While Disney was over the moon with the success of Tim Burton’s 2010 Alice In Wonderland, the thought of another James Bobin taking over had to be troubling at first. How could he be expected to achieve any level of success after director Tim Burton created Alice in Wonderland his way and set the bar so high? Burton concentrated on bringing his darker version of Wonderland that was full of frivolity to the screen, and it translated into massive box-office success.
Luckily, it appears Mr. Bobin has learned some valuable lessons from Burton’s 2010 film and concentrated on making Alice Through The Looking Glass, in theaters this weekend, in line with his version of Wonderland. The result is a movie with broad appeal and chock full of heart.
Our story continues in London around 1875 when Alice escapes troubling times by diving through the looking glass. Alice immediately is reunited with Mirana (Anne Hathaway), Tweedledee and Tweedledum (Matt Lucas), the Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry), the blue butterfly Absolem (voiced by the late Alan Rickman), and a myriad of pals from her last trip to Wonderland.
Everyone is happy to see Alice once more, but they have sad news: The Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) has gone off the deep end with “delusions” and believes his family is still alive. No one buys into Hatter’s “delusions” because everyone believes they were killed long ago by the evil Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter). Alice pledges to get to the bottom of all this and embarks on a quest to meet time (Sacha Baron Cohen) and acquire the Chromosphere, a magical gold ball that enables one to cross the oceans of time so someone can go back and attempt to change history.
Linda Woolverton wrote both the screenplays for Alice In Wonderland and Alice Through The Looking Glass and developed two fantastic narratives. In Alice In Wonderland, the focus was on the bizarre and the magic of Wonderland. In Alice Through The Looking Glass, the focus is on the love of family.
This is where Alice Through The Look Glass is right, as it would have been foolish to try and replicate the original film. This movie needed to set itself apart from its predecessor, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. While Alice In Wonderland indeed provides more in the way of fun and frivolity, the sequel certainly has way more depth to it than the original. The visuals are certainly surprising and exceed expectations. Bobin makes a concerted effort towards brightening the look of Wonderland by adding more fluorescents to the visual palette. The result was a Wonderland that illuminates the screen and has the ability to draw audiences in.
The production design in Alice Through The Looking Glass far surpassed the original film. The highlight visually had to be the Clock of Time. Grand in scale, intricate in its design; and truly at the epicenter for more than half of the film.
Critics are taking this movie to task for providing a tremendous amount of background. However, when the story told is breaking new ground in a universe that has been around for over 100 years, it’s unreasonable to expect anything less. Now Alice Through The Looking Glass could have been susceptible to the background story overshadowing what is on the screen, but the story is interwoven throughout the course of the film with precision.