Dreams are reality in James Bobin’s kaleidoscopic Alice Through the Looking Glass. The movie shares little but a few characters from the Lewis Carroll story of the same name, swapping the peripatetic, episodic adventures of the novella for an action-adventure mission: Alice must go back in time to save the Mad Hatter’s (Johnny Depp) family from the Jabberwocky. The ideas and lessons learned through Alice’s journey are not new, though they may be quite affecting depending on who you are (Linda Woolverton wrote the script). Warning: the movie is sentimental. Which is fine, because most American films are. And sentimentality by itself should not disqualify a movie, especially a moralistic fantasy film. Dispensing with expectations for a darker Alice, we’re left to marvel at the movie’s attention to detail, from the costumes to the teacups. The makeup is vivid, the physical transformations of the actors are striking, as are the digital renderings of landscapes. The CGI isn’t perfect, however: To emphasize the movie’s nautical theme, time travel is visualized as surfing through an ocean, which, unfortunately, looks unconvincing. The waves look 2D while Alice (Mia Wasikowska) and Time (Sasha Baron Cohen, with a spotty German accent) seem pasted over. That’s not the case on terra firma, or in general. Anne Hathaway and Helena Bonham Carter play quarreling majesties, but the visual feast steals the show.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White