ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS
Bobin’s gone for a Burton
released 27 May PG | 108 minutes Director James Bobin Cast Johnny depp, Mia Wasikowska, Helena Bonham Carter, rhys Ifans
Why did the Mad Hatter go mad? What made the Red Queen fall out with the White Queen? These and other questions you probably haven’t been asking are answered in this return visit to Tim Burton’s “Underland”, which creates a backstory for characters that didn’t particularly need one.
Once Mia Wasikowska’s Alice has re-entered Underland through the titular mirror, this adaptation jettisons any attempt to reflect its source, instead giving Alice a Mission Unpossible: travel back in time to find out what happened to the Mad Hatter’s family, the unresolved fate of which has driven him to the edge of despair.
Movies have been made on flimsier pretexts. At least this one enables incoming director James Bobin to play his trump card: Sacha Baron Cohen as Time. It’s his domain Alice must penetrate to pinch the “chronosphere” that allows her to sail on the “oceans of time”. That’s only the beginning of an adventure that has Alice meet juvenile incarnations of the Hatter and White Queen Mirana, and sees Helena Bonham Carter’s Iracebeth endanger Underland by interacting with herself.
SBC and HBC provide the lion’s share of the entertainment. Johnny Depp is muted in comparison, his Hatter spending most of the story in a despondent funk reminiscent of that Australian apology video. Perhaps that’s to be expected from a subplot that reduces his demented force of nature to a sadsack with daddy issues, the result of having his taste in millinery pilloried by a disapproving father (Rhys Ifans) who perished in a Jabberwock-ignited conflagration.
Or did he? That’s the mystery Bobin tries to keep us interested in over a hectic 108 minutes. The result is an always diverting fantasy that rarely stays still long enough for the viewer to pick holes. There is a hole, though – the one Burton left when he traded the director’s chair for a producing role. Neil Smith
Though there’s no character of Time in Carroll’s books, during the tea party the Hatter does talk about quarrelling with him.
Perhaps something on page 96 has caught her eye.