Alice Through the Looking GlassCultureCinemaMovie reviews
It is a bold move to take on a film adaptation of a tale so well known and loved as Alice Through the Looking Glass. That is not to say it is unachievable. The creation of a world so surreal it exists only in imaginations has been attempted before with varying success: in the Harry Potter saga, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, in Disney’s The Jungle Book and now in the second instalment of Alice’s Adventures.
Alice (Mia Wasikowska) returns to the magical world of her childhood to help locate the family of her friend the Hatter (Johnny Depp) before their absence becomes his demise. To do so she must battle against Time (Sacha Baron Cohen), as she uses his sonisphere to bounce between the influential and endlessly magical stages of the lives of the Wonderland’s inhabitants. With a more uplifting atmosphere, Alice Through the Looking Glass is a wacky yet touching follow-up to the dark undercurrent that accompanied Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (2010).
Director James Bobin’s homage to Carroll’s incredible world is impressive: he maintains the Burtonesque creativity of Wonderland whilst inflating the detail in his sets. However, the attention given to maintaining the intense surrealism of Carroll’s work diverts from developing the characters’ relationships and the plot.
For it is a strong cast all comfortably doing what they do best: Mia Wasikowsa is credible as the strong-willed, accomplished heroine, Leo Bill is an enjoyable but under-used jilted lover, Depp plays an uncomfortably bonkers Mad Hatter, Helena Bonham Carter rasps and screeches in her darkly comic portrayal of the Queen of Hearts, Anne Hathaway dreamily enacts the White Queen and Andrew Scott is a brief but brilliant psychotic psychiatric doctor. They all perform to expectation, but as a whole the film leaves an unfulfilled possibility for greatness. An exception to this is the incredible performance from Sacha Baron Cohen. His interpretation of time, equipped with German accent, elevates and invigorates the script.
Alongside the adventure runs the grander Disney theme of the importance of how we choose to spend time with those we care about, which cements the feel-good essence of the film. Alice Through the Looking Glass is a story that has been popular for over 100 years and whilst Bobin’s adaptation won’t be replacing the book on the shelf, it does provides a beautifully detailed, family-friendly watch.
Alice Through the Looking Glass is released nationwide on 27th May 2016.
Watch the trailer for Alice Through the Looking Glass here: