I loved Alice in Wonderland when it came out back in 2010. It was quirky, bizarre, and really caught the spirit of Lewis Carroll’s original book. While it was different than the Disney animated film, I liked it just as much and for different reasons. Alice Through the Looking Glass had many things going for it, but fell short of its predecessors.
After traveling back to Wonderland, Alice (Mia Wasikowska) finds out the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) is no longer himself due to his family being killed by the Jabberwocky. The Hatter’s other friends enlist Alice to try to help their friend. Sounds simple, right? Of course not.
The plot in Alice Through the Looking Glass was very convoluted. It seemed the writers were bending themselves into pretzels trying to make the plot make sense, when the joy of Wonderland is that it very rarely (if ever) makes sense. There was certainly enough source material from which to draw a story, and this one failed to keep things appropriately bizarre and weird.
Taken by itself, this film repeatedly missed the marks of excellence. Everyone (except Time) in the film seemed to be running through the motions but not really giving their best performances. It felt like they were all tired. Time (Sacha Baron Cohen) was the only one who really seemed invested in the film.
The costuming was wonderful. The attention to detail, especially in Wonderland, was wonderful. Everything in Alice Through the Looking Glass was a visual feast, just as in the first film. The set details also amazed me. A great deal of time was spent making things feel like a very bizarre dream. Even the real world seemed slightly more alive than reality.
The subplot with the Red Queen and White Queen felt shoehorned in to give the film a moral. I’m not against films with a message, but when the message doesn’t fit cleanly into the film, perhaps it’s best not to try to force it in. It felt unnatural and trite, a message simply for the message’s sake, rather than a true story moral.
In the end, Alice Through the Looking Glass failed on many levels, and only did well in a couple areas. I had high hopes for the film, as the first one truly captured the wonderful bizarreness of the source material. Sadly, I won’t go out of my way to watch this one again. Sorry, Johnny.
Release Date: May 27, 2016 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (very brief)
Language: 1 (very mild)
Violence: 1 (mostly scary moments, some fighting)