- on Friday, 27 May 2016 15:12
- by Frank Wilkins
“Time is a thief” utters Alice Through the Looking Glass’s star Mia Wasikowska. In some kind of weird self-aware pronouncement, she reminds us that somehow it’s been six years since Burton’s motley crew of Lewis Carroll-inspired characters convened for their epic tea party in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. Time has stolen not only our fond memories of the 2010 original’s charm and wonder, but it has also robbed us of the wide-eyed wonder and sparkling youth of Mia Wasikowska who, at 26, is way too old to play the teenaged Alice. She can certainly play younger than her age, but it’s simply asking too much of her to show that same injured naivete that made her so effective in the role the first time out.
But Alice Through the Looking Glass has far more problems than the age of its lead actress. At the top of that list is a worn out time travel story that has nothing to do with Carroll’s literary version and even less to do with all the wonderful things that made the original so enjoyable. Adding to the confusion is a swirling mess of soul-sucking CGI that makes the whole experience feel more like a Transformers movie than a worthy follow-up to its triple Oscar-nominated original. Overproduced is the adjective that most readily comes to mind. Somewhere in the incoherent story that hops, skips, and jumps through time is an inspiring tale of female empowerment that sadly gets lost in a whiz-bang 3D video game.
Guided by a butterfly (Alan Rickman in the last role before his death), Alice falls down another rabbit hole – or, in this case, steps through a looking glass that returns her back to Underland where she finds the entire gang, including Dormouse, Cheshire, the March Hare, and Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee convened once again for an epic tea party. But the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) is missing. Or, as White Rabbit puts it, “The Hatter’s the matter.” Alice soon learns what has Hatter so down in the dumps. He found a scrap of cloth that he thought was lost along with his family during a violent Jabberwocky attack. Hatter, now despondent and near death, believes his family is still alive and hopes Alice can uncover their whereabouts.
The plot then shifts gears and takes a turn for the ridiculous when Alice steals a time travel doohickey from Time personified (Sacha Baron Cohen), and travels back into the past to look for Hatter’s missing family. Once in the time travel device called a chronosphere (it somewhat resembles a steampunked version of Willy Wonka’s Wonka-vater), the CGI visuals crank up to vomit-inducing levels as Alice soars through huge ocean waves while the sky swirls in nauseating spirals, and ear-piercing lightning cracks above. Weathered visages of long-lost loved ones and hated enemies appear in the waves. Alice eventually finds the wave containing Hatter’s family, points the chromosphere at it, and plows full-steam ahead. I told you things were getting ridiculous.
The matter at hand becomes even more convoluted as the plot turns into a sort of origin story when Alice learns what made the Mad Hatter mad and the evil Queen of Hearts’s (Helena Bonham Carter) head so big. Screenwriter Linda Wolverton and director James Bobin clearly want their story to be about the characters and to give them human warmth and emotion. But it’s difficult to invest effort in getting to know characters who spend way too much time staring into a green screen abyss, looking for something to focus on. Alice Through the Looking Glass is an inverse example of the value of practical special effects. No amount of computer graphics can replace the touchy-feely tactile world of actors acting on a set with other real-life actors and costumed characters – something Alice so sorely misses.
Alice Through the Looking Glass is packed full of the latest and greatest special effects, and costume and make-up teams that Hollywood has to offer. Artist types, CGI experts, and other industry aficionados will be wowed by the spectacle on display here. But for we mere film lovers, Alice is missing one key ingredient – an ingredient that would not have tacked a single additional dollar onto the film’s $170+ million budget – that endeared the original to hordes of filmgoers: fun. And with such rich, wacky, and whimsical source material, there should be plenty of fun to be had.
MPAA Rating: PG for fantasy action/peril and some language
Runtime: 113 mins
Director: James Bobin
Writer: Linda Woolverton
Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter
Genre: Adventure | Fantasy
Tagline: This spring, it's time for a little madness.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Oh, Alice, you always were an irksome, slurvish, interrupting thing! Hahahahaha!"
Distributor: Walt Disney Motion Pictures
Official Site: http://movies.disney.com/alice-through-the-looking-glass
Release Date: May 27, 2016
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: No details available.
Synopsis: In Disney’s Alice Through the Looking Glass, an all-new spectacular adventure featuring the unforgettable characters from Lewis Carroll’s beloved stories, Alice returns to the whimsical world of Underland and travels back in time to save the Mad Hatter. Directed by James Bobin, who brings his own unique vision to the spectacular world Tim Burton created on screen in 2010 with Alice in Wonderland, the film is written by Linda Woolverton based on characters created by Lewis Carroll and produced by Joe Roth, Suzanne Todd and Jennifer Todd and Tim Burton with John G. Scotti serving as executive producer. Alice Through the Looking Glass reunites the all-star cast from the worldwide blockbuster phenomenon, including: Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Mia Wasikowska and Helena Bonham Carter along with the voices of Alan Rickman, Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen and Timothy Spall. We are also introduced to several new characters: Zanik Hightopp (Rhys Ifans), the Mad Hatter’s father and Time himself (Sacha Baron Cohen), a peculiar creature who is part human, part clock
Home Video Distributor: Disney/Buena Vista
Available on Blu-ray - October 18, 2016
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0; Music: Dolby Digital 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD-50, 1 DVD); iTunes digital copy; Google Play digital copy; DVD copy
Region Encoding: Region A
Walt Disney presents the hyper-realized sequel to Alice in Wonderland with a blu-ray/DVD combo pack that aims to please. Full of bright layers and colorful characters, the 1080p transfer is detailed and rich in bold visuals. Black levels are strong throughout and shadows are detailed with lines and differing layers of dark levels. It is a rich transfer. While it might not stand the test of time due to the heavy special effects, the tale’s demanding colors satisfies the HD treatment. The sound is delivered in a strong English 7.1 DTS-HD track.
Director James Bobin delivers scene-by-scene insight into the creation of “Alice Through the Looking Glass” with his commentary.
Fascinating, in-depth bonus features invite in-home audiences to further explore the whimsical world of Underland. Three-time Oscar®-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood reveals the creative process behind the film’s ornate costuming; P!nk provides on-set access during production of her “Just Like Fire” music video; Sacha Baron Cohen showcases his quirky new character, Time; and Director James Bobin offers insightful audio commentary and introduces five, never-before-seen deleted scenes.
- A Stitch in Time: Costuming Wonderland – Three-time Oscar®-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood (“Alice in Wonderland,” “Memoirs of a Geisha”) explains how costuming helps shape the curious characters of Underland and reveals hidden Easter Eggs within the cast’s ornate outfits.
- Music Video: “Just Like Fire” by P!nk – “Watch this madness, colorful charade” in P!nk’s music video for “Just Like Fire,” the hit song featured in “Alice Through the Looking Glass” that powered to the top 10 on Billboard’s Hot 100.
- Behind the Music Video – Go on set with P!nk for production of her “Just Like Fire” music video, featuring fantastical imagery, aerial stunts, Underland character cameos, and guest appearances by P!nk’s family.
- Behind The Looking Glass – Jump back and forth through time during this in-depth look into the making of “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” hosted by director James Bobin.
- Time On… – Delight in this discussion with the unpredictable and witty Sacha Baron Cohen who plays Time, the keeper of the Chronosphere, a metallic sphere that powers all time.
- Alice Goes Through the Looking Glass: A Scene Peeler – View a side-by-side comparison of raw production footage and final scenes, as Alice enters Underland through a magical looking glass.
- Alice Goes Through Time’s Castle: A Scene Peeler – View raw production footage alongside final scenes, as Alice enters Time’s castle of eternity.
- Characters of Underland – Get to know the quirky and colorful supporting characters in Underland, such as the tubby twins known as the Tweedles (Matt Lucas) and Absolem (Alan Rickman), the blue caterpillar turned blue Monarch butterfly.
- Deleted Scenes with Director Commentary – Bobin introduces five never-before-seen scenes that didn’t make the final cut of Disney’s spectacular adventure.
- A Stitch in Time: Costuming Wonderland