Se­quel lacks fresh Won­der

Rutherglen Reformer - - The Ticket -

When it was an­nounced Tim Bur­ton was helm­ing a new big screen take on Lewis Car­roll’s clas­sic fairy­tale I, like many oth­ers, was ex­cited.

Af­ter all, the kooky di­rec­tor and his love of all things strange seemed like a won­der­ful fit for a re­turn trip down the rab­bit hole to Won­der­land.

Alas, although the 2010 block­buster cleaned up at the box of­fice, Bur­ton’s ad­ven­ture was lack­ing in magic and over­stuffed with char­ac­ters and hit-and-miss CGI.

Bur­ton takes a back seat in a pro­duc­ing role for the se­quel, hand­ing the cam­era over to Hamp­shire-born James Bobin, who did such a grand job of res­ur­rect­ing the Mup­pets’ movie ca­reers.

Add in a script by Linda Woolver­ton who, as well as co-writ­ing the first Alice flick has screen­play cred­its on Dis­ney hits Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King, and it ap­peared as though t his was a fol­low-up on sound foot­ing.

Based on Car­roll’s novel, the story sees Alice (Mia Wasikowska) re­turn to the mag­i­cal world of Un­der­land, where she must travel through time to save old friend the Mad Hat­ter ( Johnny Depp) from the clutches of the evil Time (Sacha Baron Co­hen).

A fresh tale it may be, but Through the Look­ing Glass is ham­pered by the same is­sues that dragged down its pre­de­ces­sor – although it’s an over­all more en­joy­able watch.

The open­ing ma­jes­tic, swoop­ing sea- based set piece is a real high­light and sets ex­pec­ta­tions high right from the off.

Wasikowska re­mains a plucky, like­able hero­ine too and the ad­di­tion of Co­hen – risky as the Lon­doner’s movie CV has more highs and lows than your av­er­age roller­coaster – proves to be a mas­ter­stroke.

Sport­ing an over­long han­dle­bar mous­tache and deep Ger­man ac­cent, his emo­tion­ally chaotic Time is the co­me­dian’s finest cre­ation since Bo­rat.

He­lena Bon­ham Carter’s (Irace­beth) scen­estealer from the first film re­turns and makes an­other fine im­pres­sion and Anne Hath­away (Mi­rana) con­tin­ues to spook­ily saunter about like she’s still in a Tim Bur­ton gothic fairy­tale.

But in­vest­ment in the emo­tion and beat-the­clock ur­gency of the cen­tral sto­ry­line is nearly com­pletely lost by the deeply grat­ing turn from Depp.

His bizarre, partly Scot­tish-sound­ing Mad Hat­ter was one of the orig­i­nal’s weak­est links and the char­ac­ter is even more an­noy­ing this time around as his screen time in­creases ten­fold.

Bobin also doesn’t learn from the suc­cess of his Mup­pets prac­ti­cal ef­fects by bom­bard­ing the viewer with an over­load of com­puter-based vi­su­als.

Some – like Time’s cas­tle – are a joy to be­hold, but most make for an as­sault on the eyes and too of­ten turn our hero­ine and her bud­dies into fake look­ing video game char­ac­ters.

Also lack­ing an emo­tional core, Through the Look­ing Glass is a fun but in­stantly for­get­table re­turn to Won­der­land.

Alice Through the Look­ing Glass (PG)

Con­cern Wasikowska and Depp face up to some trou­bled times

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