An interesting introductory sub-plot which may have well been a stronger direction for the movie
The plot is contrived and convoluted
The actors, while competent, seem bored
Great graphics means nothing if there's no substance to bolster it
Remember 2010’s Alice in Wonderland? Starring Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter and Alan Rickman, and directed by Tim Burton, you’d have thought that the fate of a live action adaptation of Alice in Wonderland lay in good, if not the perfect, hands… and yet it was quite easily one of the most unnecessary remakes in film history (not that there are many necessary remakes to begin with…)
However, it could be argued that the movie’s existence can be solely blamed on Disney’s latest fad of turning their animated properties into live action… which has proven to not exactly be a bad thing. After all, Maleficent, while weak due to lacking a narrative independent to its protagonist, was still a pretty decent movie. If anything, 2015’s Cinderella, this year’s The Jungle Book, and the upcoming Beauty and the Beast all owe it to Alice in Wonderland’s commercial success.
None of that thankfulness, however, is to be extended to Alice Through the Looking Glass.
At a 112 minutes, it’s only a good 10 to 15 minutes that can be marked as relatively interesting as they are dedicated to actually picking up the threads from the end of the previous movie, following Alice as the captain of The Wonder, her late father’s ship—a job she is not only proficient at, but pretty damn awesome. This is later challenged by the norms of the expectations of women in the 1800s when Alice is pretty much stripped of her position and offered one as a lowly clerk.
This more-interesting-than-the-main-plot-sub-plot comes to an abrupt pause as Alice soon finds herself being thrown into the insane world of Underland which comes packaged with what could have been a simple and decent story regarding the Mad Hatter’s sudden illness (and an effective analogy for striving for your ambitions over what society expects of you) but is instead convoluted and assaulted beyond comprehension thanks to the insistence of having every character from the previous movie resume their roles here, leading to a journey involving time travel that is so contrived and pointless that the X-Men would have hated it… or been jealous of it, I can’t really tell.
Of course, all of this ends with Alice saving Underland and returning to her own world with lessons that are forcibly applicable to her own life decisions, only to have the completely predictable spin of getting what she had always wanted, anyway.
Ultimately, Alice Through the Looking Glass is not only a bad movie but a pretty terrifying one at that. Representing what could be a new wave of films inspired by and bearing the name of the source literature, these films may actually be of little to no resemblance to the books.
While Burton explained his desire for changing the narrative of Alice in Wonderland due to a lack of connection he felt with the original books (understandable, given the structure of the source material), he still chose to maintain a recognisable tone and tale. Alice Through the Looking Glass, however, bears no such recognisability and, if anything, stretches the story to the point where it need not have been a Alice story to begin with.
Now, it’s a question of how long before studios decide to make a fourth Lord of the Rings entitled Return of the Ring, in which Gollum and the One Ring have merged in the fiery depths of Mount Doom and he now rises as the newest Dark Lord of Mordor? Or maybe a Harry Potter TV series, Harry Potter and the Unrelated Spin-Off, focusing on the buddy cop-styled adventures of Neville Longbottom and Lee Jordan?
Okay, so maybe the latter might be worth a watch, but it’ll still be with a healthy dose of offence to the source materials and the fans of it.
Alice Through the Looking Glass, is pretty much that.
Alice Through the Looking Glass sees an islandwide release on the 6th of July… but is worth giving a skip.