The visuals are beautiful and Johnny Depp is as whimsical as ever, but this sequel gets lost with underdeveloped characters and a scattered plot.
When “Alice in Wonderland” was released in 2010, it opened to mixed reviews but an amazing box office performance, grossing over $1 billion. The sequel was almost the polar opposite. What happened? You would think that six years to be able to work on a sequel, Disney would have produced a more polished film that would make Lewis Carroll proud. It’s more zany and uneven than the last film, in the worst way possible.
The cast, however is back, but definitely not in full form that audiences were hoping. Let’s get right to it then. It’s been three years since Alice’s (Mia Wasikowska) last visit in Wonderland. She now is a confident captain of her own ship but still bears the unconventional stigma of a non-conformist and strong-willed feminist. She then stumbles back into Wonderland through the enchanted looking glass and finds that the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) has lost his “muchness”, so to speak, after convincing himself that his parents are still alive. In a desperate attempt to rejuvenate the hatter’s madness Alice must travel back in time to save his family. In order to do so, she must steal a time traveling tool called the chronosphere that belongs to Time himself (Sacha Baron Cohen). To make the stakes even higher and matters worse, the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) returns from her long exile to exact her revenge upon Alice for killing her pet Jabberwocky dragon thing. Alice is now, literally, in a race against Time to save the Hatter’s family.
Visually speaking, of course, the film is as breathtaking as its 2010 predecessor and hits all the right notes in the CGI department. Johnny Depp has never been more versatile as he is endowed with grey hair and heavy makeup turning from hopeful to menacing in the blink of an eye, which certainly requires the efforts of a skilled actor. However, that isn’t enough to offset the film’s flaws. Character development was obviously not a top concern in Linda Woolverton’s screenplay. While it is true that we get to go back in time and see how the Mad Hatter grew up and more detail is given on the Red Queen and her sister the White Queen (Anne Hathaway), the script fails to give life into its new, central character, Time. It seems that Sacha Baron Cohen just parades around in an expensive black costume aimlessly chasing Alice through the passages of time. Let’s not fail to mention how the script abandons its source material completely and offers an unnecessary take on life in Wonderland which can often times be very annoying.
In conclusion, “Alice Through the Looking Glass” is visually mesmerizing with yet another lovably quirky performance from Johnny Depp, the master of disguises himself, but is bogged down by 1); a script that destroyed the world that Lewis Carroll made and 2); a paper-thin plot that fails to live up to what fans had hoped to be a compelling twist. It’s very likely that there will not be a third outing.
2 out of 5 stars