Film Critic and Writer for ComiConverse.com, the Founder and co-host of the official Nerdcast Network Podcast
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Alice Through the Looking Glass lands in cinemas May 27th. Our Lead Film Critic Jordan Samuel has seen the sequel and provides the official ComiConverse review.
Disney has proven time and time again that live-action retellings of their classic stories can work on the big screen; with movies like the recent The Jungle Book (2016) and Cinderella (2015) pushing these tales on to younger generations, while still surprising we older folk who grew up with them.
They’ve also achieved great success at the box office with The Jungle Book grossing $786.9 million, marking a new era for Disney outside the bubbling Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sadly, in that effort we were given a disappointing project in the form of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (2010).
With the movie feeling rushed, strange and unfaithful to the source material. The project was more like a weird experiment than anything else, featuring a bloated script, that went in too many wrong places involving odd character motivations. It grossed a mind-boggling ridiculous $1.025 billion at the box office, proving that the Disney empire was still a marketing machine, even when working with a questionable product. Undaunted, Disney is continuing with the 2016 sequel Alice Through the Looking Glass.
Since it was announced that this sequel was in production, I have been dreading the release, manly due to horrible taste left by the last film. I’ve been optimistic since then, because Disney would never produce another film that bad.
Let’s enter Wonderland and see if Disney has managed to redeem themselves.
Stay tuned as we provide the official ComiConverse review.
Alice returns to the magical world of Underland, only to find the Hatter in a horrible state. With the help of her friends, Alice must travel through time to save the Mad Hatter and Underland’s fate from the evil clutches of the Red Queen and a clock like creature, known as Time.
Starring: Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Mia Wasikowska and Sacha Baron Cohen
James Bobin directs the sequel, which starts with Alice (Mia Wasikowska) in the normal world living a seemingly normal life. All that changes when her mother has to mortgage the family estate and Alice’s ex-lover Lord Ascot (Leo Bill), makes known his plans to close the house.
During a party at the Ascot’s, Alice finds a blue butterfly who takes her to Wonderland. As she finds out, her dearest friend the Mad Hatter, is in deep trouble involving the demigod “Time” and Alice is called on to sort it out.
This might sound like the functional plot of a great family movie, but it just feels like a drag.
Bobin does his best at delivering something original, but instead he provides a mess of a film; lacking any of the imagination or heart the original Disney animated version had. This picture just falls into clichés that shouldn’t still be with us in 2016.
It proves to be a confusing Tim Burton rip-off, without the talent needed to succeed in its job. Bobin is talented as a Director, but you can sense he didn’t care about this project. I tried my best to look at the film in a different light, but throughout the 2-hour runtime it just got me angry.
Screenwriter Linda Woolverton needs to be sacked, because her approach on storytelling is terrible. It just ends up being a recycled reject that fails at giving the time-travel story the needed weight.
The visual effects, on the other hand, are a mixed bag. I did enjoy the colour added to Alice’s world.
A far cry from the dark dreary style Tim Burton had in his reboot, it does include some of those themes, but not on Burton’s level. The effects come across as a Diet Coke version of the last film, something that was needed to render it tolerable.
The performances are serviceable at best, with Mia Wasikowska feeling bored in the lead role, after constantly talking to animals and awful characters. Cohen is clearly just there for the paycheck with his boring take on Time – Depp is Depp again with his over-the-top antics as Mad Hatter. We’ve seen so much of him in roles like these that even his celebrity ceases to be an asset.
Bonham Carter is surprisingly entertaining in her role, making the whole film more tolerable for me. The beautiful Anne Hathaway is just half awake as the White Queen.
The soundtrack is also very generic and feels out of place in the world of wonder. I didn’t hate any of the songs, but just came away feeling unimpressed with the whimsical take on music in the outing.
Alice Through the Looking Glass showcases the fact that a financially successful original doesn’t always mean a sequel is necessary for fans, even though the studios will likely give us little choice. This feels more like a Tim Burton advert. Other major franchises are going through the same issues; including The Huntsman and the Avatar sequels, but hopefully those reworked projects won’t be this bad.
Jordan Samuel is the Lead Film Critic for ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @JordanESamuel
Alice Through the Looking Glass showcases the fact that a financially successful original doesn’t always mean a sequel is necessary for fans, even though the studios will likely give us little choice.