An Awkward Bedtime Story- Alice Through the Looking Glass movie review

“I will restore order to the Universe.”

Walking out of the movie theatre yesterday, the only line I seemed to remember from Alice  is this so-heroic-that-it’s-funny line by Alice.  My friends and I had a good laugh over this poorly-worded line, which appears even somewhat teenage-angsty if taken out of context.

And yet, even if we put James Bobin’s Alice Through the Looking Glass back into its context of the Lewis Carroll style fantasy,  seeming nonsense and folly, the much-anticipated sequel is still an awkward bedtime story that kind of dangles between the realms of kid movies and adult movies.

Alice Through the Looking Glass is the sequel to the 2010 movie Alice in Wonderland. The story deals with Alice, now a brave young sea-captain, returning to Underland to save Hatter. Hatter is heartbroken over the fact that his family may not have been killed by the Jabberwocky, and is alive somewhere he doesn’t know. So Alice travels back in time to find Hatter’s family, meanwhile gathering strength and wisdom to deal with her own loss of her father. I guess you could say the theme was love and companionship- Alice and her parents, Hatter and his family, and Alice and all of her Underland friends.

Of course, the movie does have its highlights that make the audience think like Alice,- “curiouser and curiouser”.

The only new element introduced into the storyline is the concept of “Time”. Or, I mean, the character “Time”. Sacha Baron Cohen perfectly handled the role, with an accent that seems to be the mixture of all European accents. Time is personable, understandably insolent (well, he controls time, life and death, so…), and brave when needed (aka when the world is about to end). One of my favourite inventions is the hall with pocket watches hanging from the ceiling, symbolizing the lifetime of everyone. The thought that your life is ticking away with everyone else’s is just horrendous and beautiful at the same time, but the funny persona of Time makes it easy to watch.

As well, I love how this movie is a tribute to Alan Rickman, the voice of our beloved caterpillar/butterfly Absolem. “You’ve been gone too long, Alice. And do mind your step.”

However, I can’t believe I am about to sit and rant about the unsatisfying aspects of this movie.

First of all, it was, of course, great to see Alice being a boss, stepping up to the plate and challenging conventional standards. She has become a sea-captain with enough sass to move her mom. When asked to help Hatter, she agreed without any hesitation. However, for some reason I prefer the previous simple, brave yet imperfect Alice more. The Alice in both movies believe in achieving the impossible, but in Through the Looking Glass, Alice is too pragmatic to match the Underland world. She no longer gasps in awe when she sees a stunning garden or a daunting castle. Her new “pure heroin” persona doesn’t match Carroll’s concept of “We are but older children”. She is no longer distracted by anything, and thus, I think, will never return to the wonders of Underland again.

Besides, there was not enough reference from the book. Except for Alice travelling literally “through the looking glass”, the sequel was clinging more onto the previous movie than to the books. That’s why we could sense its nervous need to give an explanation for what happened in its predecessor, and that’s where the awkwardness comes from.

The special effects were stunning, but compared to the Gothic yet bright beauty of the previous Tim Burton movie, everything looked a bit too typical for a Lewis Carroll inspired story.

And now this is just me being a teenage girl: I HATE HOW HATTER GOT FRIEND-ZONED!! Both by Alice and by the screenplay. Hatter and Alice’s “friendship” kept revolving around the words “You trust me” “I trust you”, yet despite how much I ship them, both of them seemed very at peace saying goodbye.

They didn’t even use the word FAIRFARREN!

Don’t get me wrong. I am a huge Alice fan. I love everything Alice-related. The star-studded cast does Lewis Carroll’s classics justice, and I am so glad the 21-century technology can help people see an actual Underland. But like how Alice only demonstrated her feminist courage by taking on physical challenges, the poetry of the whole movie is a bit too physical and shallow. Oops, Alice got stuck halfway through the looking glass!

If you want to watch the trailer:


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