I had two overarching thoughts prior to seeing Alice Through the Looking Glass – indulge my digression. First off, in line with the recent trend of fairy tale retellings, I recalled how much I hated Pan and I didn’t even see it. As someone who loves Peter Pan, the idea of a Caucasian Tiger Lily was repugnant. The idea of a Captain Hook who was not only a good, but had no hook made me sick of cinema for a week. Even as a money grab, Pan made little sense.
Fast forward to May 2016 and we are getting a sequel to the classic Alice in Wonderland story that was adapted in 2010 by Tim Burton. This time our director is one James Bobin and he, unfortunately, helms a story without the heart, colour or the imagination we should expect from a film that ventures into one of the most bizarre fairy tale domains. I feel like there is a poor soul out there sulking in bed because he has been turned off cinema owing to the fact a childhood treasure has been damn near bastardised. I empathise.
Alice Through the Looking Glass essentially sees the horribly outfitted Alice (Mia Wasikowska) travel into the past to prevent the Jabberwocky from killing the Mad Hatter’s (Johnny Depp) parents. Key characters from the last film return including *sigh* Depp’s Mad Hatter of course, the big-headed Red Queen (Helena Bonham-Carter) and the White Queen (Anne Hathaway). This brings me to the second point; how did we get to the point where a Johnny Depp credit elicits sighs? Why can’t we have Donnie Brasco back or hell, a make-up-less Depp anymore? I realise I haven’t loved (factoring in proper chronology) Depp since 2003 – that’s over a decade.
With my two pre-screening sentiments in mind, I am surprised I didn’t straight out detest this film more than I did although I have already noted the lack of investment. Instead, I just coasted through this film like the seven-year-old me being forced to watch the 7 pm news at my grandad’s. I guess the seemingly important bits of the film involve the arches of the Red and White Queen who are sisters and rivals as we know. When we travel back in time to establish why the film thinks it is dropping an ace – it isn’t. Bobin tries to explore the relationship between the two sisters but forgets he actually has to spend some time with them to do so effectively. He also left me scratching my head at the logic underpinning the reason the Red Queen’s head is so big.
As a film dealing with time travel and time ripples, the theme, and in this case, prominence of time is unsurprising hence an actual character that embodies the idea of Time. Time here is played by Sacha Baron Cohen and he is quite memorable but only for laughably bad reasons. He reminded me of Mr Freeze from the classic Bat Nipples movie. He has this weird European accent and there is this annoying scene that sees a lot of unfunny time jokes being thrown around like the horrible ice puns from that 1998 Batman travesty. On a philosophical digression, Batman and Robin was the last Batman film Bob Kane, the creator of the Batman character, saw. Simply put, life owes you nothing.
Maybe this is why I reacted the way I did to this film which, by the way, is dedicated to the late Alan Rickman. This film was made like it owed audiences nothing. It showed in the drab finale which has nothing to with the Jabberwocky because of a twist, it showed in the ponderous handling of the idea and rules of time travel and it showed in the handling of the Hatter who is not as involved as you would think though he has the most to lose. Believe it or not, he spends most of this film bedridden. That leaves us with Bobin’s attempt at some now irritating brand of fashionable feminism because Alice is time-trotting and standing up to men (that’s a little simplistic I admit).
Alice Through the Looking Glass is a money grab so you are entitled to hate it if you want but remember, the last Batman film Bob Kane was saw was Batman and Robin – we don’t always get what we deserve even if it is something as basic as a coherent plot in a film that cost $170 million to make. But take solace in the fact this film may be a box office flop. There is a God out there.
By: Delali Adogla-Bessafirstname.lastname@example.org/Ghana