Alice Through the Looking Glass review: a sad reflection on all concerned
The starry cast - including Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska and the late Alan Rickman - is not enough to save this dire $170 million SFX dog-and-pony show
Completely wasted: Mia Wasikowska in Alice Through the Looking Glass
Film Title: Alice Through the Looking Glass
Director: James Bobin
Starring: Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Mia Wasikowska, Rhys Ifans, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, Alan Rickman, Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen, Timothy Spall
Running Time: 112 min
Alice Through the Looking Glass is, allegedly, an adaptation of Lewis Caroll’s 1871 novel of the same name. But in common with its predecessor, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, the source material has not been adapted so much as plundered and looted for a themed collection of costumes, make-up and set design.
Thus, we get the mirror crossing, living chess pieces and the Jabberwocky plus encore turns from the first film’s high-end action figures. And so much less.
Burton has not resumed directorial duties: that task has, instead, fallen to James Bobin. If any additional proof were needed to demonstrate that filmmakers are not allowed to make films when those films are $170 million SFX dog-and-pony- shows, it is the ‘presence’ of Mr Bobin, who brought such fun to the recent Muppets reboot.
There is, alas, no fun to be had with this soulless, corporate sequel. A ramshackle collection of occularly-challenging CG set-pieces, Alice Through the Looking Glass begins on the digitised high seas with the proto (or possibly faux) feminist Alice (Wasikowska, completely wasted) in swashbuckling mode.
The set-piece ends and she returns home to England where her mother (Lindsay Duncan) now languishes in genteel poverty and where Alice’s former spurned fiance has bought her ship. Or is about to buy her ship. Or something.
Lured by the voice of the late Alan Rickman, our heroine tumbles through a mirror, hijacks a time machine and sets out to heal the Oedipal woes of Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), who is dying but not quickly enough, and the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter).
Jeremy Kyle-friendly trials and revelations follow as the Red and White Queens reenact a plot that looks awfully like the one in Wicked. Meanwhile, Alice is pursued by Time (Sasha Baron Cohen) through her world of mind-numbing pixels until time, accordingly, loses all meaning in the viewers’ world.
To be fair, the first film was no masterpiece, but its billion- dollar haul at the box office suggests that it had something to recommend it. Six years on and the world has tired of Johnny Depp in weirdo make-up while the 3D family-rated feature is no longer a novelty.
Some things, however, never go out of fashion: like sympathetic characters and coherent storytelling. Alice Through the Looking Glass has neither.