Ignore the haters who’ve piled criticism upon criticism on this film; if you love visual spectacle, quirky storylines, gorgeous costumes, and aren’t averse to a little girl power, Alice Through the Looking Glass is a brilliant way to spend a couple of hours.
Now a seafaring captain, Alice (Mia Wasikowska) returns accidentally to Wonderland when she follows a blue butterfly through a mirror. She is greeted by all her old friends bar one - the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) who, she is told, has gone even madder, refusing to see anyone. He agrees to see Alice, though, and tells her that his family, who everyone knows to have been killed, is alive. As much as she wants not to doubt him, Alice cannot believe what is impossible.
The White Queen tells Alice the only way to get the hatter back to normal is to steal the chronosphere, a device that controls time, and go back in time to prevent his family perishing.
But to get the device, Alice must beg, borrow or steal it from Time himself (Sacha Baron Cohen) – who also happens to be the love interest of Alice’s foe, the Red Queen.
What follows is a race against time (and Time), a series of attempts to stop events which lead to unfortunate ends, and the lesson that you can’t change the past, but you can certainly learn from it.
While Alice and Hatter are far and away the main characters (other key characters such as Absolem and the Cheshire cat are reduced to virtual cameos), there’s an interesting sub plot concerning the Red and White Queens, and some flashbacks that offer possible explanations for some of Lewis Carroll’s more bewildering characters and occurrences.
There isn’t enough of many of the characters, sadly. It would’ve been wonderful to hear more in particular of Alan Rickman’s voice as the butterfly. Baron Cohen lays on his bizarre, but irresistible layers of high camp and genuine weirdness as he chases Alice to the past. Wasikowska is charming as the independent, curious, grown-up Alice that Carroll might have imagined, looking at some of the creations of director James Bobin (paying creative homage to Alice in Wonderland director Tim Burton’s creativity) with as much wonder as those of us in the audience do.