Alice Through The Looking Glass

Directed by James Bobin
Starring Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Sheen, Mia Wasikowska, Alan Rickman, Sacha Baron Cohen, Rhys Ifans, Stephen Fry, Ed Speleers, Timothy Spall, Barbara Windsor, Paul Whitehouse, Karol Steele, Joanna Bobin, Bill Thomas, Matt Lucas and Toby Jones
In UK Cinemas May 27th, 2016

by Haresh Patel

Disney’s live action / 3D juggernaut of a schedule is unstoppable.

Alice Through the Looking Glass is a follow up to their 2010 CGI-fest Alice In Wonderland, directed by Tim Burton. Here he takes a backseat as a producer, putting James Bobin in the driving seat. Bobin’s work with The Muppets in 2011 and Muppets Most Wanted in 2014 put him at ease with a kooky world, CGI and general nuttiness, and this film lets him have every single elbow on every single button.

The all-star cast are back in their positions, with a new addition of Sacha Baron Cohen as a new-not-really-in-the-book character of Time himself. Apart from the central roles for Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, there’s a laundry list of old and new day players, who all get their allocated 10 minutes in the super graded spotlight.

In this take on the Looking Glass, the barest of notions to the Lewis Carroll book are nodded to: There’s a Looking Glass, there’s an Alice, and the main characters are in it. But the chessboard concept of the book is elbowed for a roller coaster ride involving a time machine, alternate history-meddling, origin story brewing, and the ubiquitous super smooth, UltraHD, CGI rollercoaster camera-whirling extravaganza of a final set piece. You can just feel the endless thousands of hours of rendering time dripping off the screen.

Sacha Baron Cohen’s Time starts off promisingly kooky, and his performance choices push for a Werner Herzog-for-kids oddness that he seems comfortable in at the beginning, but of course he has his facial hair to hide behind.

For all the supersaturated colours, textures, 3D and super luxe CGI, the film feels comically devoid of anything but surface. The women come off as really doing their best under the hot lights and inches of makeup, but Depp and the male characters seem like the result of a lot of boardroom discussions about graphs, focus groups and marketing charts. The Mad Hatter’s father complex backstory seems comical and hackneyed, as if lifted from a hundred student emulations of Tim Burton’s own films.

If you liked the look and feel of Alice In Wonderland, you’ll like this. If you didn’t, there is nothing here to change your mind.

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