Review - Matt Mungle
*In theaters May 27th*
Synopsis: Alice returns to the whimsical world of Wonderland and travels back in time to save the Mad Hatter.
Time has past though and we find Alice (Mia Wasikowska) captaining her own sea vessel and carrying on the family business. Back on land things are a bit more turbulent. She is in danger of being overran by the male dominated board of directors headed up by her ex-fiance Hamish Ascot (Leo Bill). It takes the visit of an old friend and the dire situation of an even dearer friend to pull her through the looking glass and into the world that needs her most.
This tale is mainly about The Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) but runs parallel with the relationship between Iracebeth The Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) and her sister Mirana The White Queen (Anne Hathaway). This is perfect since these characters are the strongest and most vibrant on screen. The more we get of them the better. The use of time travel and the need to redo the past allows us to get an origin story of why and how things ended up as they did.
James Bobin replaced Tim Burton as director and that could have been disastrous. Not to slight Bobin but Burton has the ability to capture the whimsical like no other. James might have channeled his inner Tim though because this feels every bit as magical as the first. No doubt having Burton on board as Producer helped immensely. Linda Woolverton returned to write the screenplay which helps add to the continuity of the characters. They are all back in this one including the addition of Time (Sacha Baron Cohen) who fits very well into the landscape.
To see this film in 3-D IMAX is to experience every nuance of color and sound. No other movie uses bright styles and exploding graphics like the Alice franchise. There is so much to take in that the mind can barely grab it all. Danny Elfman's musical score carries you through each scene on a roller coaster of swells.
Alas it is not a perfect film and does have its share of plot holes and dead end sentences. It is hard to write time travel stories and have everything button up completely. Some can argue that the ends justify the journey as we get a strong dose of what it means to be family.There is a lot here about trust, forgiveness, and the power of words. Those messages are not preachy or heavy handed but organically transpire within each character.
Alice Through the Looking Glass is rated PG for fantasy action/peril and some language. Another smart move to make this totally family friendly. That will allow another option for parents looking to take their younger tots to something fun and huge without all the super hero carnage. It is safe for those 8 and older with lots to offer the older adults as well. I give it 3.75 out of 5 tick tocks. There is always the fear of the sequel curse but this one proves you can make a follow up film that is just as fabulous as the first.