ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS
No film version of Alice in Wonderland has ever produced a sequel before. That said, there is some precedent for this in that Lewis Carroll produced a sequel to the Alice in Wonderland book with Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871). What should be noted is that while it appropriates the title, the film here bears even less resemblance to Through the Looking Glass than the 2010 Alice in Wonderland did to its respective book. There are only two scenes in the film that have been taken from the book one being Humpty Dumptys fall with all the kings horses and all the kings men coming to put him back together again, and the other where Alice returns to Wonderland through a mirror. Certainly, it should be pointed out that the 2010 film ransacked Through the Looking Glass for a number of characters the Red Queen, the White Queen, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, and The Jabberwocky all of which are actually only appear in that book rather than Alice in Wonderland.
What Alice Through the Looking Glass does end up being is a sequel/prequel to Alice in Wonderland. There is the introduction of the character of Time and a time travel plot for the specific reason of going and visiting younger versions of the characters. What should be noted is that the film here offers up origins of the characters as interpreted in the 2010 film as opposed to the Lewis Carroll originals how the Red Queen got her swollen strange-shaped head, the story of the Mad Hatters family which are based on the way the characters were represented in the 2010 film and contain aspects that do not appear in the books. This falls into the modern fad for telling origin stories wherein we get to see how familiar characters came to be and what happened in the background of the main saga. This is something that works precisely to the extent that one is invested in the franchise from the low box-office enjoyed by Alice Though the Looking Glass, most audiences were not.
Alice Through the Looking Glass is routine fantasy. There are all the sets, the weird and wacky costumes but beyond making these looking impressive, James Bobbin fails to give the show much in the way of imaginative sparkle. There are various special effects set-pieces, most notably with Alice venturing back through time, but this is little more than eye candy. Among the returning cast, Mia Wasikowska is present but does nothing much, while Johnny Depp, who can usually be relied on to give an offbeat performance, is surprisingly restrained. I expected the new arrival Sacha Baron Cohen to liven things up with his unique brand of genius but even he is not up to much. It is only Helena Bonham Carter who once again gives the show its life with her haughtily autocratic Red Queen, bringing the house down with lines like Haaaa, earthquake as she shakes up an ant farm or impulsively snapping the carrot nose off a vegetable courtier and eating it.
(Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (Helena Bonham Carter) and Best Production Design at this sites Best of 2016 Awards).