Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016)
★ / ★★★★
“Alice Through the Looking Glass,” based on the screenplay by Linda Woolverton and directed by James Bobin, is capable of faking everything else except the most important ingredient in a fantasy picture: real emotions. It boats special and visual effects that are nothing short of impressive, but if one were to peer a little closer, it actually offers nothing worth of value—deeply ironic because the story dares to preach about the importance of family.
Most awkward are the scenes involving human interactions. These should have been perfectly calibrated and executed given that the majority of the film is composed of computerized imagery to the degree that is dizzying and vomit-inducing. These ought to have functioned not only as a breath of fresh air but a chance to anchor the story on a human level despite the story taking place in a wonderland. Yet notice the exchanges between Alice (Mia Wasikowska) and Hatter (Johnny Depp)—the two characters who are dead center of the plot involving time travel—so wooden, forced, not at all intriguing or the least bit warm.
One gets the impression that an illusion were created. I questioned whether the actors were ever in the same room together, let alone have gotten a chance to see each other face-to-face. This is because is a constant disconnect between not only the words uttered but the overall emotions they attempt to convey. Although Hatter is supposed to be mad and Alice is a cheery figure by default, the script fails to underline enough commonalities between the characters. When interacting with someone in person, there is a baseline when it comes to the level of engagement. Here, there appears to be nothing at all.
Despite the pavonine special and visual effects, from the animated characters to Alice’s travels through time, they suffer from diminishing returns. This is due to the fact the material fails to engage the audience in an active manner, it seems too content to give the viewers eye candy and nothing else. It goes to show that you can have the most expensive, most dazzling effects in the world but if there is little to no meaning or heft that propel them, then what’s the point? Over time, I found the images so unrealistic—even for an adventure-fantasy film—that they end up merely serving as decorations.
Notice how I have not delved into the plot. This is because the plot is completely immaterial. The filmmakers did not concern themselves with plot or story because what they wished to make was a not a product that entertained or one that they wanted to be proud of. This is merely a fashion show of greed and ego, serving to cash in on its predecessor. And it shows.