Sunday, 19 June 2016

Review: Alice Through The Looking Glass

Alice Through The Looking Glass (2D)
Cert: PG / 113 mins / Dir. James Bobin / Trailer

Who waits six years to release a sequel? That's way too long for a movie to seem like a much-needed follow up piece*1, but far to short a time to be intended as a revival of any sort. Not to worry, The House Of Mouse luckily managed to get Alice Through The Looking Glass in the can while the inimitable Mr Rickman was still with us, and even I'll admit that my eyes became more moist than usual at his first scene in this movie.

Where the 2010's Wonderland adaptation always seemed to be a faltering balancing act between the visions of Disney, Burton and Carroll, this part-sequel/part-prequel is a lot more focussed, building on what's come before with a brand new screenplay by Linda Woolverton (rather than trying to visually re-invent a world which didn't really need it). The production design is a lot more sure-footed this time around, and the established characters and settings are now the pieces for what is essentially a time-travel adventure movie. And while I'm certainly no expert on Carroll's original stories, that's handled in a way which fits seamlessly into the newly Burtonised Wonderland.

What will also raise eyebrows among the purists is the number of action sequences in the film that feel like levels from a video-game adaptation. Not necessarily what I'd expect from a piece with such literary origins, but there are also much more subtle hat-tips to both Back To The Future and Blade Runner (which I'm always up for).

The performers are on solid form (a pleasantly surprising range for Mr Depp, and Mia Wasikowska is great as usual), even if a lot of the secondary characters seem shoehorned in for the sake of perceived continuity. And while Sacha Baron Cohen sticks largely to playing Sacha Baron Cohen™, his part itself as the personification of time is as intricate as the clockwork mechanism he's made of. Unfortunately as the film nears its climax, the plot tries to become more complex but only succeeds in being louder and more chaotic as a result.

I'm not entirely sure if Looking Glass is a 'better' film than Alice in Wonderland but I definitely found it more interesting, which counts for a lot. That said, the final fifteen minutes or so are needlessly, horrifically mawkish; the sort of thing I thought Disney had left behind now. In screenwriting terms, it all appears to be the satisfying finale which wraps up the audience's hopes and expectations, but in the cinema, it comes off more as a self-congratulatory group hug for a relatively well-executed idea.

Ultimately, Alice Through The Looking Glass wasn't aimed at me. While I was neither bored nor annoyed, I'll have pretty much forgotten about it tomorrow. Make of that what you will…

So, watch this if you enjoyed?
Well, Alice in Wonderland, let's be honest.

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
Only if you're a fan. In which case, you probably already will have.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
Just about.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
Sadly not.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
Probably not.

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
Pretty sure there's not.

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 1: This movie stars none other than Lindsay 'TC-14' Duncan and Richard 'Bravo Six' Armitage, both from The Phantom Menace.

And while I'm on the subject, an honourable mention has to go to this fella on the right-hand side in the church scene (I think it's Frederick Warder playing Poomally, but please correct me if I'm wrong), for inadvertently pulling off the best Doctor-Who-era Peter 'Tarkin' Cushing I've ever seen:

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 Not least since the events of the film (before all the time-travelling, at any rate) take place three years after the previous one, suggesting the screenplay had been in development-limbo for some considerable time.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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