It’s very difficult to analyze Alice Through the Looking Glass when you’re an avid Alice in Wonderland fan. I’ve seen the animated film from 1951 more than a dozen times and have read the book from Lewis Carroll multiple times, both in English and French. It’s not an easy task for me to sit down in front of a live-animated film, set in my favorite world to ever exist, Wonderland, and not critique the shit out of it. But here’s what I thought of Alice Through the Looking Glass.
The creativity was there. It felt like Wonderland, and that’s not an easy task. But the points they won with the nice costume design and the great work from the make-up artists, they lost with pretty much everything else. The soundtrack was great and genuinely fit the movie like a glove, as it gave some nice momentum to the action scenes and brought some emotion when needed.
The addition of Sacha Baron Cohen as the character of Time was greatly needed to give some wind power to this otherwise pretty bland film. His presence on the screen is captivating and he stole every second (ah!), even alongside some beloved characters like the Red Queen. He brought humor and ridiculousness to Wonderland, which helped lift this very serious rendition of the world to how wacky it’s actually supposed to be.
Unfortunately, parts of the film made no sense whatsoever. Alice has to travel back in time, makes some enemies doing so, and is warned she might actually destroy “time” if she keeps on going. Spoiler alert: she keeps on going. She’s a heroic badass, but as a grown-up who’s been the captain of a ship, I would expect her to know better than face the possibility of “killing” everyone in Wonderland just to make the Hatter happy again.
It seems like they injected an enormous amount of movement and action to compensate for the non-existent force driving her to time-travel. Yes, believing that nothing is impossible is great (the word even says it “I’m possible” [Editor’s Note: *groan*]) but is it a valid reason to risk destroying everything? The lack of plot shows in painfully long scenes of her navigating through endless CGI water. I felt like there was a lot happening but it took forever to get there. Or at least it felt like forever.
Even if we forget about the shaky plot, there is still a lot of flaws in the film. We did have a few great moments of laughter with Time, some empowering scenes with Alice, and a delightful flashback with the wonderfully lovable Young Hatter. Those moments were more than needed but they couldn’t save me from the awkward acting of Johnny Depp. 80% of his dialogue was lost, and I barely understood any of his lines; is it the method acting or did he get a wisdom tooth removed? I’m not too sure. All joking aside, the Hatter did shine a bit more when Depp was using a physical approach to the scene or at least when he didn’t mumble his way through a dialogue.
I wish I liked the film, because I’m easy to please when it comes to anything related to Alice in Wonderland, but I simply didn’t. I left the movie theatre confused because I was happy to see Wonderland once again, but I couldn’t put a finger on what I liked or if I had even liked anything. The movie was long and then rushed at the end. We heard about origin stories that could haven been interesting but ended up being useless and completely ridiculous. I’m sorry, but Alice Through the Looking Glass is a mess – a mess with some great moments filling up space once in a while, but still 113 minutes of uninteresting CGI-injected vomit.