Disney’s sequel to Alice in Wonderland is a film that like its predecessor, squanders its potential through its mediocre plot and instead provides yet another unworthy adaptation to film. It seems that Lewis Carrol’s beloved classic will still be waiting for the day it receives the motion picture justice it so rightfully deserves.
Director James Bobin once again uses its main leads of Mia Wasikowska, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter and of course Johnny Depp, to reprise their roles from the previous movie. However, the story takes a swift turn in focus from the previous installation by pouring attention heavily on the Depp’s character the Hatter and his troubled past. Alice (Wasikowska) is tasked with traveling back in time to investigate and prevent such past events in the Hatters life in order to save her good friend from a heartbreaking end – literally.
This overall arch in the plot to save her dear friend serves as a reminder of two themes that are continuously made apparent to the audience. The first being that nothing is impossible unless you believe it to be and the latter being that you can never change the past but only hope to learn from it. Whilst these ideas give the film potential to become a possible Disney classic, Bobin loses touch with these themes and instead becomes lost in a sea of bizarre plot devices from one scene to the next. Devices that aim to have almost no purpose with the rest of the plot of the film.
For example, at the beginning of the film, we are introduced to the conflict between Alice and her mother with her actions to turn over the deed of the house and ship to Alice’s former lover, Lord Hamish Ascot. Soon after this argument takes place, Alice is swept up once more into the realm of Underland to save the Hatter’s life but the argument with her mother is never explored or mentioned again until the end of the film. By then, we can already predict how the issue will resolve itself but its relevance to the rest of the film’s themes is completely negligible. It almost has no point of being in the film other than to generate a point of conflict for the sake of conflict and examples like this continue as the film progresses.
Having such quarrels with the plot, the film redeems itself through its high budgeted production and visuals that can be evidently seen throughout. Though filled with a high number of CGI scenes, they, in turn, add nice diversity and colour palette to the magical world of Underland. A particular mention should be given to Sacha Baron Cohen’s character of Time (a literal personification), whose intricate and detailed series of gears and windings highlight the films visual aspects. In doing so, Tim Burton’s vision from the last film retains its shape and it remains faithful to its origin as a wondrous landscape with bright and vivid characters.
Whilst visuals make a film nice to look at, they, unfortunately, do not make it enjoyable in the end. Greats films serve as vehicles for great stories to be told and it’s herein that lies the main fault of Alice through the Looking Glass. Questionable plot choices and conveniences throughout hinder the important messages of the film and instead downgrade it to yet another average viewing. However, I still believe in the films two main themes in that one day the impossible will be achieved and Alice in Wonderland will receive the A-grade film treatment it merits. ‘Till that day, let’s not focus on changing the past but hopefully learning from it.