“Alice Through the Looking Glass” a Messy Sequel
By Skip Sheffield
Curiouser and curiouser. That’s the polite way of describing “Alice Through the Looking Glass.” “A Mess” is more to the point.
Poppycock and folderol are old-fashioned words that explain the plot of “Alice.” The plot cost may $1.98 at a used book store for Lewis Carroll’s 1871 “Through the Looking Glass.” The rest of the $100 million budget was spent on computer-generated gimmicks, special effects, costumes and makeup.
Screenwriter Linda Woolverton, who adapted Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” in 2010, pretty much threw out Lewis Carroll’s sequel, “Through the Looking Glass,” and instead fashioned a new whimsical fantasy in which Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is now a bold twentysomething heroine, Captain of her father’s sailing ship, the “Wonder.” So director James Bobin (“The Muppets”) starts the movie with a blast of high-sea action with Alice and her crew fighting off pirates and dodging ragged rocks. This has absolutely nothing to do with “Through the Looking Glass,’ but it does give kids some CG action.
Back in London, Alice learns greedy real estate magnate (and former boyfriend) Hamish (Leo Bill) intends to seize the “Wonder,” trading the title for the house where Alice’s mother (Lindsay Duncan) resides. Otherwise he will evict her.
With things looking grim on the home front, Alice slips through the looking glass (mirror) of the title and returns to what formerly was known as Wonderland. Now it’s Underland, for no good reason.
Alice’s old friend the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) is in a major funk. He misses his family, the Hightopps, who have been abducted and possibly murdered by the evil Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter), now called Tracebeth. Tracebeth’s sister, Miranda (Anne Hathaway in a platinum wig) is now the White Queen. Borrowing from “Back to the Future,” Alice, with the help of a magical Chronosphere taken from Time himself (Sacha Baron Cohen, outfitted in a ridiculous “Wizard of Oz” crossed with clockwork costume) will go back in time to save the Hightopp family. On her backward journey Alice meets familiar characters; the White Rabbit (Michael Sheen), the caterpillar/butterfly Absolem (the late Alan Rickman, to whom the film is dedicated) the Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry) and Tweedle Dum/Tweedle Dee (Matt Lucas). Humpty-Dumpty (Wally Wingert) even gets a cameo, cracking up once again. There is much more back story and “stuff,” but it is all much ado about nothing, finally slogging to a treacly-sweet ending.