Time is not your friend.
The new Disney adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s tome Alice Through the Looking-Glass seems to prove it, not only with the length of the film but with the perplexing, over-the-top manner in which the story is presented. The film’s plot line barely resembles Carroll’s sequel, the follow-up to the beloved book Alice in Wonderland.
In the movie adaptation, Alice Kingsleigh (Mia Wasikowska) returns to London after a three-year adventure at sea only to be marginalized by the men who funded her expedition. Alice’s mother (Lindsay Duncan) seemingly wants her to stay in her place as well. After following a blue butterfly, she comes across a magical looking glass, a mirror portal to the fantastical realm of Underland, aka Wonderland.
With guidance from caterpillar-turned-butterfly Absolem (voice of the late Alan Rickman), Alice reunites with her whimsical buddies: the White Rabbit (Michael Sheen), the Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry) and the White Queen (Anne Hathaway). She’s told that the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) needs her help. During her journey, Alice meets Time himself (Sacha Baron Cohen) and makes a mad dash to the past to save the Mad Hatter before time runs out.
Director James Bobin (Muppets Most Wanted) duplicates the visually stunning world he inherited from Tim Burton, who helmed 2010’s Alice in Wonderland. However, the meandering pacing and convoluted storytelling make for a lackluster tea party. Even the actors seemed to lose their zeal, talking in whispers for emphasis throughout the film.
For young children, the tale is too long at nearly two hours and a tad too dark. Like Hatter, the film has lost its “muchness.”
In the film, Alice proclaims: “Every second counts.” That’s not true for this sequel.
Alice Through the Looking Glass
☆☆ (out of five)
Director: James Bobin
Cast: Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Mia Wasikowska, Matt Lucas, Rhys Ifans, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen
Rated: PG (fantasy action/peril, language)
Running time: 108 min.