Alice Through The Looking Glass Review

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Walt Disney Studios has been on a streak lately with their live-action adaptations. However, many forget that the film that started Disney’s live-action craze was 2010’s Alice in Wonderland. Wonderland amassed an incredible 1 billion dollars worldwide; it’s not surprising that a sequel was announced. With Burton stepping aside, James Bobin comes in with a fresh eye and a flood of new ideas. But does Bobin’s fresh eye improve on the Burton’s original?

Yes, it most certainly does, as Bobin’s Alice Through the Looking Glass is a vast improvement over its predecessor. The extravagant worlds and whimsical performances are still there, but Through the Looking Glass is a much more focused film with more emotional weight to it. Altogether it becomes a rather lively film that blends the somber and fun moments in equal measure.

Alice Through the Looking Glass follows Alice (Mia Wasikowska) who finds herself back in Underland to find that the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) has gone terribly ill over the death of his family. Hoping to save the Hatter and his loved ones, Alice must steal the Chronosphere from Time (Sacha Baron Cohen) and travel into the past. While there, she witnesses the origins of many of Underland’s famous residents.

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One of the biggest problems in Burton’s Alice in Wonderland is that every single character is fighting for screentime. Ultimately, it became an uneven film that’s full of pacing issues. This time around, screenwriter Linda Woolverton and director James Bobin promptly paces the enjoyable dual storylines that’re revolved around four central characters. Unfortunately, the two storylines aren’t connected together in a comprehensible way since the White and Red Queen’s storylines somehow became shoehorned into the Hatter storyline.

Alice, Hatter, the White Queen (Anne Hathaway) and Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) have a considerable amount of character development this time around too. Their individual stories have so much emotional depth to them as you begin to find out just how these classic characters came to be. Unlike the original, these characters don’t have one-note personalities anymore but you get multi-layered characters instead.

Bobin also does a great job navigating through a sea of wackiness and fantasticality while balancing the screen time of all central characters. Whereas the first film was an amalgamation of a great many things, Through the Looking Glass is a more focused, disciplined affair.

The bad news is that Through the Looking Glass is steeped in mediocre CGI. While some scenes are top-notch, certain scenes don’t quite match up to the live actors on screen. The CGI is not just bad; it’s Peter Jackson King Kong bad but, fortunately, the CGI doesn’t completely take over the film in the way that Burton’s did.

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Although Johnny Depp understandably gets top billing, it’s really Mia Wasikowska’s movie. With so many colorful characters and big-name actors as there are in the film, it’s impressive how central Alice still remained. Alice propels the adventure forward and everyone in Underland needs her. She also matured greatly since last we saw her, so she acquits herself nicely when things get too bizarre and time travel gets paradoxical.

As much as Alice is the central character in the film, Sacha Baron Cohen is the standout in the film. Love him or hate him, Cohen’s Time is a brilliant creation. He’s not only the most entertaining character in the film, but his wisdom about the past and the future gives the film its heart. Despite his outlandish looking costume, Time isn’t a cartoon villain either; he’s a man fulfilling a vital role similar to Cohen’s Station Inspector in the hugely underrated Hugo.

To keep things balanced between everyone, the rest of the main actors play a much lesser role than the original. Depp keeps Hatter’s more eccentric elements in check this time around, but he’s deep down still the same Hatter you loved in the first one. Anne Hathaway barely-there performance and Helena Bonham Carter’s holdover shrieking are the only downgrades to this good cast. Sadly, the rest of the cast is barely in the film.

Overall, Alice Through the Looking Glass is a much better film in than the original. However, if you didn’t like the first film then you might not like this one either. What makes the film work – and why I enjoyed it – is finding out the origins of these beloved characters and the emotional ride they go through because of it. If you’re willing to go through the journey then you’re in for a real treat.

Rating: 4/5 atoms
NR 4 Atoms - B

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1488 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.