Alice Through the Looking Glass

Directed by: James Bobin

Starring: Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Mia Wasikowska, Rhys Ifans, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, Alan Rickman, Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen, and Timothy Spall

When a film grosses over a billion dollars worldwide, it will undoubtedly spawn a sequel.  In 2010, Disney released Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.  Despite being universally panned, the film became a blockbuster smash.  Six years later, Disney has released Alice Through the Looking Glass with much less box office success.

Alice Kinsleigh (Mia Wasikowska) has been traveling the high seas for several years as the captain of her deceased father’s ship.  She is having one adventure after the next.  When Alice returns to London from China, however, she is dismayed to find that her mother is in dire financial straits.  Helen Kinsleigh (Lindsay Duncan) has mortgaged the family house to Hamish, Alice’s bitter ex-fiance.  Hamish proposes that Alice sell him her father’s ship and become a clerk, or Alice and her mother will lose the family home.  Everyone believes that Alice should give up her life as a ship captain, be more responsible and assume more feminine duties.

Distraught, Alice steps outside for some fresh air.  It is at this low point, Absolem (Alan Rickman) finds her.  Absolem tells Alice that she is needed in Wonderland and flies off.  Alice chases the butterfly into a room and he disappears into a mirror.  Alice follows him through the looking glass and is transported back to Wonderland.  Once she is there, she is reunited with old friends, including the White Queen (Anne Hathaway).  Her friends tell her that the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) has gone “mad.”  

Years ago, the Hatter’s family was murdered.  The Hatter recently began to believe that his family was still alive.  He has made himself sick with his obsession.  In order to save the Hatter, Alice must travel back in time and save his family.  All the while she is battling Time (Sacha Baron Cohen) and her mortal enemy Iracebeth (Helena Bonham Carter).

Admittedly, I never saw Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.  I heard so many negative critiques that I decided not to waste my time.  Much to my surprise, I enjoyed Through the Looking Glass.  I know it sits at 30% on Rotten Tomatoes.  However, critics were predisposed to loathe Through the Looking Glass because Alice in Wonderland was a disaster.  Many felt Through the Looking Glass was the sequel that no one wanted.  I was even dreading this review.  

However, Through the Looking Glass is visually interesting.  James Bobin pulls viewers into Wonderland with eye-popping colors, fanciful creatures and a constantly changing landscape.  Moreover, Wasikowska as Alice is a brave heroine who never backs down from a new adventure.  Although 2015’s Cinderella received critical acclaim, I would rather have my 6 year old daughter watch Alice any day.  Alice is not sitting in an attic waiting for a prince to save her.  She is the captain of her own ship, boldly doing the impossible and saving friends and loved ones.  Alice is a contemporary female lead who may inspire young viewers to be more than just a pretty face.  Sacha Baron Cohen as Time and Helena Bonham Carter as the villain both deliver memorable performances as well.

Through the Looking Glass
is not without its flaws.  Anne Hathaway delivers the most dull, uninspired performance of her career.  The best word to describe Hathaway’s performance is lifeless.  Every scene involving her is surprisingly painful to watch.  To compound matters, Johnny Depp is a disaster.  In the midst of his incredibly public personal drama, Depp plays a weird, unlikable man-child in Through the Looking Glass.  Depp has a penchant for “off-the-wall” characters, most notably Captain Jack Sparrow.  But the Mad Hatter is weak, annoying, and horrifying to look at.  The Hatter’s make-up is distracting and during Depp’s scenes, it is hard to focus on anything beyond his dreadful appearance and odd lisp. Through the Looking Glass will not help revive Depp’s floundering career.

Alice Through the Looking Glass
earns a 0.06% rating.  I don’t think you should run to the theaters to see it, but if you do watch it, you may be pleasantly surprised.