The original Alice in Wonderland (1951) is a masterfully animated and iconic Disney classic. The 2010 Tim Burton-directed, live-action remake is a sorrowful, disappointing, Hollywoodized, failure. It is undoubtedly one of the worst film remakes of all time. It also has one of the worst screenplays of all time. Anything magical was replaced with unnecessary drama and Burton tropes. The acting is bland, and the plot is filled with so many holes and pointless politics… I can’t come up with a decent comparison, but you know what I mean. It was this movie that “told” Disney that they could remake their classics in live-action and make a crap ton of money in the process. The remake grossed over a billion dollars! I’m not sure why. The most probable reason is the foreign gross; otherwise it could be the lack of any blockbuster films being released at the time, or every Johnny Depp fan flocking to the theater on the opening weekend. Whatever the reason, we have Alice in Wonderland (2010) to thank for Maleficent, Cinderella (2015), and The Jungle Book (2016); all of which are equally pointless. Oy, it’s the opening paragraph of the review and already I’m ranting about Disney live-action remakes!
Alice Through the Looking Glass is directed by James Bobin and written by Linda Woolverton. Stars-Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Anne Hathaway. Premise-After discovering a trinket from his childhood, the Hatter begins to believe that his family survived the Jabberwocky attack. Alice is called back to Underland to help the Hatter by traveling back in time to learn what really happened on that day.
Let’s do the positives first because I’ve got 6 pages of notes with negative things to say and I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining the whole time. Mia Wasikowska actually emotes in this movie! It’s nothing spectacular, but at least she had more facial expressions beyond, “slightly skeptical.” Some of the F/X are impressive and the makeup/hairstyling is just as imaginative as they were in the last film.
I don’t think anyone on screen really cared about the movie. The actors aren’t really trying (especially Depp, Carter, and Hathaway). The story, which we’ll get to, is just as lazily/atrociously done as before, and the whole point of the movie seems to be “Let’s see if we can milk any more money off of this franchise!” I will say this, because this movie is directed by James Bobin (director of The Muppets and Muppets Most Wanted), it is more lighthearted and colorful than its predecessor. But (all together now), “CGI-candy can only go so far!”
This movie’s humor sucks. Not only were none of the jokes funny to me, but the audience I saw it with never reacted to the film. Not a giggle, a gasp in awe, just absolute dead silence. The camerawork is also poor. We get quite a few awkward extreme close-ups, shaky cam, and weird focus. Say what you will about Burton, but the man can frame a shot. Also, the supporting Wonderland Underland characters (the Tweedles, White Rabbit, Cheshire Cat, etc.) hardly do anything.
Now we’re getting into the spoilers, which (in turn), means that we’re getting into the more atrocious parts of the writing. Before this rant begins, I will admit that I haven’t read the Alice in Wonderland books, but by now everyone should know that a movie should be good on its own merits. I will begin with the conflict of this movie. It’s terrible. Here it is in a nutshell, “the Hatter is sad.” If that doesn’t tell you that the filmmakers are relying on Depp to bring in audiences, I don’t know what will. Yes, that sounds mean, especially since the Hatter actually ends up dying (he didn’t die, just dying) because of a depression brought on by the belief that his family is alive. Point is, this is a lazy conflict.
The premise I wrote is just the first snowflake on top of Mount Everest in terms of what the plot actually is! Alice (who is a sea captain now) returns to her home to find that Hamish, who she refused to marry in the first movie, has risen to a higher seat of power, and (out of spite) forces Alice to sell her father’s ship and work for him. It is after running away inside of a mansion, she locks herself into a room where Absolem (voiced by Alan Rickman) leads her to a random mirror that magically transports her to Underland (that’s what they call it in the movie, that’s what I’m calling in this review). They never explain this, and yet, it is this plot device which constantly shows up at the most convenient times. Anyway; Alice learns about the Hatter’s predicament and (after some phoned-in drama) decides to help. The White Queen tells her that the only way to learn what happened is to go back in time. Ok, two things. One-is that even in the freaking book? Two-time travel? Really? This film is not nearly talented enough to pull-off the time travel plot.
This movie juggles (almost) as many pointless subplots as God’s Not Dead! But seriously, what does this have to do with the dang book, man! I researched the book, and what I found does not nearly resemble what this movie is. The movie is called “Though the Looking Glass” and yet, that is not even the main point of the movie. The movie tries to do family drama between: Alice and her mother, the Red Queen and the White Queen, and the Hatter and his father. I’m not kidding; each one of those relationships is a cliché. Alice’s mother wants her to be prim and proper when Alice is free-spirted and adventurous, the queen sisters are just siblings who don’t get along, and the last one is “the father disapproves of what his son wants to do.” Were they even trying? The moral (yeah, there is a moral) is really confusing. It’s either “be yourself/different” or “family is important.” I don’t really care because none of these characters are unique or compelling enough to teach morals.
All I can hope for is The Nice Guys or X-Men: Apocalypse to be much better than this pointless, unfunny, boring, horribly-written, lazily acted, wasteful “family/fantasy.” I put spoilers in this review because NO ONE should see this movie. Alice Though the Looking Glass gets Guy’s Guru Grade of a D.
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