Alice Through The Looking Glass Review

Alice Through The Looking Glass

I’ve never been much of a fan of Alice in Wonderland.

And if you don’t like that, then I guess you can eat me.

There’s just something about those iconic Lewis Carroll stories that I didn’t really connect with.

And Tim Burton’s big budget adaptation did little to sway me from the contrived ‘madness’ of wonderland, nor the feeling that these adventures belonged to a bygone age.

So I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Alice through the Looking Glass.

Beginning with an epic ocean scene – the kind where you can’t work out what the hell’s going on, but find the visual spectacle incredibly impressive nonetheless – we are soon reunited with Alice on dry land.

Now a fearless captain, Alice has been out to sea for a year longer then was planned.

Assumed dead, thus leaving her mother with no means of income, Alice returns to discover her father’s ship has been used as leverage against her family home.

Alice now has to choose between keeping her beloved father’s ship and making her mother homeless.

Or she could just follow that talking blue butterfly into the looking glass, and set sail on another adventure with the Mad Hatter and friends through time and space.

It’s an easy choice really, I mean who doesn’t have issues with their mother?

Alice through the Looking Glass is a curious and often fantastical film.

Having no appreciation of the books, I understand this film is not strictly an adaptation of Carroll’s second novel as senor Burton had already ravaged most of this in his first film.

Instead we go back in time – courtesy of Father Time himself – and see how these iconic wonderland characters came to be the way they are today.

The story holds up surprisingly well, as we follow Alice’s journey through Underland’s past to discover the secrets of the present, and there’s a lot of wonder in the magical nature of the characters we meet.

Echoes of Labyrinth abound in Alice’s adventures this time around, only with fewer songs and no David Bowie shaped goblin king to scare the hell out of little kids with his over-sized codpiece.

Instead, Sacha Baron Cohen channels his inner Clouseau as the bumbling Father Time, complete with a bunch of clock themed minions, Anne Hathaway subtly plays the affected princess card up to eleven and we get to see the human side of Helena Bonham Carter’s Queen of Hearts.

It doesn’t all work of course, and Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter feels a little one dimensional. The second half of the story falls away too, as we rush towards the typical big budget ending Hollywood demands for ‘event’ films like this.

But Mia Wasikowska is great as Alice, and the special effects are incredible enough to keep you invested in the quirky goings on of Underland’s minions.

Alice through the Looking Glass doesn’t quite manage to shrink me, but it will make you feel like a child again.

Jonathan Campbell

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May 2016
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