Alice is no longer a child, that’s for sure.
In Through the Looking Glass, the sequel (prequel?) to 2010’s Alice in Wonderland, her usual worries about fitting in and being too dreamy, things kids and teens care about, are long gone, replaced with more adult concerns about what to do for a living, maintaining connections with family and realizing that time is a precious commodity. If it sounds too serious for Wonderland, you’re not entirely wrong.
The movie’s point is made clear through the convoluted plot, which has Alice (Mia Wasikowska) flitting back and forth through time, using Time (personified by Sacha Baron Cohen)’s Chronosphere as transport. She’s trying to go back to rectify several events that took place in the past, all in order to “save” the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp, made-up to the nines), who’s fading away from sadness.
Everybody has family issues in this movie, from the Hatter to Alice to the Red and White Queens. The moral of the story is to treasure what you have while you have it, or else it’ll be robbed from you by Time. (One thing I will give Alice Through the Looking Glass: its “time” puns are A-level.)
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Is the movie appropriate for kids?
Yes and no. In terms of violence and sex, don’t forget this is a Disney film — of course there is nothing that’ll impact your child. There are even Minion-like characters, called Seconds, to help your child gloss over all the lengthy explanations of things. Because the plot is so complicated (but not hard to understand, if that makes sense), it’s likely your child will be distracted during the two-hour runtime.
There are many action sequences with lots of bright colours and flashy effects. The 3D version is (like most other 3D films) more immersive, but not integral to the experience. Your kids will be glued to the screen when Alice is travelling through the ocean of time — yes, it’s quite literally an ocean of time — as it’s the most visually engaging part of the movie. But the scenes of dialogue, when characters are explaining their emotions and using multi-syllable words, are snore city. Tack on the Hatter and Red Queen’s strange, undefinable accents and speech impediments, and you have more confusion.
Any stand-out characters this time around?
Baron Cohen makes his debut as Time in this film, and he’s as mesmerizing as he is in the majority of his other roles. He makes the most of what he’s given, and delivers his one or two punchlines with aplomb. I paid more attention when he was onscreen, loved his costume and appearance, and his not-quite-villain persona made him more endearing. Disney deserves kudos for crafting an almost heavenly abode for Time; it is creative, beautiful and pleasing to the eye.
(If one cares to look into the Time character and story too deeply, this may be the first time Disney has created a “heaven” of its own, sans religion. Time is essentially God in this movie, deciding when people’s time “is up.”)
How about Alice herself?
I’m a fan of Wasikowska (and no, not just because we both have long Polish last names), but I feel on some level she’s outgrown this role. At times, she almost looks bored as she travels from one locale to another. It seems like her job is done, and now she’s just going through the motions. Even the relationships between characters feel strained, almost like old friends from college who don’t really have anything in common anymore.
All of that said, the Alice character is a fantastic one for little girls. From the beginning of the movie, Alice doesn’t even think twice about helming a ship full of large, brusque men, and she single-handedly takes out a fleet of pirate ships. She’s not afraid of anything, really, even when the Hatter et al warn her about the dangers of travelling through time. Fearless Alice is something for girls to aspire to, especially at the end, which I will not reveal here.
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So, what’s the bottom line?
Alice Through the Looking Glass is essentially two hours of colour and time travel. It’s a tad too mature, theme-wise, for the littlest ones, and probably too nail-on-the-head for teens. So if your child falls right in that sweet spot, it’ll be a good one for them. As for adults, try to revel in Baron Cohen, or at the very least, be happy that your little girl or boy can have a hero like Alice.
Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016) | PrettyFamous