Walt Disney Studios ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS Review written by Sean Gerber May 27, 2016 Disney has been on a roll as of late. Zootopia, The Jungle Book, and Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War have all been critical darlings and box office beasts. The studio hopes to continue that momentum with Alice Through the Looking Glass, in theaters today. The sequel to the billion-dollar hit Alice in Wonderland offers spectacular visual effects and explores some very important themes. It just doesn’t explore them deeply enough to meet the high bar set by the studio’s other 2016 releases. Since we last saw Alice (Mia Wasikowska), she’s sailed around the world for three years as the captain of her own ship. We catch only the tail end of her final adventure before heading home, as she pulls of a daring escape from some unknown pursuers. It’s a simple introductory scene and works in establishing our protagonist’s abilities and, more importantly, her attitude. For Alice, you’ll never know what’s truly possible if you’re scared of what seems impossible. It’s a bit cheesy and on the nose, but at least the kids who see the film won’t miss it. Plus, it’s merely an attitude that informs much larger themes. Women are not nearly as empowered in Alice’s “real world” as they are in Underland. The man who would have been Alice’s husband, Hamish (Leo Bell), carries a grudge. He hopes to leverage a loan against Alice’s mother, Helen (Lindsay Duncan), to force Alice to give up her ship and spend the rest of her life as an office clerk. Hamish is a symbol of a much larger system meant to block a woman from choosing her own destiny. This is a very important theme and a clever enough way of introducing it to a younger audience, but the story loses sight of it midway through before coming back to it in the end. When Alice steps back into Underland to help an ailing Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), the discussion shifts to everyone’s adversarial relationship with time, who is an actual person (Sacha Baron Cohen.) Cohen is very amusing as Time and screenwriter Linda Woolverton inserts every time pun you might think of into the script. They all work, as do most of Alice‘s surface elements. Through the Looking Glass offers stunning effects that create beautiful environments. When Alice hijacks the “chronosphere” to travel back in time, she glides over a gorgeous see of all that was, is, and ever will be. She is trying to unravel the mystery of Hatter’s family, which is the source of his sudden illness. This points to another theme of the importance of unconditional love and acceptance within a family. Again, this is important and it’s a credit to the film for including it, but also unfortunate that it does not devote more attention to this. There is not enough time (sorry) for this and the gender equality themes partly due to an exploration of the relationship between Iracebeth (Helena Bonham Carter) and Mirana (Anne Hathaway.) It turns out the perfect Mirana isn’t so perfect after all and carries some responsibility for Iracebeth’s unconventional appearance. If characters are to be included, it’s important to give them something to do and this is a worthwhile subplot. It just doesn’t tie back into the main plot of the film effectively enough. It is a symptom of Alice‘s biggest problem. The film is too fragmented with the various storylines feeling like very interesting concepts from different films. They all point to interesting roads down which we could travel, but we never get past the first few steps. That doesn’t make the film a complete wash. There’s good stuff in the movie and it can squeak by as a fun, visually dynamic blockbuster. If only there had been a stronger commitment to its greatest ambitions, Alice Through the Looking Glass could have had something truly special wrapped up within the magic. ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS Review was last modified: May 31st, 2016 by Sean Gerber Related Alice Through the Looking Glass 1 comment 0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest Sean Gerber Sean Gerber is the founder and editor-in-chief of Modern Myth Media. When he's not writing here, you can catch him as the host of Popular Opinion Podcast, Batman News, and Marvel News! previous post Open Forum: X-MEN: APOCALYPSE next post Weekly Ratings Roundup: May 22 to May 28, 2016 You may also like Disney’s PETE’S DRAGON Is All About The... August 8, 2016 Disney’s THE JUNGLE BOOK Stuns With First... September 15, 2015 Disney’s CINDERELLA Crosses $500 Million Worldwide May 6, 2015 Four New Character Posters From Disney’s TOMORROWLAND April 20, 2015 Review: Movie Magic Has Evolved In Disney’s... April 5, 2016 THE FINEST HOURS Review January 29, 2016 Disney Releases First One-Sheet From BEAUTY AND... July 7, 2016 McFarland, USA review February 20, 2015 Meet Elliot In New Trailer For PETE’S... June 14, 2016 Disney Releases Teaser Trailer For PETE’S DRAGON February 21, 2016 Michael Bradley This is totally a Turn-Your-Brain-Off-And-Enjoy-The-Show kinda movie. The Hatter is a much better secondary character than to have the much of the entire plot on him. The Time character could have been better served being a true antagonist rather than what he did during the film.