Disney’s latest live action fairy tale is “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” the sequel to 2010’s “Alice in Wonderland.” However, the return to Underland is unfortunately heavy with CGI and light on emotion for viewers.
The film, like the book it is based on, follows Alice some time after her first round of adventures in “Underland.” Here she is a sea-captain striving for her “six impossible things before breakfast.” But when she returns to land, she is confronted with the inevitability of growing up and taking responsibility. Saved by the bell,or rather the sound of Alan Rickman’s last performance to hit theatres, Alice finds herself in Underland once again, with a mission to save the first the Hatter, and eventually the world when she begins playing with powers outside her control. When Time begins collapsing, Alice must take this chance to learn from the past, in order to save the future, both hers and her friends.
With the seemingly high stakes, the nonchalance with which Alice takes action lulls the audience into a sense of safety which is never broken. This undermines the excitement for the viewer, leaving a rather unfulfilled feeling when the credits roll.
Even a lively performance from Helena Bonham Carter doesn’t save this movie from its biggest drawback: too many effects. Chained to the effects style of its 2010 predecessor, “Alice Through the Looking Glass” is so colorful and clearly CGI that it will be dated in less than a decade with the strides being made in computer graphics. Not just the effects, but the schtick of Johnny Depp wearing funny hats and too much make-up is just as dated as the CGI.
At its core the movie may have a message of coming to terms with growing up and taking responsibility for ones actions, paralleled with the back story of the White and Red Queens sibling rivalry that explains why the Red Queen’s head is so big. The latter pays off far more than the former, and the reconciliation of the sisters is the emotional high note, not Alice and her mother sticking it to the corporate money-grubbers who sought to oust Alice from the business and her ship.
Don’t expect “Alice Through the Looking Glass” to succeed in more ways than pure spectacle, and when facing a film like “X-Men Apocalypse” whose spectacle promises to be grander and better rendered, this is another stab at the fairy-tale genre that will fade into myth.