Despite what many may think about this film, I loved it. It’s far better than its more meandering predecessor–which wasn’t terrible, either.
No longer in the auteuristic grasp of Tim Burton, but just within reach, is a movie which isn’t so concerned about contriving a certain tone that it loses what makes it organically appealing. This one is way more fun because we’re actually on an adventure, rather than simply sitting through a series of disjointed events. Here, things actually happen.
Alice is summoned back to Underland because the Mad Hatter is dying. He is losing the will to live. He believes his family is still alive, yet everyone is telling him that they’ve died. After holding on a little longer for Alice to come to his rescue, she also admits that she also believes him to be wrong. The White Queen convinces Alice that there is one way to bring his family back–to go back in time.
Aside from a few minor time travel plot holes, the only big problem, if any, is the abundance underutilized characters. We literally get nothing from the Cheshire Cat, the White Rabbit, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, among others. They are there so we can say they are. But besides the occasional lark, they serve almost no purpose.
We are, however, introduced to a new character, Time, played by Sacha Baron Cohen. He’s the gatekeeper of the past, present, and future, and possesses a device that Alice must steal so she can go back in time. With a Schwarzeneggering accent, Cohen provides us with most of the levity throughout the film. He’s not over-the-top and he doesn’t overstay his welcome.
Helena Bonham Carter nearly eclipses her performance from the first movie, convincing as the heartless, yet insecure tyrant, even long before revealing further depth in her character.
With dialogue much more fit for following along, Alice Through the Looking Glass is easier to understand than the first film–which is odd since this is the one that features the main protagonist traveling every which way throughout the time circuits. Usually a film with this much time travel would get confusing, but the filmmakers avoid ever making it convoluted.
Even though everything in this movie looks amazingly attractive to the eye, every beat is necessary. Every beat feels necessary. Every time travel. Every place Alice goes and does. There aren’t any filler scenes.
To truly appreciate this film, you must first appreciate the relationship between Alice and the Mad Hatter carried over from the first movie–otherwise you may not care all that much.
There is a great vision for this film, and an even better execution. I loved it. Don’t let the reviews fool you–it’s enjoyable. One of my favorites of this year.