Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016)

 

Reviewer: Charity Bishop

 

Alice Kingsleigh (Mia Wasikowska) has not lost her "muchness." In fact, she is sailing the high seas in her father's ship, The Wonder. Gone for more than a year, her return to London finds her major financier dead and his son Hamish in control of the company. Alas, Hamish has not forgiven Alice for public humiliation -- she turned down his marriage proposal flat. He offers a choice: with her mother's impending bankruptcy, to keep either their family home or The Wonder.

 

She does not have much time to consider the offer -- because the blue butterfly (Alan Rickman) hints she has been away from Underland too long. Alice passes through a mirror into a changing world. The Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) is fading by the hour, and the only thing that can save him is finding his family. Only one problem: his family is long dead. Only by stealing a device from Time (Sasha Baron Cohen) and revisiting Hatter's past can Alice save her best friend... and discover truths about the Red and White Queens (Helena Bonham-Carter, Anne Hathaway) in the process...

 

Even though this story deviates severely from the original books, it is a complex, engaging visual masterpiece. Stunning imagery, unusual and quirky choices (including watching Hatter literally fade into black and white as his "muchness" disintegrates), and solid characterization carry on Alice's adventures. Tim Burton did not direct this sequel, but his touches are evident throughout in the creative imagery. The film fleshes out the original with background information. The word banter and hysterics are amusing, as well as the chance to see familiar characters when they are young (little Hatter is adorable, his interactions with his dad heartbreaking, and there is nothing cuter than the Cheshire Cat learning to disappear). It is a lush, fantastical, creative world with a solid message about living life to the fullest ("now is all you have") and prioritizing family that never becomes overdone or preachy.

 

Alice is a heroine for the modern age, an outspoken girl who puts herself at risk for other people, who is not afraid to embrace challenges or think up solutions. The surreal nature of the production, which is heavy on the whimsy, is perfect for fans of the original... but may not appeal to the average moviegoer. There are a few weak moments but the quick-moving plot and fun of gaining different perspectives on familiar characters keeps it magical.

     
Sexual Content:
One reference to "female hysteria."
 
Language:
None.
 
Violence:
Flashback scenes containing violence (a dragon burns down a village and kills people off-screen).

 
Other:
None.