Colorful, Adventurous, but Poorly Written | Review of ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’

By Cynthia Ayala

Alice Through the Looking Glass starring Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska, Helena Bonham Carter & Anne Hathaway
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Image Credit: IMDB

Alice returns to the whimsical world of Wonderland and travels back in time to help the Mad Hatter.


Another vibrant whimsical film following Alice (Mia Wasikowska) through Wonderland and Time in order to save her best friend, The Mad Hatter. Why? Because he Mad Hatter has gone Mad, and not in a good way…or so everyone thinks. This leads Alice through an adventure of time travel, but Time (Sacha Baron Cohen) warned her that she cannot change the past, only learn from it.

There is a lesson to be learned from that about moving on from the past. For Alice she has spent the past three years on her father’s boat, exploring the oceans and distant British colonies. While she’s been gone, things have changed. Her mother had to sell the boat or the house as money was getting tight, but to Alice, it’s not just a boat, it’s her father’s boat, and that is very important to her. Alice, much like everyone else in the film is holding onto the past. The Mad Hatter is lost in it, Iracebeth’s (Helena Bonham Carter) entire being is locked in the anger of the past, by a lie her sister, Mirana (Anne Hathaway), told. All the characters are locked in the past, unable to let go of it. This is why the Hatter. But that’s the lesson the film is trying to get at; that the past happened, it can’t be changed, but we can learn from it and move on. This is a lesson the characters learn the hard way.

Now while Alice Through the Looking Glass is a colorful adventure that provides a lot of backstory to the characters giving the viewer an even deeper look into who they are, the plot device used to launch the film was poorly constructed. Having to travel through time to save the Mad Hatter rather than listening to him doesn’t offer a lot to the viewer. Considering how Alice’s sense of adventure outweighs her sense, turns her into the villain of her own story, because yes, Alice becomes the villain. Time warns her of all the dangers and he ignored all of those warnings trying to do something, with destructive consequences. All Hatter needed was a good friend to listen to him and help him, not tell him that in the world of Wonderland, something was impossible.

Hatter’s need to reunite with his family was not a strong enough catalyst to launch the film, it simply wasn’t. While the film offered a colorful and thoughtful idea, it lacked a cohesive substance with which to bring the film alive and make is successful. Alice should have always been the hero, not the villain of her own story, and Linda Woolverton should have kept that in mind here because while the acting was wonderful, even a great ensemble cannot save a floppy story.

I will say this though, the movie does capture the lesson about letting go of the haunting past and moving on from it in a meaningful and excellent way, making the film somewhat redeemable. (★★☆☆ | C+)

—Film Credits—

Directed by James Bodin

Screenplay by Linda Woolverton

Based on Alice Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

Starring: Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Sacha Baron Cohen, Rhys Ifans, Matt Lucas, Lindsay Duncan, Leo Bill, Geraldine James, Richard Armitage, Ed Speleers, Alan Rickman & Timothy Spall

Rating | Length | Genre: PG | 1 hr 53 min | Adventure, Family, Fantasy

Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

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