MOVIE: ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS
STARRING: MIA WASIKOWSKA; JOHNNY DEPP; HELENA BONHAM CARTER; ANNE HATHAWAY; SACHA BARON COHEN
DIRECTED BY: JAMES BOBIN
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 1 STAR (Out of 4)
On our ride over to the screening of Alice Through the Looking Glass, my wife and I pondered to find a movie where the first installment was critically panned, but the second installment was applauded. I struggled to find anything. Nothing came to mind. Completely blank. It is a sign of the times though, that I could think of multiple recent films where the first installments were not good (Divergent films, Transformers films, The Chipmunks) and because they made a bazillion dollars, Hollywood made another one. Clearly we are not learning anything. Helmed by Muppets Most Wanted director James Bobin, he uses an assault of wall to wall CGI, cares little about the characters running across green screens, and left me with an extreme headache.
The follow-up to Tim Burton’s 2010 Alice in Wonderland, has a bit of the look of something that Burton might have made, in the sense that the same cast and crew are back to reprise the roles that made them all big paychecks. This time, Alice (Mia Wasikowska) arrives back home from captaining her fathers ship, in an uneventful opening credit sequence, before whisking herself “through the looking glass” and back in time to help the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) get his parents back from their Jabberwocky demise. This sends our heroine on a video game-like journey across computer generated globs which represent the “sea of time”, while the stakes are never high enough for us to fear for Alice’s life.
Helena Bonham Carter has the most fun on screen, and earns the most laughs, in her role as the shriek shouting, balloon headed Red Queen. Anne Hathaway orates her dialogue with pompous breath as the White Queen, flailing her hands about, and leading the group of White Rabbit, Tweedledee & Tweedledum, and the Cheshire Cat, all of course in animated glory. The new bad-guy to the group is Time, played by Sacha Baron Cohen, his performance seemingly a combination of Werner Herzog and Chekov from Star Trek. He is a mixture of death and universal watcher, as the one who controls all time. Alice climbs giant clocks with American Gladiator like ease in order to retrieve an item known as the Chronosphere, which allows her to go back in time. She uses the device speed through each moment in the past. Her character can’t stand still.
I removed my 3D glasses, I counted, 6 times. As someone who wears contact lenses, a movie like this would typically bug my eyes a little, but this is an attack on the eyeballs. It’s hard to watch a film such as Alice Through the Looking Glass and not discuss the special effects regression films seem to be making. What started with a unique experience from Avatar has become the laziest, crappiest form of filmmaking. In 2016 we’ve had Gods of Egypt, The Huntsman: Winter’s War, and now this. All examples of CGI regurgitation.
As for Depp, his performance is pretty lackluster. Outside of the make-up he typically cakes on, his portrayal of the Hatter relies more on the facial expressions and paint to push his acting above effort. Meanwhile, Wasikowska in on screen for the entire movie, yet fails to provide any inspiration, drama, or character to her Alice. It’s quite unmemorable.
We are a year removed from the hardcore, in your face explosions, and practical effects of George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road, which proved how important the real deal is to audiences. Instead, the cash spent making this glorified video game will supply Disney with a bit more money in their pockets. Maybe if they are willing to spend additional careless dollars, they can supply bottles of Tylenol with a purchase of a ticket. Trust me, you’re gonna need it.
Written by: Leo Brady