In my 2010 review of Disney’s lavish live-action tale of “Alice in Wonderland” – a film that beautifully reproduces that brand of playful and clever nonsense so unique to Lewis Carroll’s original text – I myself. Am found to use carrollisms such as “frabjous” and “Calloooh! Callay!” to express my pleasure to get lost in the lush production of director Tim Burton.
I was not the only one. Winning over a billion dollars at the global box office, the Burton film prompted Disney to decide fairly quickly to give the green light to a sequel. Now, six years later, we get that sequel in “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” this time directed by James Bobin (“The Muppets”).
And, once again, I find myself looking for carrollisms to describe it. The words I found this time, however, are of a distinctly different flavor to those I used to describe the Burton film.
Now the best I can do is “negative”, “uninspiring” and, in its worst moments, “mimsy” – a mixture of “miserable” and “weak” that was deployed by Carroll in his brilliantly absurd poem “Jabberwocky”. “
For those less inclined to coat racks and other verbal contortions, these words work just as well: boring, tedious, and empty. Wonderless is also suitable.
But then, all of these things can be said about Bobin’s “Through the Looking Glass” as well, so they fit the bill perfectly.
Although it borrows its title from Carroll’s 1871 sequel “Alice in Wonderland”, and although most of the main actors return from Burton’s film (Mia Wasikowska as Alice, Johnny Depp as Mad Hatter, Helena Bonham Carter as Red Queen, the voice of the late Alan Rickman as Absolem the caterpillar / smoking butterfly), there is really little comparison here between the original work or Burton’s.
This is not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself. I admire when a filmmaker tries to create his own distinct thing – especially when that thing exceeds, or at least equals, his inspiration.
In this case, however, Bobin’s “Through the Looking Glass” doesn’t even come close. Alice indeed crosses a mirror to return to Wonderland, as she does in Carroll’s text, but from there all bets are off.
Built around a lanky, hyperactive storyline – which reinvents Alice as a ship’s captain, and involves vamping Sasha Baron Cohen, random visual effects, and a time travel device (that tool of desperate storytellers everywhere) – Bobin’s “Through the Looking Glass” appears as an exhausting mishmash of half-baked ideas and fully-baked non-ideas.
We get a Red Queen / White Queen backstory. We get a Mad Hatter rescue mission. We get some sort of rust monster that will rush to consume things if Alice accidentally “breaks the past”.
Taken on their own, each of these scenarios makes little sense. Taken together, they do even less. All attempts to generate emotions also fall flat.
Of course, nonsense was Carroll’s calling card. But hers was clever and playful nonsense, built around puns, puzzles, and double talk. Bobin’s brand of nonsense, on the other hand, is tense and unbearable, one that – when the story slumps down – is likely to fall into wall-to-wall visual effects scenes that somehow come across. or another to overwhelm the stage and overwhelm the senses. all at once.
All of this makes for a great missed opportunity. Carroll’s words and images could make for a fantastic escape to the big screen. Instead, here we get a misfire on the big screen.
Steam or not, Bobin’s “Alice Through the Looking Glass” will still make box office money this Memorial Day weekend. Analysts are asking him to withdraw something of around $ 60 million nationally from Friday to Monday alone. Overall, we can expect it to generate even more.
And while infants and fools might be caught in the whirlwind action, most viewers should brace themselves for a less than wonderful return to Wonderland.
In fact, the only question I asked after seeing it was this:
First: “I wonder who approved this script? “
And second, “Where’s a good vorpal sword when you need it?” “
ALICE THROUGH THE LROIR
1 star, out of 5
Instantaneous: A live-action and heavy-effects sequel to Disney’s 2010 “Alice in Wonderland” that once again sees Alice traveling to Wonderland, where she must embark on a travel mission to the world. time to save the Mad Hatter and his family.
: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Sacha Baron Cohen, Rhys Ifans, Alan Rickman, Matt Lucas.
: James Bobin.
: PG, for fantastic action / peril and a bit of language.
: 1 hour 53 minutes.