Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, Anne Hathaway
Director: James Bobin
After returning from the sea as captain of her father’s ship, Alice (Wasikowska) finds that the shipping company she works for has been taken over by her spurned ex-boyfriend Hamish. The grudge-bearing ex explains to Alice that he holds the deeds to her mother’s house and will only release them should she hand over her father’s ship. As she rushes through Hamish’s house in anger she steps through a mirror back into Wonderland where she finds that the Mad Hatter (Depp) is dreadfully ill. The Hatter explains that he is sure that his family, thought to be killed by the Jabberwock, is still alive, and he is becoming increasingly ill with worry. Alice then goes to see Time (Baron Cohen) to ask if she can borrow the Chronosphere, an item which allows the user to travel through time, to find answers. Time refuses, so Alice steals the Chronosphere and whizzes back across the temporal sea to uncover the mystery of the Hatter’s family.
As with any Tim Burton film, Alice Through the Looking Glass looks absolutely astonishing. The amount of thought and detail that has gone into the style of Time’s palace alone is an outright wonder. The constant problem with most of Burton’s films recently though is that for all of this painterly marvel, the creeping sensation of style over substance is always stalking. Strip away the visual beauty and you’re largely left with a shoddy narrative, unthoughtful script and more than likely Johnny Depp. By handing the directing reins to Bobin, it appears that this realisation has dawned on Burton and Through the Looking Glass feels much fresher and pacier.
Wasikowska looks and acts as you would imagine Alice to which is really all you can ask; she has lost some of the wonder she showed in the first movie but then this is an older Alice so is to be expected. Depp spends a lot of the film asleep, which instantly marks it as one of his better performances, and Baron Cohen’s Time feels worryingly like Officer Crabtree from ‘Allo ‘Allo. His long face, confused glances and dodgy French accent are a little too recognisable, but it’s pleasant to see him enjoying silliness once again after the abhorrent Grimsby. Bonham Carter steals the show as the shouty Queen of Hearts, but she also shows good depth as her character develops once the reason for her insanity slowly becomes apparent.
It’s not often these days that a film feels like it should be a little longer yet Alice rushes the storyline along so much during the last twenty minutes that an extra few moments wouldn’t have gone amiss. Alice hurries from the real world to Wonderland and back through the timeline so often in such a short period that it all gets a little confusing and disenchanting.
Alice Through the Looking Glass is beautiful to look at and truly astounding to watch in 3D on the mega-screen. It uses the 3D elements in such a perfectly subtle immersive way that it is a constant delight, giving a timely reminder of how modern 3D can be used to give wonderful results. But for the final twenty minutes where Bobin could have used his own Chronosphere a little better, Alice Through the Looking Glass a is decent outing with lovely visuals, good performances all round and enough pace to keep the audiences awake. The only real criticism to be levelled at the movie is just that; apart from its stunning visuals, it’s decent, good, acceptable, alright. It’s just not great.
6 / 10