After slipping through a mirror, Alice Kingsleigh (Mia Wasikowska) finds herself back in Wonderland with the White Queen (Anne Hathaway), the Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry), the White Rabbit (Michael Sheen), Tweedledee and Tweedledum (Matt Lucas). Her friends tell her that the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) is depressed over the death of his family. Hoping to save his loved ones, Alice steals the Chronosphere from Time (Sacha Baron Cohen) to travel into the past. While there, she encounters the younger Hatter and the evil Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter).
I would like to start off by saying that I haven’t seen the first film in the series, Alice in Wonderland, so I went into this a little blind but I didn’t let that stop me. I promise to review Alice in Wonderland when I get the chance. After having watched this, I kind of wish I had watched the previous film as I had the feeling that I may have missed out on some things here. I can’t say with complete certainty that watching the first one is absolutely necessary but I don’t think it would hurt either.
I would also like to take this moment to bring up Alan Rickman. He has had a great career with many memorable roles but he unfortunately passed away earlier this year. I had the opportunity to see and review his last onscreen appearance in Eye in the Sky and now we have his last last film appearance, providing his voice, in Alice Through the Looking Glass.
Not watching the previous film probably hurt the most at the beginning of this one, trying to figure everything out on the fly. Having a vague knowledge of the characters definitely made it easier. The film doesn’t waste much time getting into the main plot with Alice being unhappy with her life once she loses her chance at adventure. Nothing fills that hole better than the opportunity to return to Wonderland. Once she arrives, she is soon greeted by all her friends including the White Queen (Hathaway) and the Cheshire Cat (Fry) just to name a few. All is not well, however, as the Mad Hatter (Depp) is upset as he encounters proof that his presumed dead family may still be alive. He is upset at the other because they don’t believe him, including Alice herself. This has caused great strain on the group’s relationship so they enlist Alice to try to cheer him up. To do so, she must steal a device called a Chronosphere from Time (Baron Cohen).
The whole aspect of time and time travel does create some interesting experiences here (at least I think they would if I had seen the previous film) where we get to see main characters as they were in the past. This means that we got some backstories on some of the characters (I don’t know if they got any in the previous film). Even without watching the previous film, it was still nice to get some background on some of these characters. Of course Alice is the only one who can go back in time so she is our vehicle for these experiences which doesn’t come as much of a surprise. The plot has it so characters from Wonderland cannot encounter their past selves otherwise time would break. The time travel logic was a little iffy at best but this is a Disney film so you’re not supposed to question these kinds of things.
Also being a Disney films, there were several themes permeating throughout such as “You cannot change the past, you can only learn from it” and family which were not much of a surprise either and were okay. This was pretty easy to figure out as along Alice’s journey she made discoveries while also making mistakes and then learning from them (as most Disney characters do). Alice’s journey was okay to watch but was never overly exciting. What was nice to watch were the visuals. they was definitely an abundance of CGI (perhaps too much) but everything was both vibrant and colorful. You also couldn’t help but get a sinking feeling that a lot of it was done in front of a greenscreen.
The performances were okay here with Wasikowska being a serviceable lead as Alice, making her likeable and compelling to watch regardless of the material. Depp manages to get lost again in a makeup heavy role, having fun with his craziness and was okay to watch even though a lot of his funny bits didn’t quite work. Baron Cohen’s Time was okay despite being a little too much of a one-dimensional villain while using a few too many cliches or time-related puns. Bonham Carter was slightly more interesting as the Red Queen with some funny quips and one-liners.
Overall, while perhaps being unnecessary, this was still an okay film with some nice special effects and decent performances which should entertain kids with a story you’ve probably seen before which may or may not leave you on the bored side.