#REVIEW: “ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS”
Review by Siobhán Rich for Mr. Will Wong
When Lewis Carroll first introduced Wonderland, people were astounded at the fantastical world he had created. It was place where smiling cats, talking rabbits and blood thirsty queens existed beyond the realms of imagination and seemed as real to his readers as they did to young Alice. In 2010, Tim Burton reimagined that world as a vivid Technicolor acid trip and people flocked to the cinemas to meet his new Alice and follow her down the rabbit hole. Six years later, armed with a new director and a script that bears little resemblance to the source material, Alice is ready to return to the big screen in Alice Through the Looking Glass.
As the Captain of her late father’s ship, The Wonder, Alice Kingsleigh (Mia Wasikowska) has traveled the world armed with the sense of self she learned during her adventures in Underland. “The only way to achieve the impossible is to believe it is possible,” she reminds her first mate during their voyage. Unfortunately, by the time she returns to London, three years have changed the London she knew and her would-be fiancé is now the Chairman of the Board and has no intention of having a female captain a ship in his fleet. To make matters worse, during Alice’s three-year voyage, her mother’s financial situation has deteriorated. With her real world in chaos Alice does the only sensible thing she can think of: she follows Absolem (voiced by the late Alan Rickman) through the looking glass and returns to Underland.
Alice learns quickly that the news in Underland isn’t much cheerier. Decked out in a drab suit and well combed hair, Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter has lost his “muchness” since discovering his family may not have perished in the Jabberwocky attack that destroyed his village. Despite protestations from all his friends that this isn’t possible, the Mad Hatter has sunk further and further into depression. In order to save him, the White Queen (an over-the-top Anne Hathaway) comes up with a plan that will find Alice hurtling through time to save the Hatter’s family.
Time is both a repeated punchline and a key player in the James Bobin directed movie. Despite a fluctuating accent that seems heavily influenced by Werner Hertzog, Sacha Baron Cohen’s personification of Time is simply delightful. When Alice steals the snitch-like Chronosphere from the Grand Clock so she can save the Mad Hatter, her actions cause negative ramifications for Time whose very existence relies on the clock she has thoughtlessly damaged. Time feels less like a villain and more like a victim as he juggles his manipulative his girlfriend, the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter), and Alice’s blind desire to help the Hatter.
Colleen Atwood’s costumes are, as always, sumptuous perfection. From pin cushion rings for the Mad Hatter to a costume made almost entirely out of clockworks for Time, the Oscar-winning designer found no detail too small. The subtle perfection of Atwood’s designs is never overshadowed by the magnificent set pieces nor by the over the top special effects that plague the Movie.
Fans of Science-Fiction should ignore all they know about the space-time continuum as Alice races backwards and forwards through Underland’s timeline to change her friend’s past. Better yet, fans should put aside any preconceived notions as they prepare to watch Alice Through the Looking Glass because in Lewis Caroll’s world anything is possible.
Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures Canada release ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS Friday, May 27, 2016.