Alice in wonderland ( original animation) is by far my favourite Disney film by far, it’s weird, dark and overall just entertaining to watch. I always loved it and still do till this day. So when the the reboot got announced I was excited and the first time i saw it i loved it. It had it’s issues like most Disney reboots but despite the extremely negative critical response I really enjoyed it. So again when “Through the looking glass” got announced and the first trailer was shown my hype was real, I fell in love with the posters and I became slightly obsessed with it for a few weeks. So when I finally saw through the looking glass my initial hype suddenly became disappointment.
“Through the looking glass” is directed by James Bobin (not Tim Burton like the original, however he does produce) and stars Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska, Anne Hathaway and Helena Bonham carter along with newcomer Sacha Baron Cohen. It again follows Alice as her disappointing life leads her to discover wonderland, for a second time, only to find that when she arrives wonderland is not how she left it. The mad hatter has fallen ill, he misses his dead family and it’s up to Alice to find Time himself and change history. An interesting proposition but one that just leads to character development that really wasn’t needed. Did I need to see how the Red queen got a big head, or what the Cheshire cat looked like as a kitten? In the end it ruins your perception of certain characters, for me the Cheshire cat was a mysterious villainous type creature that was quite scary in the original but once you’ve seen him as a kitten playing with other kids you lose that perception of him and now this eerie image of the Cheshire cat is tainted by the image of him being a kitten. Some aspects of the time travel were quite different and quirky especially the tea time incident you see in the trailer but the majority just seemed to be unnecessary back story. There are some hints to the fact that Alice is actually mentally unstable and this is all a figment of her imagination and to me that’s the most interesting part of Alice in wonderland. Is it all real? Is it just a drug induced hallucination? I hoped (as the trailers seemed to hint) we’d get more of that especially with the whole hospital scene explicitly being shown in the trailers. If I was to make a Alice in wonderland film (which would be a dream project if I ever got the chance) I’d spend more time on the real world and how wonderland is actually just a form of escapism for Alice which is what I feel like this film attempted to touch on. The only other big issue with the plot was actually the setting. We were shown around 3 locations in wonderland (the Town, the Grand clock and the Red Queen’s castle) and never shown any of wonderland. Having a sequel like this opened up so much potential to discover the weirder and creepy aspects of wonderland. If it had taken inside outs approach of exploring all of the mind and varying parts, each with distinct qualities and quirks, then maybe it would have been more engaging. But the lack of exploration or any location variation left me wanting to see more of wonderland. I’d have thought a time travel story could have taken the film to completely new or interesting locations (for example I think visiting a growing maze would be interesting) but instead it sticks to what it knows “best” and limits itself on locationst
The cast in this film on paper should be great, in my opinion in the original they were, but now there flaws seem to be all the more obvious with only Helena Bonham carters character retaining her charm. Sacha Baron Cohen is witty but for the first time ever I’ve seen him struggle to retain an accent, on multiple occasions he slipped from his accent into his regular English voice something that clearly wasn’t intentional. Anne Hathaway had an obsession with waving her arms around which got very annoying, very quickly and Johnny Depp also seemed to consistently drop his accent (especially when changing between his two different voices). Mia Wasikowska was okay but again her accent dropped a few times and even when it didn’t drop it just eventually came across as irritating. Only Helena Bonham Carter managed to retain what she had originally, with her insane take on the Red queen. Her shouting did get a bit on the annoying side but I feel like that’s what the Red queen does and I like how they kept that. Other actors were okay and the voice cast I have no issue with. It just felt like none of the characters were portraying them the same as they were before and I blame that on the change of director. Had this been made by Tim Burton I feel as though the actors would have retained the quality they had in the original.
My final issue with the film is quite a big one, as I have said before I only nit pick technical issues if I feel like they deter from the experience and in this case, much alike X-Men apocalypse, the CGI is a big issue. There a plenty of films that use a green screen as their primary element and for the majority of the time it’s not an issue, it normally blends in to the film and if it’s done well then you won’t even pick up on it. However in this film the green screen is incredibly noticeable, johnny Depp consistently looks likes he’s prancing around a empty room with little to no knowledge of his actual surroundings. The actors also seem out of place and there’s sometimes hints of an outline where the green screen is overlaying and overall it just comes across as sloppy. I understand that a film like this will require a lot of green screen but I also feel like a film with a budget this big should probably have more physical sets (the forest for example could have been a physical set and it would have looked a lot better). The actual CGI models of characters look okay but there is no improvement over the previous Alice film. The time travelling scenes and the actual time machine also don’t look that good, it’s not a make or break issue and i don’t believe that had the CGI been better the film would have been any better, but it couldn’t have hurt to make it look a bit more polished. As I said before the directing is pretty poor and it’s very clear this film isn’t directed by Tim Burton. The soundtrack also isn’t that good especially the tone changing P!NK song at the credits which really did not fit at all, I even heard multiple people around me comment on how random the song at the end was. Considering there have been 2 Alice in wonderland songs by P!NK I have no idea why they used “Just like fire” instead of “White rabbit”.
Through the looking glass really wasn’t a film that needed to be made, yes something’s in it worked and eventually paid off well, but the majority of the film was actually ruining some things that worked well in the original. In the end I came out disappointed because a sequel like this had potential. However I can’t deny that some parts I did enjoy, there were some nods to the original that I really liked and the actual through the looking glass room is very faithful to the original room, which is something I appreciated. The film is funny and enjoyable but it’s not that good as a film. I was genuinely really excited for this when i went in came out disappointed, it could have been a lot worse but it’s cons definitely outweigh it’s pros.
Written By Dawson Roberts
Release Date – 27th of may 2016
Directed By- James Bobin
Written by- Linda Woolverton