With its emphasis on trippy visuals and strange creatures (a grinning cat that can turn invisible, a blue caterpillar that smokes a hookah, a "Jabberwocky"), Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland
lends itself to the world of cinema.
Today’s 3-D technology certainly aids in creating that bizarre alternate universe that Carroll imagined for Alice Kingsleigh.
Despite being a visual treat, Alice Through the Looking Glass,
the sequel to 2010’s equally exotic Alice in Wonderland
, struggles to present a compelling storyline. The movie opens areawide today.
At the film’s start, the quick-thinking Alice (Mia Wasikowska) navigates her way through treacherous waters to escape a trio of pirate ships hot on her tail. Safely back in London after traveling the world, she finds that her mother has offered to sell her father’s ship. Disappointed, she disappears through a magic looking glass and returns to Wonderland.
Predictably enough, she finds all isn’t well there either.
Turns out, the Hatter (Johnny Depp) has fallen into a funk because he thinks his long-lost family might still be alive. But because things between him and them ended on bad terms before they allegedly perished in a fire, he feels trapped by the past. He becomes despondent and slips into a coma.
Alice offers to help him. She visits Time (Sacha Baron Cohen sporting some badass mutton chops) and, with the help of a time travel device, finds a way to go back into the past. She aims to save his family members from their deaths and set things right. But she quickly learns that you can’t change the past — and if you see yourself in the past, all hell breaks loose and the world comes to an end, so there's that.
Of course, no Alice in Wonderland
story would be complete without an encounter with the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter), Alice’s archrival and nemesis. She, also, heads back into the past to try to change things but takes a far more reckless approach than Alice.
The film also delves into the sibling rivalry that exists between the Red Queen and her sister, the White Queen (Anne Hathaway). Yes, we get it. Family is important. And so is believing in yourself. “Nothing is impossible,” says the strong-willed Alice at the film’s start, telegraphing the theme that emerges again and again in the movie.
Fabulous costumes and terrific 3- D effects can’t keep this movie from seeming inconsequential — the half-baked plot certainly doesn’t help either. At this point, maybe it's best to leave Carroll's fantastic story alone.