Alice Through The Looking Glass (2016)

DVD Cover (Walt Disney Studios)
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Overall Rating 62%
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Ranked #1,429
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Connections: Alice In Wonderland

Alice is appointed to save her beloved Mad Hatter from deadly grief by travelling back to the past, but this means fatally harming Time himself, the noble clockwork man with the device needed to save the Hatter's family from the Red Queen. --IMDb
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Review by Crispy
Added: November 24, 2016
While I found Tim Burton's foray into Wonderland to be an unimaginative bore, enough people disagreed with me to convince Disney it deserved a sequel. Like the last movie, Alice Through the Looking Glass shares a name of the book's sequel, but the similarities end there.

After returning from her last adventure in Underland, Alice Kingsleigh has spent the last three years captaining her late father's vessel through Chinese waters. Upon returning to England, she finds that her father's business partner has passed on and his son, Hamish, has taken over. Still feeling spiteful after she turned down his marriage proposal, Hamish is delighted in explaining to Alice that he's acquired not only her family's share of the business' stocks, but also the deed to their home, the latter of which he'll gladly trade back to her for ownership of her father's ship. Unable to handle the stress of making the decision, she escapes outside for some air and a quiet place to think where she finds her old friend Absolem. Realizing that can only mean there's a problem in Underland, she follows the butterfly through a mirror to find out how she can help. Turns out the problem is with her dearest friend, Tarrant Hightop the Mad Hatter. While playing in a field one day, he discovers a small paper hat that he made as a boy and gave to his father. If that hat has survived the years, surely it means his family, long thought deceased from the Jabberwocky's attack, is also still alive. As he sinks into despair when none of his friends will believe him, Alice takes it upon herself to discover the truth of the Hightop's fate and the only way to do that is with the Chronosphere, a time-travelling owned by Time himself.

Before I sat down with this I rewatched the first movie, and while I stand by every criticism in that review, I was able to enjoy it a bit more as its own adventure. Towards that end, Alice Through the Looking Glass is more of the same: an adventure movie that simply uses some buzzwords and characters from the novels to flesh out its world. While I'll commend them for the creativity in using Time as a main character (he was only mentioned in an off-hand comment in the first book), I still can't say I'm a fan of how superficial the adaptation aspect of it was. Still, it was a fun little story; it had some entertaining moments and never dragged. That didn't do anything to fix how shallow and convoluted it was though. I mean, there was absolutely no thought put into into the finer details. For example, there's no solid reason given as to why Mrs. Kingsleigh sold Hamish Alice's stocks and the deed to her house. Or how a small paper hat survived being out and about in the wilderness for over a decade. These small, lazy oversights go a long way undermining an otherwise a decent children's adventure movie. Not to mention, the stakes are so much lower this time around. I know she loves her friend, but curing his depression is a far cry from overthrowing a maniacal tyrant that beheads her subjects for the simplest discrepancy.

Unfortunately, director James Bobin also felt the need to add some comedy to this adventure. Comedy that falls short unless your age is measured in single digits. We've got the most basic of slapstick, a collection of puns, and plenty of overacting from Tarrant and Time. Oh, and lisps, for some reason. Time, Tarrant (again with those two) and Iracebeth are all rocking some very pronounced lisps. It all falls squarely in that "it's funny cause it's stupid" mentality that I just can't stand. Yes, I know I'm a few years above the target age that they were obviously aiming for, but there's an art to making a kids' movie that isn't going to have adults eyes rolling at 45 RPM.

In my opinion, Mia Wasikowska was a sore spot in the first movie, providing a dull, unmemorable Alice. Well, I am happy to say she has stepped up immeasurably for the sequel. Being given a stronger, more confident character, she took the ball and absolutely ran with it, carrying the movie effortlessly. However, the same can not be said for her costars. As noted before, Johnny Depp and Sacha Baron Cohen ridiculously ham up their roles, while the rest of the tea party could barely be considered tertiary characters. I will say that Helena Bonham Carter and, to a lesser degree, Anne Hathaway both turned in solid performances surrounding the emotion of the added backstory between the two Queens. Given how much I felt Carter's role hurt the last movie, it was nice to see that she was able to match her character with the tone of the movie.

While I suppose it'll keep the kids entertained, it's not going to do much for anyone past their tweens. It wasn't a chore to sit through and it is slightly better than the first one, but for my money, Burton is now 0 for 2 in Underland. 4.5/10.
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