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Alice Through the Looking Glass
BLU-RAY disk
11.08.2016 By: Jason Adams
Alice Through the Looking Glass order download
Director:
James Bobin

Actors:
Mia Wasikowska
Johnny Depp
Helena Bonham Carter

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Years after her first visit to Wonderland, Alice is summoned back in order to save the Mad Hatter and his family from the ravages of Time.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?

Not only is ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS five years too late, it’s also clear this was a movie nobody was interested in. (And I’m not just talking about the dismal box office returns.) You can see it in everyone’s faces; none of the returning stars—Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter—seem engaged with the material. Everyone goes through the motions, which, for a film about wonder and imagination, is even more disappointing. Poor Mia Wasikowska still tries her hardest to carry the film as the title character, but she’s continually left abandoned by pretty much everyone and everything around her.

In the sequel, Alice is called back to Wonderland once again when her friend the Mad Hatter falls in to an Alzheimer’s-like sickness over his long-lost, supposedly-dead family, prompting our heroine do go on a time-traveling adventure to make things right. It’s a story built around the Mad Hatter that doesn’t actually feature the character all that much, presumably so Johnny Depp wouldn’t have to spend too many days on set. That’s honestly not a bad thing since Depp’s ghastly makeup is terrifying to look at and his lispy performance is painful to listen to. The time travel element also turns LOOKING GLASS in to an hackneyed prequel that tries to explain things the audience doesn’t care about—how the Red Queen’s head got so big, how she came to say “Off with their heads!” for the first time, and how all the characters inexplicably knew each other when they were children. (Also equally stupid: apparently the conflict in both movies started because Anne Hathaway ate a cookie when she was a child and blamed it on Helena Bonham Carter.)

But perhaps the worst sin the sequel commits is making Alice completely unlikable. Now a no-nonsense naval commander, the title character stubbornly seems to have learned all the wrong lessons from the first movie—mainly that she can do whatever she wants because she thinks she’s special. This includes stealing a time machine and going back to the past to change everything as she sees fit, even though she’s warned that doing so could literally destroy the entire universe.

Flight of the Conchords director James Bobin takes over the reins from Tim Burton here, but feels restricted by all the visual and narrative choices made by the previous director. The new stuff, mainly everything involving character Time played by Sacha Baron Cohen (doing a wonderfully bizarre Werner Herzog impression), at least feels fresher and more imaginative, but it's bogged down by characters and story points that need to be followed up from the first movie. Visually, the film still has that obvious greenscreen look to it, making everything feel as artificial as the script.

THE EXTRAS

A fair number of special features come with this Blu Ray, although nothing too memorable or impressive.

Commentary by director James Bobin: Bobin is a funny guy and carries this track on his own fairly well. He covers the usual—fawning over the actors, sharing stories from productions, etc—but pays special attention to the visual elements and the film's unique look. Can't say the film is worth watching a second time to listen to this, but it's a solid track nonetheless.

Deleted Scenes (8:56): Five brief scenes, most of which are disposable. The only one of interest gives a little bit more depth between the odd romance between the Red Queen and Time. (Available with optional commentary by James Bobin.)

Behind the Looking Glass (8:40): A fairly short Making Of that provides a little behind the scenes info (including about Tim Burton's actual involvement in the movie) but mostly recaps characters and plot for you.

A Stitch in Time: Costuming Wonderland (4:25): Costume Designer Colleen Atwood takes you on a tour of all the larger-than-life garments made for the film.

Characters of Underland (4:47): Get brief bios and trivia about each supporting character and their roles in the sequel.

Time On... (1:46): Sacha Baron Cohen speaks in character as Time about the filming of the movie. Humorous but too short.

Alice Goes Through the Looking Glass: A Scene Peeler (2:27): A VFX breakdown that shows the looking glass scene with finished and unfinished effects. A nice showcase of the level of work that went in to the greenscreen heavy film.

Alice Goes Through Time's Castle: A Scene Peeler (1:33): Similar to the previous extra, this focuses on some of the blue screen stunt work used in Time’s headquarters.

"Just Like Fire" Music Video by P!nk (3:58): No.

Behind the Music Video (3:02): Is this really necessary?!

A DVD and Digital Copy is also included.

FINAL DIAGNOSIS

Here’s a sequel that has “contractual obligation” written all over it. With lots of silliness and cartoony visuals, ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS is probably a fine diversion for little kids who won’t be bothered much about the lack of story or performances. But for everyone else this is a time-wasting chore.

Extra Tidbit: Alan Rickman makes his final, very brief film appearance as the caterpillar-turned-butterfly Absolem.

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