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article imageReview: ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ is still an actor’s playground Special

By Sarah Gopaul     May 27, 2016 in Entertainment
‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ is exactly what you’d expect in a sequel to such a fantastic story — an even more fantastic tale with a different gimmick.
When certain fiction properties are already well-known, it can seem limiting to stay too close to the source material when reviving them on the screen. Instead, while remaining as true as possible to the original characters, creators can hope to be forgiven – or even commended – for applying some ingenuity and adding their own angle to a classic narrative. Lewis Carroll’s sequel to Alice in Wonderland wasn’t nearly as adventurous as the cinematic follow-up, having revolved around a unique game of chess; however, filmmakers have opted to spice up Alice Through the Looking Glass with some time travel and a clock that threatens to tick its last tock.
Alice Kingsley (Mia Wasikowska) grew up to captain her father’s ship, “The Wonder.” But when an unscrupulous businessman threatens to take everything from her family, the appearance of Absolem (voice of Alan Rickman) provides a welcome escape to Wonderland. Upon arriving, however, she discovers the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) is very ill and the only way to save him is to rescue his family who died years earlier. Queen Mirana (Anne Hathaway) instructs Alice to visit Time (Sacha Baron Cohen), borrow his time-traveling chronosphere and journey to the past. Although when he’s not willing to lend Alice such a powerful and essential device, the consequences of her actions will spread over the past, present and future.
As with most fantasy movies of this magnitude, there are parts that inevitably work better than others. The best sections of this picture involve the many Wonderland personalities that reprise their roles or are newly introduced. Audiences may recognize the nursery rhymes personified via Humpty Dumpty’s fall or the Queen of Hearts and her fondness for tarts. While still extravagant, the Hatter isn’t generally as outlandish as he was prior to Alice’s leaving; but he still has his moments and his customary tea party companions compensate for any lost amusement. And thankfully the Cheshire Cat (voice of Stephen Fry) is as enjoyable as ever, playfully disappearing and speaking riddles or puns. However, Cohen’s Time steals the show. Delivering a noticeable but inexact impression of Werner Herzog, his performance is absolutely the most entertaining aspect of the narrative. From his romantic involvement with Iracebeth (Helena Bonham Carter) to his hilarious presence at teatime to his relentless pursuit of Alice, Time makes his mark as a new central character. Moreover, as every so-called villain must now have minions, he governs the cutest mechanical helpers evocative of the anthropomorphic servants in Beauty and the Beast.
A scene from  Alice Through the Looking Glass
A scene from 'Alice Through the Looking Glass"
Walt Disney Studios
Inserting a time travel element into the film provides a greater sense of drama and adventure as Alice literally races against the clock to save Hatter. The magical contraption is in some ways reminiscent of the device used in The Time Machine with all its levers and controls. It also makes use of Alice’s seafaring experience as time is constructed like a great ocean. Only Iracebeth’s past provides some insight into why she is always so angry, while the others’ youthful selves are simply precursors to their current personalities. When compared to Alice’s real-world dilemmas and the problems she creates in Wonderland by disobeying Time – a trait she has not outgrown from her adolescence – the older scenes she visits are the more attractive.
In spite of Tim Burton’s absence from the director’s chair, the film remains visually captivating, the actors are still on target and it continues to deliver a series of enjoyable moments sprinkled throughout a reasonably enchanting narrative. The only thing really missing seemed to be Pink’s praiseworthy cover of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit,” which didn’t even play over the strikingly designed credits.
To help fans regain their sense of wonder prior to the film’s release, Disney Studios Canada opened a pop-up on Queen St. in Toronto that transported visitors to Wonderland. Inside was an exquisite recreation of the Mad Hatter’s tea table, accurately adorned with delicious-looking treats; a photo booth that transformed users into the film’s characters; and the opportunity to win a prize pack by posing with Time.
Director: James Bobin
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter
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