“Alice Through The Looking Glass” Proof Sometimes You Need To Say NO!!!!

By Scott Kurland
Film: Alice Through The Looking Glass
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, Anne Hathaway, Rhys Ifans, and Alan Rickman.
Rated PG
Director: James Bobin

I hate it when a film’s sequel is either rushed or delayed. It's even worse when a well known  director is replaced by a less established amateur .When either of those instances occur, it means one of two things: One, the studio rushed a sequel with a bad script they knew wasn't ready to be made. Two, the script was so bad that the original “good” director had to walk away and was replaced by someone far less qualified. I’m not huge of the TV show “Entourage," but I remember one episode that addressed this very issue. In the series, Vince is forced to leave “Aquaman 2” because the director was replaced with Michael Bay. A new script is made, but it's terrible because it was written too fast. I feel like that is the case with this week’s film “Alice Through The Looking Glass”. Tim Burton directed the original film and it wasn’t anything he hadn’t done before. However, he backed out of the sequel and was replaced with “Muppet’s Most Wanted” director James Bobin. Is this film truly awful? Let’s find out shall we?

Taking place three years after “Alice In Wonderland,” Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is summoned back to Wonderland when the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) takes ill and his mind starts to go. The Hatter is convinced that his family managed to survive the first Jabberwocky attack, though all evidence points to the contrary. His friends have a hard time believing him, and it is this very thing that causes his life-force to wither. Despite her own doubts, Alice decides to help. She is informed by the White Queen (Anne Hathaway) that only Time (Sacha Baron Cohen) has the ability to help the Hatter as he possesses the chronosphere; a device that allows its user to control time which Alice desperately needs to discover the truth about what happened to Hatter's family. If Alice isn’t careful, she may unravel time all together. Can she save the Hatter? Or is another nefarious force working against her?

I hate giving Disney films bad reviews. It's not because I’m afraid of upsetting the house of mouse and waking up to mouse ears with a death threat attached to them. Well... I am, but that’s not my point. My point is that I was raised on Disney. Growing up I must have seen every Disney movie there was, including “Blank Check,” “The Mighty Ducks”, and the virtually unknown “Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken”. After seeing “Alice Through The Looking Glass” I became upset because this is a poorly made film.  Even though I wasn’t too keen on the first “Alice In Wonderland,” I knew it was a decent film. Not to mention Tim Burton’s dark vision was completely realized on screen. This film felt like a candy-coated version of the world Burton had created. The plot is too chipper, the ending is too happy and, oh yeah, the bad guy is not the bad guy. All the trailers lead you to believe that the villain in this movie is Sacha Baron Cohen as Time. It’s not. The bad guy is, of course, Helena Bonham Carter. Cohen is actually the good guy and Alice is just there making a mess of time itself.

Director James Bobin wasn’t the right choice to direct this film. You can’t have the man who made “The Muppets” take over the world of Burton. Their styles are vastly different, so the plot and films meaning are lost in translation. Also, this film is not, in any way, “Through The Looking Glass." That may be the title and Alice does in fact go through the looking glass, but that's about where the connection ends. The first “Alice In Wonderland” technically was the story of Alice going “Through The Looking Glass” if you think about it. Alice was gone for a long time and returns to a different Wonderland. Bobin had nothing to go on, and this film feels more like the studio’s attempt to make another franchise. 

The performances are fine here. Depp is his usual quirky outgoing self and he makes the most of his screen time. You can tell he loves playing the Mad Hatter as it's very evident on screen. Wasikowska is a good Alice. She has the whimsy needed for Alice down pat. As I said before, the performances are fine, but the dialog from Linda Woolverton is too on-the-nose and leads the audience by the hand. If you’re always telling everyone what’s going on, they’ll never figure it out on their own. In this instance, “less is more” would have benefited the film greatly. 

This isn’t a bad film in the conventional sense. There’s bad elements, but there’s things to like about the film. The set design is gorgeous and visually it’s stunning, even though the CGI is terrible. The costumes are kind of intriguing. All of Alice’s suits look like they were inspired  by Paula Poundstone from her 1990s era of stand up. The Mad Hatter’s costumes on the other hand, screams the Steve Harvey collection with all the buttons and puffy ties he wears. That aside, I loved the design of the secondary characters and Cohen’s Time costume. In the end though, that’s just small potatoes. The big picture here is that the film is not very good.

The bottom line is “Alice Through The Looking Glass” is not a very good film. The story is weak and lacks any real substance. The big reveal of why the Queen of Hearts is the way she is made me roll my eyes in disgust. This is just a bad movie. You’re better off saving your money and waiting for it to come out on STARZ. “Alice Through The Looking Glass” is a visual mess with a great cast and bad CGI. Stay at home. You can thank me later.

scott kurlandComment