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Through the Looking Glass’ review: ‘Alice’ sequel fails to recapture the magic

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Alice Through the Looking Glass
Jeffrey M. Anderson

Two and a half stars

Alice Through the Looking Glass Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Sacha Baron Cohen. Directed by James Bobin. Rated PG. Opens Friday citywide.

The new sequel Alice Through the Looking Glass has many of the same good things going for it as its predecessor, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (2010), but also several more bad things. The former include the costumes and set design, computer and makeup effects that distort Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, and their appealingly silly line readings as the Mad Hatter and the deposed Red Queen. Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is also something of an action hero, which puts a small dent into the annual argument that women are not reasonably represented in film. The new movie even adds an amusing Sacha Baron Cohen as Time himself.

But it also lacks Burton at the helm—Muppets director James Bobin has taken over—and where Burton’s recognizable touch rescued the first film, somewhat, from its soulless effects-driven storytelling, Bobin doesn’t possess the same power. Lewis Carroll’s wonder and weirdness have been replaced with sound and fury: As Alice battles roiling oceans, travels through time, storms the red castle and tries to save the space-time continuum—all in an attempt to rescue the Mad Hatter’s family—it becomes apparent that no one actually cares. When, at the end, Alice explains how hard it is to say goodbye to the computer-generated rabbits, dogs, cats and twins of this world, it must be because she barely even said hello.

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