2016 has been quite the year for Disney. Every movie they’ve released has turned into currency printing presses all over the world. The biggest surprise was “The Jungle Book”, a movie so effective that it won over critics and audiences alike.
And now, there is “Alice Through the Looking Glass.” This is a movie so poor that it not only crushes the goodwill built up in recent live action Disney films, it could potentially cause Lewis Carroll to come back from the dead and smite those responsible.
“Alice Through the Looking Glass” has exactly nothing to do with the Carroll novel, “Through the Looking-Glass.” There is no Jabberwocky, no Walrus, and no Carpenter. Instead, there is a horribly written oedipal tale focusing on Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter, Alice dealing with her mother potentially becoming homeless, and one of the very worst time travel plot elements in movie history.
The movie begins with Alice (Mia Wasikowska) on board The Wonder, her late father’s ship, as its captain. Alice escapes from pirates (don’t worry, Depp isn’t one of them), gets back to London, and then learns that her mother, Helen (Lindsay Duncan), has mortgaged The Wonder against their house. The hemming and hawing Hamish (Leo Bill) goes off the misogyny deep end and tells Alice she can either sell her ship to he and his partners and become a clerk like a classy lady should or lose her childhood home.
Oh, woe besets Alice. Apparently, the cure to her woes is to walk through a mirror, run off to Wonderland, and help the Mad Hatter (Depp) track down his family who were thought to be murdered by the evil Jabberwocky many years ago. The only reason she does this is because the Hatter’s pals don’t like to see him be sad.
It’s exactly as befuddling as it sounds. It becomes even more grating and painful to watch when Anne Hathaway’s Mirana flutters around, waving her arms like she’s constantly conjuring a spell.
Helena Bonham Carter’s Red Queen fares no better. When she isn’t screaming at the top of her lungs with a camera placed inches from her face, she is moping and whining. She’s basically a cartoon character version of an emo kid that never grew out of it.
It may be hard to believe, but Sacha Baron Cohen’s role as Time is fairly entertaining. He and Wasikowska have a few clever scenes with some truly amusing dialogue and he’s definitely having a blast as the person in charge of, well, time in Wonderland.
Also, Mia Wasikowska has a great heroine performance in her, but it’s just not here. She is likable, sounds and looks tough when she should, and is vulnerable at all the right moments. There’s an extremely skilled actress in there, but this movie is seriously not worth her time.
In recent years, Johnny Depp’s performances usually are one of two things: exceptional or twee annoyance. As the Hatter, he’s added to the mix by being asleep at the wheel. The eccentric character should be right in his wheelhouse, but Depp seems so bored that the only explanation is he misses his pal Burton.
While it’s confusing to see a movie essentially steal the whole “tiny robots join to become a bigger robot” bit from “Transformers”, the effects and sets are top notch. There is some serious color palette overload, but that’s one of the only things that fits the story that director James Bobin is trying to tell.
It’s tough to discern who’s most at fault for “Alice Through the Looking Glass.” Yes, the entire screenplay from Linda Woolverton is preposterous, but Tim Burton, who directed the first movie in the series, could have at least made this garbage entertaining and unique. Instead, Bobin made a Michael Bay-style adaptation of classic English literature that is unbearable from start to finish.
At the end of the day, it’s probably safe to blame Disney this time around. “Alice Through the Looking Glass” is just a big cash grab and there’s little chance even youngsters will have a good time watching this mess of a film.