Screenwriter Linda Woolverton brings Lewis Carroll’s beloved characters back for a second live action installment in the sequel to the 2010 adventure Alice in Wonderland. In Disney’s highly anticipated, yet underwhelming film, Alice Through the Looking Glass, “Alice” (Mia Wasikowska) returns to Wonderland, beckoned back to the fantastical world to save the Mad Hatter. In a race against time himself, Alice must save the Mad Hatter’s family thought to be lost to the flames of a deadly dragon years ago. (JEP: 3/5)
Review by Contributing Editor Jessica E. Perry
When the film opens, Alice and her crew are attempting to outrun enemy pirate ships, in a Pirates of the Caribbean-esque chase. Alice is quick to outwit the pirates, and after a long journey at sea, she finally returns home to her waiting mother “Helen Kingsleigh” (Lindsay Duncan). Alice was expected back over a year ago, and in her absence things have changed. The deed to her mother’s house and her father’s ship “The Wonder” are now held by the young, pompous “Hamish” (Leo Bill), whose pride was wounded by Alice years ago when she rejected his proposal of marriage.
Hamish demands that Alice relinquish ownership of her father’s ship in order for her mother to keep her house. Alice is stubborn and immediately refuses, inviting herself to Hamish’s lavish party to argue her case. But clinging to nothing more than a memory Alice knows she must ultimately do what is best for her mother.
When things don’t go her way, Alice retreats to the upstairs rooms of the lavish mansion where the party is being held, and locks herself in a study. Her thoughts are immediately interrupted by “Absolem” (voiced by the late Alan Rickman), who beckons Alice back to Wonderland, leading her through a mysterious glass portal housed in the study. Alice falls down, down, down, landing amongst old friends from Wonderland including “Mirana” (Anne Hathaway) and “Tweedledee” and Tweedledum” (Matt Lucas). Mirana informs Alice that something is wrong with their beloved friend “Hatter Tarrant Hightopp” also known as the “Mad Hatter” (Johnny Depp), and that only Alice herself can save him. So Alice makes her way up to Hatter’s home to hear his story.
An overwhelmed Hatter explains to Alice that, buried in the dirt, he found the first hat he ever made. Given to his father, who perished along with the rest of Hatter’s family in the flames of a great dragon, the hat should not have survived; but somehow it did. If the hat survived, then so must’ve his family. Ever since Hatter learned of his family’s true fate, his life force has begun to fade away. He begs Alice to help him find his family, but she does not immediately believe Hatter’s story. Enraged Hatter tells Alice to leave his home, but ever the true friend, Alice vows to help Hatter anyway.
Mirana explains to Alice that “Time” (Sacha Baron Cohen) is not a concept, but instead, a man, and that to save the Hatter she must venture to Time’s castle, and acquire the Chronosphere housed in the grand clock. The Chronosphere will allow Alice to travel back in time to save the Hatter’s family. But this is no simple task, and Alice is faced with numerous obstacles along the way, including Time himself and Mirana’s evil—yet sorely misunderstood—sister “Iracebeth” (Helena Bonham Carter).
Alice Through the Looking Glass is Disney’s attempt to return audiences to the world of Wonderland so many know and love. However, as is the case with many sequels, Alice Through The Looking Glass is nothing short of underwhelming. The movie is fine, the plot is fine, and the characters are fine. But the film does nothing to surprise its audience, and incredibly strong actors fail to deliver performances to match their skill. Woolverton’s screenplay is quite possibly too scary for young children, but surely not strong enough to enthuse an older audience. So Disney misses it’s demographic with this Alice installment, and sadly ticket sales reflect the film’s missteps.
Top Photo: “Alice” (Mia Wasikowska)’s attire is frowned upon by the guests of the party, and by her mother “Helen” (Lindsay Duncan).
Middle Photo: The “Mad Hatter” (Johnny Depp) makes an incredible discovery.
Bottom Photo: Alice returns to the fantastical world of Wonderland.
Photo Credits: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
With numerous notable leading ladies, Alice Through the Looking Glass passes the test within the film’s first ten minutes.
When Alice returns home after a long journey at sea, she is greeted by her mother Helen. The two women talk about Alice’s desire to embark on another journey, and her stubbornness in refusing to conform to the expectations of a lady of her time.