Released in 2010, Tim Burton’s descent down the rabbit hole of Alice In Wonderland was a triumph of eye-popping style and weirdness over substance.
Audiences didn’t care about flimsy narrative and his quixotic journey of self-discovery became the second highest grossing film that year behind Toy Story 3, with box office takings in excess of one billion US dollars.
Curiouser and curiouser...
That’s more than one billion compelling reasons for a sequel and, lo and behold, James Bobin replaces Burton at the helm for the madcap time-travelling adventure, Alice Through The Looking Glass.
Screenwriter Linda Woolverton, who adapted the first film, largely abandons Lewis Carroll’s 1871 novel, introducing an eccentric new character - Time - in order to facilitate some trippy excursions through the past and present and reveal how the decapitation-happy Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) came to be cursed with an oversized noggin.
Like its predecessor, the sequel spares no expense with the visuals, inducing eye strain, motion sickness and perhaps even the odd headache in 3D and Imax.
The paucity of characterisation is even more pronounced in this second helping, tethering much of the nonsense to Johnny Depp’s wide-eyed theatrics as the Mad Hatter.
Alice (Mia Wasikowska) has successfully buckled her swash as captain of her father’s ship, The Wonder, but when she returns to dry land, the plucky heroine learns that her mother (Lindsay Duncan) has sold the deed to her embittered former suitor, Hamish Ascot (Leo Bill).
Defiant in the face of adversity, Alice takes a tumble through a mirror and plummets into Wonderland where she reunites with the White Queen (Anne Hathaway), Tweedledee and Tweedledum (Matt Lucas), Absolem the Caterpillar (voiced by Alan Rickman), The Dormouse (Barbara Windsor) and the White Rabbit (Michael Sheen).
They reveal that the Mad Hatter (Depp) is in an emotional funk because he’s convinced that his family, including his milliner father Zanik (Rhys Ifans), did not perish in the Jabberwocky’s inferno.
To set the Hatter’s mind at rest, Alice agrees to steal a device called the Chronosphere from its guardian, Time (Sacha Baron Cohen).
“Do try not to break the past, present or future,” advises The Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry) as Alice slides back and forth through time to learn the startling truth.
Alice Through The Looking Glass is a topsy-turvy jaunt too far for Lewis Carroll’s iconic characters.
Wasikowska reprises her role as the spirited adventurer who believes that “the only way to achieve the impossible, is to believe it is possible”.
Depp, Cohen and Bonham Carter compete to see who can scene-steal with the greatest abandon.
Bobin’s film feels considerably longer than 113 minutes.
If only the Chronosphere was real and we could fast forward through the sentimental goo of the final section.