Baron Cohen. After the feeble Grimsby, he’s clearly back on form with the brilliantly realised Time. Playing him with a spot-on Werner Herzog-style German accent, he’s both threatening and oddball eccentric by turns. It’s a stand-out performance in an otherwise mixed bag of performances. The other saving grace is Dan Hennah’s gorgeous production design, which makes innovative use of representing how we perceive time onscreen. The simple idea that everyone’s life is a pocketwatch just waiting to be stopped and filed away for posterity is an intriguing thought. Alice Through The Looking Glass is a typical sequel – lacking the magic of the original and boring at times, as it tries to recapture past glories. Disney might want to have a very long look in their own looking glass if they’re thinking of making another sequel. Disappointing. **

  • emerb

    2010, Tim Burton’s live-action take of “Alice In Wonderland” promised viewers an immersive journey to a magical world. Despite being mauled by critics for being all spectacle and little substance, audiences were not deterred and it brought in a staggering €1 billion worldwide, perhaps aided by the fact that cutting edge 3D was a relatively new phenomenon at the time. “Alice Through The Looking Glass” is the much delayed sequel and this time Burton is producer with the talented James Bobbin (best known for the Muppets films) in charge of direction. This film loses none of the visual dazzle with a similar style, use of CGI, costume and make-up to the first and indeed, this is no bad thing.

    The story opens with Alice returning to London after three years on the sea. She learns that her former would-be fiancé, the spiteful upper-class Hamish (an excellent Leo Bill) has taken her dead father’s ship out from under her, is arranging the sale of her mother’s home, and is trying to push Alice into a lowly clerk position at his company. In the midst of her anguish, she is visited by her old friend Absolem who tells her she is urgently needed to save the Mad Hatter,
    who has fallen ill because he is haunted by the mysterious disappearance of his family. Faced with this new mission to save her dying friend, she must to return to Underland again, this time via a giant mirror. Once there, she is advised by the White Queen (Anne Hathaway) that she must go back to the past and attempt to rewrite history in order to recover the lost family. To do this, she needs the Chronsphere (an electricity-conducting brass ball) which is held by “Time” (Baren Cohen). Alice steals this device and journeys back to solve the riddle of what happened to the Mad Hatter’s family and find out how she can save her friend.

    Depp brings his reliably quirky style and eccentricity to the Mad Hatter and is convincingly vulnerable and forlorn this time around. Mia Wasikowska gives a feisty and spirited performance as Alice. A large part of the drama takes place between the two warring queens played again by Anne Hathaway and Helena Bonham Carter, who has a new ally this time around: Time himself, played by Sacha Baron Cohen. All three pull off their roles with the required enthusiasm and fun. We also have a return of all our most loved characters, the former caterpillar Absolem, now a blue butterfly voiced by the late Alan Rickman (to whom the film is dedicated), Matt Lucas as the rhyming Tweedles, Stephen Fry
    as Cheshire Cat, Michael Sheen as White Rabbit and Timothy Spall as Bayard
    the bloodhound. All deliver fine voice work, as is to be expected from this stellar line-up.

    “Alice Through The Looking Glass” is a real feast for the eyes, the imagery is colourful, flamboyant and striking. It certainly offers the chance for kids to be mesmerized, losing themselves in the extraordinary world of Lewis’ imagination. There’s no question that this star-studded spectacle will attract fans worldwide and the box office tills at Disney will be ringing for months. I saw the movie in 3D,
    a feature I felt was used to good effect here. Added to that, the production design, sets, costumes and special effects were detailed, colourful, flawless
    and magical. I loved this fantasy movie, it is a visual extravagance, always diverting, never dull and it allows you to forget the fact that you’re actually an adult for a few hours!