Through The Looking Glass Reviewed
Through the Looking Glass starts where the last one left off, with Alice as a ship's captain trying to outrun a fleet of pirates. No, I didn’t make that up, but it did take me a second to remember that this was how director Tim Burton decided to conclude things with his main character. But Captain Alice is just the frame story; the real story is that the Mad Hatter is now the Sad Hatter because he misses his family. And if we can’t turn that frown upside down the Hatter is going to die.
I suppose the thinking is when you have Johnny Depp in your movie you have to make the movie about Johnny Depp, though I don’t know why that is still a rule. Since the last Alice in Wonderland came out Depp has become better known for his bombs--Mortdecai, Transcendence, and The Rum Diary--rather than his successes. And it looks like the theme of failure is starting to cross over into his personal life as well. The movie supports a robust cast, but most of Depp's fellow actors are wasted. Academy Award winner Anne Hathaway spends most of the movie sitting quietly, watching the sky change color.
The one thing the movie can hang its (mad) hat on is that, like the previous movie, the computer graphics look great. Director Jason Bobin, who takes the reins from Tim Burton, is able to recapture the visual mastery, but that is the movie’s only strength. He is unable to match the narrative tension in Burton’s original, which wasn't even that strong to begin with.
I vaguely remember reading Through the Looking Glass when I was younger, and this is not Through The Looking Glass. Burton sort of combined Carrol’s two original stories, so the sequel writers were left with no source material to mine. Because of this, Alice Through the Looking Glass was a low-stakes story, and thus less interesting to watch. Though that’s what happens when you walk into a dream world; it's hard to stay invested in your character's trouble when all she needs to do is wake up. Which unfortunately might also be something the audience has to do when the credits begin to roll. D-