ReelTalk Movie Reviews  

New Reviews
Jurassic World Domini...
Jazz Fest: A New Orle...
Chip 'n Dale: Rescue ...
more movies...
New Features
Poet Laureate of the Movies
Happy Birthday, Mel Brooks
Score Season #71
more features...
ReelTalk Home Page
Contact Us
Advertise on ReelTalk

Listen to Movie Addict Headquarters on internet talk radio Add to iTunes

Buy a copy of Confessions of a Movie Addict

Main Page Movies Features Log In/Manage

Rate This Movie
 Above AverageAbove AverageAbove AverageAbove Average
 Below AverageBelow Average
Rated 3.03 stars
by 416 people

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Overproduced Fantasy Lacks Fun
by Frank Wilkins

“Time is a thief” utters Alice Through the Looking Glass star Mia Wasikowska. In some kind of weird self-aware pronouncement, she reminds us that somehow it’s been six years since Burton’s motley crew of Lewis Carroll-inspired characters convened for their epic tea party in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. Time has not only stolen our fond memories of the 2010 original’s charm and wonder. It has also robbed us of the wide-eyed wonder and sparkling youth of Mia Wasikowska who, at 26, is way too old to play the teenaged Alice. She can certainly play younger than her age, but it’s simply asking too much of her to show that same injured naivete that made her so effective in the role the first time out.

But Alice Through the Looking Glass has far more problems than the age of its lead actress. At the top of that list? A worn out time-travel story that has nothing to do with Carroll’s literary version and even less to do with all the wonderful things that made the original so enjoyable. Adding to the confusion is a swirling mess of soul-sucking CGI which makes the whole experience feel more like a Transformers movie than a worthy follow-up to its triple Oscar-nominated original. Overproduced is the adjective that most readily comes to mind. Somewhere in the incoherent story that hops, skips, and jumps through time is an inspiring tale of female empowerment. But, sadly, it gets lost in a whiz-bang 3D video game.

Guided by a butterfly (Alan Rickman in the last role before his death), Alice falls down another rabbit hole -- or, in this case -- steps through a looking glass that returns her back to Underland where she finds the entire gang, including Dormouse, Cheshire, the March Hare, and Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee convened once again for an epic tea party. But the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) is missing. Or, as White Rabbit puts it, “The Hatter’s the matter.” Alice soon learns what has Hatter so down in the dumps. He found a scrap of cloth he thought was lost along with his family during a violent Jabberwocky attack. Hatter, now despondent and near death, believes his family is still alive and hopes Alice can uncover their whereabouts.

The plot then shifts gears and takes a turn for the ridiculous when Alice steals a time-travel doohickey from Time personified (Sacha Baron Cohen), and travels back into the past to look for Hatter’s missing family. Once in this device called a chronosphere (it somewhat resembles a steampunked version of Willy Wonka’s Wonka-vater), the CGI visuals crank up to vomit-inducing levels as Alice soars through huge ocean waves while the sky swirls in nauseating spirals, and ear-piercing lightning cracks above. Weathered visages of long-lost loved ones and hated enemies appear in the waves. Alice eventually finds the wave containing Hatter’s family, points the chromosphere at it, and plows full-steam ahead. I told you things were getting ridiculous.

The matter at hand becomes even more convoluted as the plot turns into a sort of origin story when Alice learns what made the Mad Hatter mad and the evil Queen of Hearts’ (Helena Bonham Carter) head so big. Screenwriter Linda Wolverton and director James Bobin clearly want their story to be about the characters and to give them human warmth and emotion. But it’s difficult to invest effort in getting to know characters who spend way too much time staring into a green screen abyss, looking for something to focus on. Alice Through the Looking Glass is an inverse example of the value of practical special effects. No amount of computer graphics can replace the touchy-feely tactile world of actors acting on a set with other real-life actors and costumed characters – something Alice so sorely misses.

Alice Through the Looking Glass is packed full of the latest and greatest special effects plus costume and make-up teams that Hollywood has to offer. Artist types, CGI experts, and other industry aficionados will be wowed by the spectacle on display here. But for mere film lovers, Alice misses one key ingredient that would not have tacked a single additional dollar onto the film’s $170+ million budget yet endeared the original to hordes of filmgoers: FUN. And with such rich, wacky, and whimsical source material, there should be plenty of fun to be had.

(Released by Walt Disney Motion Pictures and rated “PG” for fantasy action/peril and some language.)

Review also posted at

© 2024 - ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Website designed by Dot Pitch Studios, LLC