With a cast of talentless clowns and cheap visual effects, James Bobin has outdone even Tim Burton in insulting the memory of Lewis Carroll.
Not only would Lewis Carroll turn in his grave he saw this film (or even its poster), he would claw his way through the dirt and travel to Disney’s Hollywood offices to personally murder those responsible for this horrific take on his surreal masterpiece. Alice Through The Looking Glass, a (believe-it-or-not) inferior sequel to Tim Burton’s terrible 2010 Alice in Wonderland, is one of the most heartlessly cynical films the studio has ever produced, a family film-by-committee with little-to-no humanity, energy or fun. Even Burton, one of the most overrated filmmakers of our time, would have injected a small amount of visual edge into this project, but inexperienced Muppets veteran James Bobin (who has proven himself a master of medium-budget comedies, but whose talents are not used here) has nothing to offer.
Mia Wasikowska, back by contractual demand, is caught at the centre of the unappealing CGI mayhem that is Disney’s version of Carroll’s world. She tries her best, she really does, but with a script that features such laughably unsubtle lines as “You are going to have to travel back in time”, what can she do? The only other standout is a small, German robot reminiscent of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang‘s Toymaker. Bobin clearly knows how to direct non-human comedy characters much better than actual people. If only this robot was the star of the film…
It may relieve some readers to know that Johnny Depp’s screentime is significantly reduced from the first entry, yet even one minute spent watching his hideous gurning; hearing his- frankly, offensive- lisping is enough to drive anyone insane. With the financial failure of this film, coupled with accusations of domestic violence, Depp’s career has seemingly hit a final full stop, and we can only hope next year’s Pirates 5 is his final blockbuster ever. This is a man who hasn’t turned in a good performance in well over a decade, who genuinely cannot act, who would be better suited to a local town hall pantomime. His take on the Mad Hatter is an insult to the complexities and nuance of Carroll’s creation, and he should be deeply ashamed.
There’s an equal lack of complements to be awarded to Helena Bonham Carter- Depp’s female counterpart in insufferable mugging- as the Red Queen. Anne Hathaway collects a paycheck with a brief cameo, and only the voice of the late Alan Rickman- in his final performance- is of any quality amongst the horrid supporting cast. As the human embodiment of Time, Sacha Baron Cohen is seemingly aiming to outdo Depp and Bonham Carter for awfulness, and an extended two-hander between the Hatter and Time may take home the prize for 2016’s Most Irritating Movie Conversation.
If one seeks distraction from this cast of clowns, the surrounding digitally-created environment will not provide much relief. The CGI and greenscreen work is of a quality expected of late-1980s sci-fi adventures rather than a new film from the studio who created this year’s marvellous Jungle Book. That is a film Rudyard Kipling would likely marvel at; Looking Glass would make Lewis Carroll reach for the nearest ornate teacup to vomit in.