You have to wonder – and it’s a word we use here with great reluctance – what Lewis Carroll would have thought. Alice has an agenda, the Mad Hatter has a family, and the Red Queen has a reason. However, these aren’t even the cruelest blows to a Carroll’s kid’s world with no limits in logic. This would make Time, this enemy of long days of inactivity, a friendly “Tick Tock” neighborhood.
And what a shame it is. Because where it was enough to dream of a nine-year-old child to travel a parallel world, here the requirements of 3D pyrotechnics force filmmakers to introduce time travel, back and forth, beyond the mirror, to the ‘using a “chronosphere”. Like Alice, now in her twenties (yes, a big budget movie still can’t rest on a child), time follows in a contraption of its own.
Put aside your reservations about the movie clinging to Alice in Wonderland, and you can appreciate Bobin’s efforts to imagine time travel differently. However, do it, and you realize that the only reason Through the Looking Glass is different from its many summer special-effects counterparts is its fascinating characters from the book.
There is Depp, of course, who plays the Mad Hatter imagined by Tim Burton in his 2012 blockbuster. This being a shocking mix of bright colors, his expression took forever to surprise, until this time tinged with the memory of his late family. A clue was given in the last film, and in Through the Looking Glass, what triggers the Mad Hatter’s melancholy is the discovery of the first hat he had made and given to his father, also a hatter (Ifans ).
With him in blue funk (literally, and liberally sprinkled with orange-ness), all his tea-times and other friends gathered around him, including the White Queen (Hathaway) and the Cheshire Cat (Fry), are worried. . Hard to say with Hathaway though, who plays White Queen with as much distraction as before.
In the normal world, Alice has been the captain of a ship for three years and has just returned to London after skillfully steering it through a terrible storm. This world again doesn’t sit well with her, and she walks into a mirror. With a quick whistle past a crushed Humpty Dumpty, she landed in the midst of all darkness.
The Mad Hatter tells Alice that he is convinced that her family is alive and that only she can save them. Alice must therefore travel back in time until the day the jabberwocky attacked them. A quick stopover to recover the chronosphere is essential at the Time Castle (Baron Cohen), who lives there with his “seconds (the best joke of the film)”. The Red Queen (Carter, still so delicious) scowls at him there, searching for the same device.
Considering the number of characters and the number of stops along the way, forcing people to meet at different ages in their lives, Bobin manages to keep the different strands unraveled.
So much for “six impossible things before breakfast”.
Directed by James Bobin
With Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Sacha Baron Cohen, Rhys Ifans, Stephen Fry