Sequel lacks fresh Wonder
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