Posted May 30 2016
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Alice Through The Looking Glass - This Movie Rocks More Than The First One

Dir: James Bobin

Starring Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, Matt Lucas, Rhys Ifans, Stephen Fry, Alan Rickman

Tim Burton’s Alice rode the wave of the post-Avatar new-found excitement for 3D all the way to an unexpected $1 billion. For this inevitable sequel Burton has taken a back seat as producer, which is no bad thing, given that Alice wasn’t exactly one of his finer films.

This one – which takes its characters and title from Lewis Carroll but little else – is actually slightly better, if still nothing to write home about. In the hands of James Bobin, it starts very well with a slightly older Alice now captaining her father’s ship and facing up to the prejudices against being a young woman in 19th century England when back on dry land.

Pretty soon however she’s walking trough mirrors and finding herself back in Wonderland – albeit one where the Mad Hatter is even madder, and Time itself has become Borat. The time-travelling plot that follows would’ve been called ‘absurdist’ if from the pen of Carroll, but here “convoluted” seems a better and more apposite word.

Yet there is no denying that it is beautifully designed, and Danny Elfman’s score effectively backs up the dense and heady visuals. Depp – who wrongly takes top billing – moves from being annoying to strangely effecting as the even-Madder Hatter, and Bonham Carter is on splendid form as the Red Queen, though sadly the film does feel the need to go down the Maleficent route and explain her back story in a lame attempt to make her sympathetic. Seriously Disney – in your desire to remake every animated pic you ever made, is anyone every going to remain a genuine villain??

Baron Cohen also proves winning (more so as the film progresses) in an odd, Germanic way, but the one reason for seeing this is, quite simply, Wasikowska, who defies the quality of the script to rise above all around her. Her Alice is assured, confident, radiant even, and feisty in a way that invokes both period and contemporary. She is, in short, an Alice for the ages, and by far the film’s strongest element. (Unlike Anne Hathaway who – sad to say – is rather uncharacteristically awful here.)

 

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