Someone at Disney thought Tim Burton producing a second live action Alice In Wonderland picture was a good idea. The first one was bad enough, a poor attempt to capture the magic and nonsensical beauty of Lewis Carroll’s victorian ode to strange. I think my primary complaint about the film(s) is how much Burton as producer draws from American McGee’s “Alice” video games and how flat everything falls with such a rich palette to draw from. Director James Bobin follows in Tim’s astetic footsteps.
In my screening, we had the unfortunate experience of the audio being out for the opening scene of the film, which in this case contained ships at sea during a storm. When you see this, I want you to imagine a theater full of people making wind sounds, yelling out things like “PIRATE SOUNDS”, and “WILHELM SCREAM” during the chase. It was super entertaining, and probably the most enjoyable part of the experience for me. Mia Wasikowska is presented as the captain of her father’s cargo vessel, and through her “Nothing is Impossible” views, she manages to save the crew from the cannon of oncoming enemy ships. I thought maybe it’d be a dream sequence, but it wasn’t.
We get a bit too much of “Alice struggling with the reality of growing up”, adding the scenes with her former friend Haymitch really serve no purpose other than to drop her in a large house where the aforementioned looking glass lives.
But back to the disappointment of art direction. Let’s play a game of “American McGee or Tim Burton”:
Anyhow, you can see where I’m going with this. Burton borrowed so much of the dark and twisted iconography from the game for Alice Through The Looking Glass that I feel completely robbed of that story as a film. We even get Alice in the asylum, but without the true evil undertone of everything.
Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter is about 20% Willy Wonka and 80% Edward Scissorhands. Maybe this appeals to you, but not to me, not in Wonderland. And, actually, toss in a bit of Sweeny too because Hatter fades from his colorful self into a grey and white character who growls just like Mr. Todd. The film is mostly a story about him and his search for his family, something that I felt would have been better suited to perhaps a stand alone film called “The Mad Hatter” or something, not forced into an ALICE story.
Shoehorned into this tale of time travel is the TRUE story of how Helena Bohnam-Carter’s Red Queen suffered the head-swelling accident due to some tart crumbs. No really, I’m not making that part up- The Red Queen gets a giant head because Anne Hathaway’s White Queen lied about tart crumbs. I could probably go the rest of my natural life and not hear Carter’s Red Queen voice, it gives me nightmares.
Sasha Baron Cohen is actually the strongest part of this film, his character of Time is perhaps the best written and brought to life. His costume is pretty fabulous, his accent never goes away, he is completely comitted from his first scene to his last. Something we can always count on ol Borat for, that’s for certain.
The 3D is fine, the world is vibrant, but maybe not necessary to enjoy the visual treats of Wonderland and Underland. The Sea of Time was a good idea, but the take-the-glasses-off-periodically-to-check-the-3D revealed it was mostly about the dark palat rather than the jump off the screen at you scene.
SCORE: 4 OUT OF 10, Since I’m not a fan of Burton’s take on these things.
My 10 year old daughter LOVED the movie however, said it was ‘magical’. She gives it an 8 out of 10.
Alice Through The Looking Glass opens worldwide on May 27th, 2016.