Alice Through the Looking Glass


This is probably the most inevitable sequel since The Empire Strikes Back. The first movie made a cool billion (one of only twenty five films to do so) and the book it was based on already had an equally famous follow up all ready for adaptation. As with Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, all this new film takes from its classic source material is the title and the characters but, as was the case with that movie, Alice Through the Looking Glass is an imaginative and endearing tale of fantasy and feminism.


The first Alice adventure received a critical savaging I don’t quite understand. It wasn’t a good version of the book but it wasn’t trying to be and there are plenty of other films that have done that. It also wasn’t as effortlessly bizarre as Carroll’s sublime original vision, the weirdness being a bit laboured. It was fun though, with enough familiar elements and a good female lead.


Mia Wasikowska has deliberately taken her career off in other directions since and there is no doubt that she is only doing this for contractual reasons. She manages to recapture and extend her character from before though, even if it is quite different to what we might now expect from her. (To see her at her best check out Crimson Peak, Tracks or the brilliant brilliant Stoker.) 


If you weren’t a fan of Tim Burton’s Wonderland film then there’s probably nothing for you here and if Johnny Depp annoyed you before then you should definitely stay away. If you are up for a second helping though then you are all set. New director James ‘Muppets/Flight of the Conchords’ Bobin has served up a fitting part two.


The story is a little more complicated than it needs to be. It starts with Alice captaining the trade ship she sailed away in last time. She shows herself to be an audacious sailor but new boss and rejected proposer Hamish has more patriarchally oppressive plans for her. Escaping to Wonderland she discovers that the Mad Hatter is terminally depressed and needs to steal a doohickey from Father Time so she can travel to the past and save him. These backward journeys give us origin stories for the hatter and the read queen, both of who needed their background fleshing out about as much as Maleficent and a little of their charm and characterisation is lost. What the plot does do is stand as a platform for some brilliant visuals. Wonderland looks wonderful and the design of the film is fantastic. 


I don’t imagine this film will do business to rival its predecessor but it is a perfectly enjoyable ride. 

The Ripley Factor:
Probably the best thing about both of these movies is the female protagonist. This is a woman with total control over her own story who is flawed but brave, clever and dynamic. She is a proper role model and that is to be celebrated. 

Is this one for the kids?
The film is a PG and there is little here to scare. No one loses their head.

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