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Alice Through The Looking Glass - Review

Alice Through The Looking Glass

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 2.5 out of 5

IT seems like an age since Tim Burton first delivered Alice in Wonderland, earning over a billion at the global box office and paving the way for Disney to roll out more live action updates from its animated library.

A sequel has been inevitable ever since but while James Bobin’s follow-up retains many Burton-esque qualities, this latest trip to Underland proves something of an anti-climax.

The problems are manifold, starting with a curious lack of emotional investment and extending to missed opportunities with the material, to name but two.

The film starts brightly enough, at sea, with Alice (once again played by Mia Wasikowska) now the captain of her father’s ship and mid-chase with some pirates. It’s slickly executed and visually stunning.

Once back on dry land, however, Alice is faced with losing her vessel in order to save her Mother’s home. Dismayed, she also finds herself lured back to Underland where The Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) has fallen gravely ill. In order to save him, she must find his parents, even though they were thought to have perished at the hands of The Jabberwocky, and so heads back in time in an attempt to uncover the truth about their fate.

In doing so, Alice finds herself battling Time (Sacha Baron Cohen) himself and discovering hidden truths about some of the other inhabitants of Underland.

As high as these stakes sound, however, Bobin’s film struggles to keep viewers as gripped as it should. The middle section lacks momentum, while the characters feel less interesting this time around.

Admittedly, a lot of CS Lewis’ source material from Through The Looking Glass was milked by Burton first time around, meaning there’s ground to make up. But while this could have been fertile in terms of what it could have said about feminism, ends up feeling tokenistic at best. Worse, a lot of the emotion feels forced and spoon-fed.

Bobin, who has previously impressed with The Muppets and Borat, is more interested in spectacle or eccentricity. But while the film looks good visually, the quirks irritate.

Depp’s Mad Hatter lacks sympathy, Wasikowska’s Alice doesn’t really grow as a character, Anne Hathaway’s mannerisms feel over-exaggerated and Helena Bonham Carter’s tantrums are much less fun and menacing second time around.

Cohen’s Time, meanwhile, is the oddest creation of the lot – part man, part clock parts, he’s by turns camp and sinister, yet struggles to convince as either. His accent, meanwhile, is too diverting, emerging as a cross between Austrian filmmaker Werner Herzog and ‘get me to the chopper’ Schwarzenegger.

Bobin does at least ensure the final race against time does excite and his film does briefly awake from its slumber. But the final few moments revert back to cheap sentiment and message making about the importance of family and time. If you take the one about not wasting time at its word, you may well want to skip this entirely.

Certificate: PG
Running time: 1hr 53mins
UK Release Date: May 27, 2016