Review: Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016)
Recently, I looked at why Alice Through the Looking Glass bombed. This inspired me to see the movie and…let me tell you now, I really regret that. If you thought its predecessor was bad, this one makes it look like a complete and utter masterpiece by comparison!
First off, the production design is really hit and miss. Some of the sets look great while others look like they came out of a high school play. There’s one instance, in particular, where Alice fell down and the woods around her looked more like something out of the drama club than a $170 million dollar movie. The same thing extends to the CGI sets. A lot of the CGI sets look beautiful but, the problem is, the actors are synced up so terribly to them that it just looks like they’re walking behind a blue screen most of the time-the blue screen effects in this movie, I swear, weren’t much better than the blue screen effects you’d see in the 60’s!
But, even then, some of the CGI sets look blobby and fake. Speaking of the CGI, that is also hit and miss. At least most of the CGI characters from the first movie look better in this movie than they did in the last one. The White Rabbit, in particular, looks better rendered in this movie than he did in the last one, where he looked like a video game character. But there are some things they use for CGI that look like, well, they came out of a video game from the mid-90’s. For example, Alice’s time machine (yes, there’s time traveling in the movie but let’s get to that later) looks like something out of a PS1 game than a big budget flick and there are things they could’ve used with practical effects that they used with CGI that end up looking really cartoony, like ships and the time machine itself.
That being said, the cinematography is a little more appealing this time around, as brighter colors are used in this movie so it doesn’t look as drab and dull as the first movie did. So…they got that right I guess.
But, once you get past the production design, the script is terrible! First of all, this movie is just as faithful to Alice Through the Looking Glass as its predecessor was to Alice in Wonderland! All it has in common with the book is that Alice goes to “Underland” (yeah, now it’s called Underland for some reason) through a mirror and Humpty Dumpty appears. Otherwise, it’s now about Alice going, I swear to god, time traveling to save The Mad Hatter’s family so he can be happy again knowing his family is alive.
However, in my opinion, even though it’s already a terrible adaptation of its source material, it might have been okay if the script was competent as its own thing. But it’s not. First off, it’s really derivative of the Burton film:
- Alice starts off the film being oppressed by society, particularly by a redheaded jerk? Happened in the first movie! (In the first one, the jerk was trying to marry her and now he’s trying to force her to stop being a ship captain for his company).
- Alice is still getting over her father’s death? Happened in the first movie!
- When everything seems to be going wrong for Alice, a creature from “Underland” appears and she follows him to “Underland” via some magic portal? Happened in this movie! (In the first one, she followed The White Rabbit down a hole while, in this movie, she follows The Caterpillar, now a butterfly, to Underland through a looking glass).
- Alice goes on an adventure to stop The Red Queen from doing something? Happened in this movie! (In the first one, she tried to stop her from oppressing The Underlanders while, in this movie, she ends up trying to change her past so she doesn’t “kill” The Hatter’s family).
- After everything, The Mad Hatter pleads with Alice to stay but Alice needs to go back to the real world because she needs to get stuff done there? Happened in this movie!
- Alice tells all of the jerks how their such big jerks and then becomes a ship captain? Happened in this movie!
And, when they aren’t being derivative of the “original”, they are being derivative of other movies.
First, some of the plot elements from this movie were used in other Disney movies that came out this year:
- So Alice, whose proven to be a capable ship captain, goes back to her hometown and, despite being good at her job, the board agrees to demote her to being a “clark”. And, not only that, but her parents agree to this decision and a redheaded jerk mocks her for it and says she can never amount to anything? And this is all because she’s a woman? Replace ship captain with cop, woman with bunny, redheaded jerk with fox, and clark with meter maid and that sounds a lot like Judy the Bunny’s character arc in Zootopia.
- Also, another famous pop culture icon thinks his family might be alive and the whole movie rests on the conflict of trying to find them? Umm…didn’t Finding Dory just do that story? Sure, Finding Dory came out a month later but I’m sure they were in production around the same time so it’s still a weird coincidence!
And it also rips off other Disney movies in general. Remember the scene in Toy Story 3 where the characters, when they think they’ll be killed by an incinerator, decide to all hold hands in their final moments? That happened here with The White Rabbit, March Hare, The Tweedles, The Cheshire Cat, some talking dog, and a teapot guy! I swear, they also have a flashback scene with The Red and White Queen and, in it, they got two little girls that look a lot like Anna and Elsa and even had the girl playing The White Queen dress like Elsa! To make things worse, there’s even a background extra that’s dressed like Anna!
But it also rips off other movies, not just other Disney movies.
At one point, Time, who is a person in this movie, sics his robot (yes, there are robots in an Alice in Wonderland movie) on Alice. And then The Robots combine together to form one big robot monster that looks like it could’ve been in one of the Transformers movies.
Plus, Alice’s time machine looks a bit like the time machine in H.G. Well’s The Time Machine.
The Red Queen’s backstory almost entirely mirrors the backstory given for The Grinch in the Jim Carrey film. Remember how, in that film, The Grinch hated The Who’s because he got embarrassed at some event and everyone started laughing at him? They did the same thing with The Red Queen, as she got embarrassed at some event and everyone started laughing at her! I swear, it’s almost the exact same backstory!
And, it just follows the same time travel story that could be found in any movie. Literally, anything you’ve ever seen in any other movie about time travel can be seen in this movie.
But the biggest problem I had with this movie is that the character’s motivations made absolutely no sense.
In the beginning, Alice finds out that, when she comes back to England, she’s no longer going to be a ship captain if her mother sells some shares to the company she works for because her boss, whose her ex-fiance, is still bitter about being stood up. Even though being stood up had no effect on his life-in fact, he got to marry some fancy lady, so he has a great life and has no real reason for still being so damn bitter except out of pettyness! And what’s worse, even though it’s implied Alice’s work as a ship captain is doing a lot of good for the company, the board actually goes along with this and doesn’t tell their boss to get over it!
I mean, I know women weren’t exactly considered equals back in victorian times, but still, wouldn’t it be in the company’s best interest to keep her as a captain if she’s making a lot of money for them?!
But it doesn’t stop there! The backstory is also stupid! So, as children, The White Queen snuck in some tarts that their mother didn’t want her and The Red Queen to eat and she blamed it on The Red Queen. This made The Red Queen try running away and, as she was running away, she slipped and bumped her head, making it large. Okay, that’s dumb, but I guess we can just write that off as fantasy world logic. Years later, The Red Queen gets angry at everyone for laughing at her because a crown doesn’t fit her head. Then, because of this, this causes her to get angry at the citizens and take over Underland as revenge. Now, maybe it’s just me, but it seems like everything that had happened in the last movie could’ve just been avoided if The White Queen told the truth about stealing a cookie! I mean, why didn’t she?! Thousands of “Underlanders” had died because she refused to tell the truth about eating a stupid cookie! What’s even worse is, at the end, she finally apologizes to The Red Queen and The Red Queen actually accepts her apology. That makes it even worse-she could’ve at, any time, just apologized to The Red Queen for framing her so many years ago and The Queen’s reign would’ve never happened which means that The White Queen is pretty much at fault for everything that happened because she refused to owe up to something really petty and stupid.
The dumbest thing though has to be near the end. So, at one point, Alice realizes the Hatter family is alive after all. Then Time, whose dying thanks to Alice screwing up the past, comes and shows her he’s dying. So, knowing the family is alive and she’s screwing up “Underland”, what does she do? Go back to Underland and tell The Hatter her family’s still alive after all? No! She goes back in time and tries to save them! Lady, I have lost complete and utter sympathy for you.
Also, when things don’t make sense, their just pointless. There’s a big action set piece set on the ship that looks like it belongs in Pirates of the Caribbean that doesn’t really have much to do with the rest of the movie. There’s also a scene where Alice goes back to the real world and gets sent to an insane asylum that is never mentioned again after she goes back to “Underland”. Oh, and there’s also a scene where Time gets The Hatter, The Hare, and The Dormouse stuck in a time loop that also has no point. In fact, the next time we see them, they’re out of the loop!
The musical score is, while okay, pretty much just the score of the original. The cast is also okay. In fact, Mia Wasikowska actually improves and seems more lively this time around, as opposed to the dull stiff she was in the original. That being said, something seems different with Johnny Depp here…his acting seems even more over the top and his lisp sounds even thicker, which makes his acting rather annoying. Also, a lot of the cast feel wasted, as The March Hare, White Rabbit, Dormouse, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, etc. barely do anything in this movie, which just makes it feel like the movie’s wasting their time. In particular, it wastes the talents of Alan Rickman and Stephen Fry. Alan only has 3 lines this time around while The Cheshire Cat doesn’t do anything and any sort of personality he had last time around has been replaced with “he’s the guy in the wonderland who can disappear and reappear”, as he doesn’t really do anything.
Although, if there is one good thing about this movie, it’s the end credits song:
Otherwise, skip this stupid, stupid movie.