ReelBob: ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’

By Bob Bloom

Considering that time is the central theme of “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” much of it seems ill used in this tedious sequel that, at times, sputters like an old 18-wheeler trying to navigate a steep mountain road.

This follow-up to director Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland,” finds Alice (Mia Wasikowska) returning to Wonderland in order to help her old friend, the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp).

It seems the Hatter believes his family, supposedly killed in an attack by the fearsome Jabberwocky years earlier, is alive.

He asks Alice to help him find them, but she doubts him, shattering his faith in her by telling him that it is an impossible task.

But The White Queen (Anne Hathaway) and Hatter’s other friends, including Tweedledee and Tweedledum, the White Rabbit, the March Hare and the Dormouse, convince Alice that she can alter time by using the Chronosphere to save Hatter’s family.

Sasha Baron Cohen gives his usual annoying performance as Time, making as many obvious “time” jokes and jabs as possible.

Like the rest of the cast, which also includes the return of Helena Bonham Carter as The Red Queen, Cohen seems to only be going through the motions for the paycheck.

Depp, in his garish makeup, simply grimaces and prances around, Hathaway flutters as she did in the original, while Bonham Carter continually yells, though she does show some moments of vulnerability and pathos.

At least, we learn the cause of the rift between The Red Queen and The White Queen.

“Alice” is filled with an artificial sentimentality that rings hollow.

In fact, the entire film, directed by James Bobin, feels like a dress rehearsal instead of the actual film.

The film is visually very pleasing, but that cannot compensate for a story that is so underwhelming and unimaginative that it teeters on dullness.

The use of 3-D does not help, because the necessary glasses seem to drain the sharpness and vividness from the color palate.

The movie is all about time. In the real world, Alice sees time as a thief and a villain that is always against you.

The lessons she learns upon her return to Wonderland — and that she takes back to London — is that time is a helpful friend who trusts you to make the most of every day.

The kids will likely enjoy “Alice Through the Looking Glass” more than adults, as the youngsters will be more forgiving of the movie’s shortcomings, concentrating more on its eye candy and special effects than its storyline.

“Alice Through the Looking Glass” is not a waste of time, but it also isn’t time well spent.

Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. His reviews appear at ReelBob (reelbob.com) and The Film Yap (filmyap.com). He also reviews Blu-rays and DVDs. He can be reached by email at bobbloomjc@gmail.com or on Twitter @ReelBobBloom. Other reviews by Bloom can be found at Rottentomatoes: www.rottentomatoes.com.

 

ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS
2 stars out of 4
(PG), fantasy action and violence, language

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