Film review: Alice Through the Looking Glass

‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ is a wonderfully zany tribute to Lewis Carroll’s magnificent characters and stories.

May 26, 2016, updated May 26, 2016

The sequel to Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland begins with an older, more accomplished Alice Kingsleigh (Mia Wasikowska) sailing the high seas on her father’s ship, The Wonder.

Upon returning to London, she is faced with a difficult decision that will see her grounded and forced to take on the duties of a “real lady”. In a hurrah for equality, Alice runs away from the imposing Hamish Ascott, who she famously rejected in the previous film, and takes a leap through a looking glass revealed to her by Absolem the butterfly (voiced by the late Alan Rickman).

Things are all but well in Wonderland upon Alice’s arrival, with the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) stymied by thoughts of his lost family – which, of course, can only be saved by our heroine.

Directed by James Bobin (The Muppets), Alice Through the Looking Glass certainly holds a candle to its predecessor, which was helmed by legendary director Burton. It is incredibly vivid with wonderful music and costumes that complement Lewis Carroll’s incredible array of characters. A tip of the hat must go to costume designer Colleen Atwood (Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha) and composing royalty Danny Elfman.

The film doesn’t, however, have that indescribable Tim Burton touch. Nor is the screenplay by Linda Woolverton (Maleficent) equal to that of the original movie; time travelling to change the past and save a loved one is an old-hat story and this sequel deserved more.

Anne Hathaway is once again almost comically ethereal and perfect as the White Queen Mirana, while Wasikowska portrays the headstrong yet feminine Alice. She is a wonderful leading lady and, despite Depp being the first name on the bill, Wasikowska is the real hero. Speaking of the devil, Depp’s Hatter is sadly somewhat sidelined alongside his fellow tea-party guests the White Rabbit, the March Hare, the Tweedles, the Cheshire Cat, the Dormouse and Bayard the Bloodhound.

My biggest plaudits are reserved for Helena Bonham Carter’s dastardly wicked and yet strangely human Red Queen Iracebeth and the intricate anti-villain Time, played by Sacha Baron Cohen. Time is both loveable and foreboding, from his grand costume to his vaguely foreign accent; I could watch a movie based purely on his character.

Although a little heavy on the CGI, Alice Through the Looking Glass is an enchanting film with more than enough for parents, children and fans of the original story to fall in love with.

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