A boisterous turn from Helena Bonham Carter as the pugnacious Red Queen saves this Alice sequel from flatlining utterly. Using only the title and some characters from Lewis Carroll’s own 1871 sequel – in fact called Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There – this new movie is just machine-tooled CGI fantasy fare.
We start in the real world, where Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is a daring sea captain who is threatened with betrayal by the corporate landlubbers who own her ship. So she escapes through a mirror in the proprietor’s mansion and finds herself slap bang in Wonderland again.
Johnny Depp’s tiresome Mad Hatter is brought back for a starring role: Alice must reunite and reconcile him with his family. His hat-making dad is played by Rhys Ifans, and the Mad Hatter’s own name is sanitised, as his “madness” is the adorable craziness of creativity, as opposed to the mercury poisoning from fumes in the hat-making process, which in Carroll’s day famously undermined the sanity of British milliners. There’s a bit of sub-Wicked origin myth-making for the relationship of the Red Queen and the White Queen (Anne Hathaway). Sacha Baron Cohen plays a new character called Time, with a guttural Werner Herzog accent. I’d pay about 10/6 for this in today’s money.
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