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|Alice Through the Looking Glass
dir James Bobin
scr Linda Woolverton
prd Tim Burton, Joe Roth, Jennifer Todd, Suzanne Todd
with Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, Lindsay Duncan, Rhys Ifans, Ed Speleers, Matt Lucas, Andrew Scott, Geraldine James, Leo Bill
voices Alan Rickman, Stephen Fry, Timothy Spall, Michael Sheen
release UK/US 27.May.16
16/UK Disney 1h48
Somewhere in time: Wasikowska and Depp
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
Far more effective than the first film, this sequel has a stronger sense of whimsy about it, avoiding the dark action epic for something both wittier and more personal. Not only is Linda Woolverton's script much sharper, but the movie is directed by James Bobin in a way that lightens the sumptuous production design and focusses on the characters.
Alice (Wasikowska) returns to 1875 as captain of her father's ship, something her mother (Duncan) isn't so sure about. But before she can settle this disagreement, she's summoned back to Underland, where she must embark on a mission to help her friend Hatter (Depp). This involves stealing a device from Time (Baron Cohen), and travelling back to a pivotal moment in the early life of the White and Red queens (Hathaway and Bonham Carter). And all of this is causing a major rift in Underworld's fragile fabric of surreality.
Yes, this continues the adult Alice's adventures in Underland (not Wonderland), but this time it's not building to a Lord of the Rings-style battlefield. This is a far more involving odyssey centred on a personal quest that offers some genuinely thrilling suspense. The design maintains Tim Burton's visual flourishes, while Bobin injects a hint of breeziness in the dark absurdity, which thankfully keeps the story from bogging down in its bizarre contortions.
Wasikowska is feisty and imaginative as a strong-willed woman challenging 19th century sexism by demanding control of her life. Alice has clearly been designed to be a role model for young girls, and Wasikowska makes her a likeable hero we can all root for. Depp, Hathaway, Bonham Carter and Baron Cohen are cartoonish as ever, hilariously over-the-top but also refreshingly grounded characters. And they all look simply amazing.
The film is a riot of effects, from lavish sets, costumes and make-up to the colourful digital animation that fills in every scene. Everything is in motion, the dialog is fast and witty, the character interaction bursting with unexpected intrigue. And there's a complexity to the moral message that makes this a much stronger story than the first movie. This is a film about the need for honesty and the destructive nature of guilt, jealousy and regret. It may sometimes feel like it's struggling to make sense of its own metaphors (the sea of time isn't quite right), but it's packed with wit and wonder.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S
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© 2016 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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