Alice Through the Looking Glass (d. James Bobin USA 2016)

Please read On Reviews for a guide to how I write film reviews. Any spoilers are appropriately marked and, though I personally prefer to know little about a film before seeing it, there is a synopsis at the bottom for any who wish to see one.



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Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
(a. Lewis Carroll Macmillan 1865) is a children’s classic novel that deals with the nonsensical and wondrous. Sufficed to say, Tim Burton‘s version Alice in Wonderland  (d. Burton USA 2010) did not really follow the book much. Despite the strong visual style, which is iconic of a Tim Burton film, seeming like a match made in heaven, the film told it’s own story and seemed to ignore the nonsensical aspects of the book. This made for a strange film despite all the excitement around it and so it made money but wasn’t received all that well by critics or audiences. Alice Through the Looking Glass (d. James Bobin USA 2016) is a sequel to this film and actually bears little relation to the actual sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland; Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There (a. Lewis Carroll Macmillan 1871). This sequel appears like most sequels do and unfortunately follows some rather unfortunate tropes with sequels. It follows from Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland and takes up similar problems from the word go. This isn’t a mad and wondrous story of nonsense and flights of fancy. However, with this already being established it should not be any surprise here as it is simply continuing what was already established.

SPOILERS. This may not be a huge spoiler but all the same one of the huge problems with this film is a problem that a lot of sequels have – we don’t need to find out the history and past of some characters. We don’t need to know why things are the way they are. Specifically, there’s no need to find out why the Mad Hatter is Mad or how he became a hatter. Nor do we need to know why Tea time is always Tea time. Nor do we need to find out the background for the Red Queen and White Queen. This brings me to the books and their power – their sheer imagination. There is so much there that they could have done and to continue the themes would be more important than continuing the characters or looking at their back story. It’s a classic bad sequel formula and it’s prominent here. END OF SPOILERS. So visually the film continues with some of the strengths of the visuals of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland but is quite underwhelming in parts as well. But the idea behind the entire story is rather dry and some of the ideas to compliment the world is rather half baked. Making for a rather predictable film.

A lot of the actors reprise their roles and some are forced into the story to show that they’re still there – another problem a lot of films and sequels have. New characters have interesting looks and sometimes some of the characters are handled well and performed ably. We get into the emotions of some of the key characters on the odd occasion but generally speaking they are going through some very typical, predictable and unfortunate ideas that their impact is a miss at best. It’s a shame that a lot of talent involved with this film isn’t really complimented or given a chance to shine. The Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), being a much loved character and can be effective in performance and concept at times, is embellished in a way that seems a desperate try for the audience. It’s also a shame that despite this devoted time to the character, it never really is a shining moment for him. I also find it a bit strange that the character was actually a minor character in the original book. With this in mind I feel as if the character was always meant to shine for a short amount of time but rather brightly but because of this they’ve stretched him out to shine rarely, if at all, but he is there a lot, just for the audience.

What we are left with is a rather half hearted story. A rather basic pretty picture. For a book series that gives so much it is weird that the films have taken so much away and have fallen back on tired clichés and gimmicks that are only really acceptable in B-movie schlock or bad sequels. It feels like they’re trying to grab a quick buck and not actually devoting anything to the film. Tired throughout with an odd moment of a pretty visual but with a bland story that almost kills the effect of the characters involved. A rather unfortunate film that has a name sake from a marvellous book and unfortunately may confuse audiences away from the actual good in the source material. I urge anyone to read the books and forget the films. I say this with such disappointment.

Alice finds the Mad Hatter ill and must travel back in time to save him.

Further Reading

Official Site

Interview with Tim Burton

Interview with Johnny Depp

Interview with Mia Wasikowski

Walt Disney’s Intro to Alice in Wonderland 1951

Behind the Scenes Alice in Wonderland 1951

Alice in Wonderland 1999

Through the Looking Glass 1998

Alice 1988

What’s the Difference?

Nostalgia Critic: Alice in Wonderland 2010

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and

I’m not all there myself

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