********* 7 out of 10 *********
Director: James Bobin
Actors: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen
Sometimes it does not require too much to enjoy a movie. Go into a theatre with an open mind, willing to overlook a few flaws here and there, generous enough to ignore the pace that might drop somewhere in between the narrative, and then the stronger points of the film will shine even brighter, and you will step out of the theatre feeling the excitement still radiating through your being, the very reason why you stepped into the theatre after all. Alice Through the Looking Glass, the sequel to Tim Burton’s 2010 flick Alice in Wonderland, is such a movie that works hard to make the journey enjoyable for us, and even though it does not have the finish of a masterclass movie, it does more than enough to make the adventure memorable.
Alice Through the Looking Glass triumphs because of the scale at which it has been shot. With a production budget of $170 million, it appears even more lavish than Tim Burton’s flick, as the new director James Bobin cuts no corners in using extravagant special effects to give the movie an out-worldly feel. The production design comes from Dan Hennah, who worked on The Hobbit series before, and along with cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh, they bring to life a colourful bright world into which Alice enters again, where she finds her old friend The Hatter despairing about his lost family and growing sick. The truth about Hatter’s family lies in the past, and so that is where Alice has to travel, much to the chagrin of Time itself.
A riveting story lies in the heart of Alice Through the Looking Glass, as is the case with most of the time-traveling movies, with Linda Woolverton working on the screenplay again, and in my opinion doing a better job than her 2010 effort. It is not only the complications that arise because of traveling back in time, but the manner in which the story about the Hatter’s family starts to incorporate the past of the warring sisters/princesses Iracebeth and Mirana which got me hooked. The movie though takes some time to get going, as director James Bobins struggles to keep the right pace in the first half of the movie. The second half makes up for it, and the drama towards the finale does get the heart beating quite rapidly.
A wonderful set of actors add to the colour of Alice Through the Looking Glass. Mia Wasikowska brings back the mix of her girlish charm with a ferocious stubbornness that makes Alice a striking personality as a lead character. Johnny Depp is once more in his element as the Mad Hatter, eccentric and still a joy to watch. Helena Bonham Carter though for me steals the show as the Red Queen Iracebeth, confidently playing the irascible shrieking queen with her own set of quirks, while also providing new layers to this character as her past is further explored. Anne Hathaway has lesser work in this film but she is graceful as ever in her role of White Queen Mirana. Sacha Baron Cohen is a fantastic addition to this excellent cast, playing Time itself; he is funny and yet serious, at times silly and yet wiser than us, such a mixed personality that Sacha Baron Cohen delivers in an applause-worthy performance. Oh, and you do feel a tinge of sadness on hearing Alan Rickman’s voice for the last time, as his character Absolem returns as a butterfly in this movie.
If you are patient with Alice Through the Looking Glass then it is going to be a joyful movie, an adventure of the scale that only Hollywood can gift us, visually alluring and bright enough to drive away your blues. It’s not the perfect piece, neither was Alice in Wonderland, and one could always argue that author Lewis Carroll’s stories and characters could have been handled with more finesse. But neither are these movies a discredit to Carroll’s creations, and so it ain’t a bad idea to jump into this adventure with Alice again!