Combustible Celluloid
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With: Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Sacha Baron Cohen, Rhys Ifans, Matt Lucas, Lindsay Duncan, Leo Bill, Geraldine James, Andrew Scott, Richard Armitage, Ed Speleers, Alan Rickman (voice), Timothy Spall (voice), Paul Whitehouse (voice), Stephen Fry (voice), Barbara Windsor (voice), Michael Sheen (voice), Matt Vogel (voice)
Written by: Linda Woolverton, based on books by Lewis Carroll
Directed by: James Bobin
MPAA Rating: PG for fantasy action/peril and some language
Running Time: 113
Date: 05/27/2016

Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The new sequel Alice Through the Looking Glass has many of the same good things going for it as its predecessor, Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (2010), but also several more bad things. The good things include the costumes and set design (both of which won Oscars last time around), strange computer and makeup effects that distort Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, and their appealingly silly line readings as the Mad Hatter and the deposed Red Queen Iracebeth. Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is also something of an action hero, which puts a small dent in the annual argument that women are not reasonably represented in film. The new movie adds an amusing Sacha Baron Cohen as Time himself (who channels Werner Herzog).

But it also lacks Burton at the helm — Muppets director James Bobin has taken over — and whereas Burton's recognizable touch might have somewhat rescued the first film from its soulless effects-driven storytelling, Bobin does not have the same power. Lewis Carroll's wonder and weirdness is replaced with sound and fury. As Alice battles roiling oceans, travels through time, storms the red castle, and tries to stop the space-time continuum from turning into rampaging red stalactites, all in the attempt to rescue the Mad Hatter's parents, it becomes apparent that no one really cares. When, at the end, Alice explains how hard it is to say goodbye to the computer-generated rabbits, dogs, cats, and twins of this world, it must be because she barely even said hello.

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