Six years. That is how long I (and the rest of the world) waited for a possible sequel to Tim Burton’s marvel that was Alice In Wonderland. I just wish that someone had warned me about the crumbling mess that was going to be Alice Through the Looking glass; so that I could have used those six years to brace myself for the disappointment to come.
I have watched Burton’s Alice In Wonderland (2010) so many times that I dare say I know the words by heart. It is a stunning film. Tim Burton’s ability to take a rather scary and mad book and film it such a way that the outcome proves to be a visual masterpiece with delights around every corner, is something to be admired. The Book, Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland terrified me as a child…it was a mad world filled with equally mad people. The sheer thought of being lost in the chaos and insanity of it all was enough to keep me up at night.
Burton kept the madness of the novel, but made it far more charming and approachable; creating character’s that were lovable and extravagant.
The narrative of Burton’s 2010 adaptation is respectful enough of the book, yet steps far enough away from it, as to create space to play with his own take on the story; while still leaving the audience with the comfort of feeling as if they are watching a film based on the cherished book.
Then there’s Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016) a film directed by James Bobin..which lacks…any reference to the novel…or any reference to a solid story line.
I had hoped that just because Burton had moved from director to producer, that the second film would be just as wonderful as the first…oh dear.
If, you can walk into the movie house and let go of any expectation of watching a film based on the book, Alice Through The looking Glass, then everything will be just fine. If, however, you have waited six years for a film adaptation inspired by the book…well, you won’t be too happy.
Both films were written by screenwriter Linda Woolverton…and yet the two films differ to greatly that they hardly seem connected by anything other then their titles. It isn’t so much the filming, or directing, really those are fine…it’s just the clumsy narrative that sunk the ship.
The basic story line follows Alice’s attempt to save the present day Hatter, who is suffering from depression over the loss of his family, by going back in time and saving the Hatter’s family from being killed by the Jabberwocky. A touching tale, really, but not the story I wanted for expected.
The narrative is simply a weak attempt at stretching the idea of Alice In Wonderland. The plot is far too flimsy to be of any comfort while watching the film. It seems such a pity to me, that the creators of the film seemed to simply not care enough about the brilliant material of Lewis Caroll’s book to pay tribute to it. They didn’t seemed bothered enough to push themselves and adapt the novel into a film…or at least be inspired by it. To me, the narrative of the film feels like a silly idea someone came up with during a drunk night out, thought it was good, and just went with it. There was no love, no care and no admiration of the genius and subtly that is found in Caroll’s work.
The films narrative, while being sweet and thoughtful is not appropriate. It is so far fetched and detached from anything to do with the two novels that it felt like sacrilege. A bastardised story line created simply to adopt the name of Alice.
As a standalone story line, I do suppose that it would suffice- but as a reference to the book, Alice Through the Looking Glass, it left me feeling let down.
If you can let go of the soggy narrative that even Lewis Carroll wouldn’t recognise, and simply enjoy the visuals and the return of the beloved charters that are portrayed so absolutely brilliantly, then I dare say you will enjoy Alice Through the Looking Glass.
I’d like to end on happy note…the film sees the return of the beautifully crafted charters. My darling Cheshire Cat, voiced by my dear Stephen Fry. As well as nearly all the much loved character of the first film. The film is funny, and made me laugh on several occasions which was a redeeming aspect. The film also explains narratives and unexplained plots seen in the first film. Notably; why Iracebeth is so cross and hateful, why the Mad Hatter and his friends are forever having tea, as well as what happened to the Mad Hatter’s family.
The film is an explosion of beautiful cinematography, a grand scale of cinematic brilliance and really a visual delight…I’ll happily watch it again, only this time, I’ll walk into the cinema without any expectation of seeing a homage to Alice Through the Looking Glass. I’ll go for the visuals, for Sacha Baron Cohen’s brilliant performance, to see my dear Cheshire cat, to see Johnny Depp being incredible and to see Mia Wasikowska portray Alice like no on else can and because you do see the world differently when you leave the cinema. Lastly, however weak and disappointing the narrative may be, the film does carry a wonderful message; time gives, before he take away.
I would say go see the film, but don’t go see it with high expectations when it comes to the narrative…it will only break your heart.