I have recently just finished reading Alice Through The Looking Glass, just in time to see the release of the new Alice Through The Looking Glass film. However, I’m afraid I cannot really do an Alice Through The Looking Glass review as the film I saw was not Alice Through The Looking Glass. Allow me to explain.
Though named after the second of Lewis Carroll’s Alice books, the plot of the film has almost nothing in common with the book, save for the looking glass itself and a few references to chess pieces and Humpty Dumpty. Whereas the book was about Alice finding her way through Looking-Glass Land – meeting lots of characters along the way and becoming a queen at the end – the film is about her travelling through time to find and save the Mad Hatter’s family.
The film opens with Alice captaining on her father’s ship on a voyage from China. When she gets home, her business partners try to force her to sell the ship in order to keep her house. Much like the ‘real world’ segments in Alice in Wonderland (2010), this is created purely for the film, which is understandable. Audiences these days would not appreciate the nonsensical story from the book, as there is very little in the way of plot – more being a series of meetings sewn together – so they have to add in a story to make it watchable.
Alice then hides in a room and goes through the looking glass into Looking-Glass Land (although it’s still referred to as Underland) where she encounters living chess pieces and the egg-shaped Humpty Dumpty. These characters were played a much bigger role in the book, but they were well realised here and lulled me into a false sense of hope for them sticking to the original story. However, this was short lived as Alice soon meets up with all the main characters from the previous film to discover that Mad Hatter is dying and needs her to find his family to save him. To do this, she must acquire time travel from Time (played by Sacha Baron Cohen). This is where the story becomes about time travel, as she goes back in time to prevent certain things happening in order to prevent his family from dying.
It is not just the story that is completely different from the books though, as the characters now all have names. Mad Hatter is Tarrant Hightopp, the caterpillar is Absolem, the White Queen is Mirana, the Red Queen is Iracebeth, the White Rabbit is Nivens McTwisp and the Dormouse is Mallymkun. Again, it is understandable that they would want to give the characters names to make them more relatable – and I guess calling each other ‘Dormouse’ or ‘White Rabbit’ would sound rather silly – but it does seem to spoil it a little, as these once mysterious and unfamiliar characters now have names and backstories.
In the original books – I am aware that I keep referring to the books, but I do love the so and they are classics, so it is hard not to – the Hatter was no more prominent than any of the other characters, but he is the obvious choice for a lead character. In the films, he now has a name, a family, a tragic backstory and an emotional bond with Alice. Again, this is designed to appeal to modern audiences and I guess it works. So let’s look at some of the characters.
Mia Wasikowska makes a good Alice, with a good blend of curious wonder and hard-headedness that is so endearing in the iconic character. I’m not a big Johnny Depp fan and I find with this character he makes him too ‘human’ and emotional, with a sort of camp lisp and very little of the craziness that defines the character. Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen as the Red Queen and Time, respectively, are just the right amount of crazy for their characters, although both are a bit annoying and too ‘human’ at times.
Overall, I think there’s two ways to look at this film. If you’re looking for a modern adaptation of the book that stays true to the story and characters, you will be sorely disappointed. If, however, you see it as a standalone film, then it is an interesting story that will entertain and inspire you. So, my score for Alice Through The Looking Glass would be 0.5/5, but my score for Alice’s Adventures Through Time would be more like 3/5. I really think they shouldn’t have used the name they did for this film, as not only is it misleading, but if they ever want to do an adaptation of the actual story Alice Through The Looking Glass then it will be confusing.
Our rating: (2 / 5)