Film Reviews


By • May 26th, 2016 •

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Spectacular visuals! No story to follow but costumes and Sacha Baron Cohen are terrific. Only thing to ask is ‘Who played Johnny Depp?’

Let us assume – for just the sake of this review – that you or your children never read Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventure’s in Wonderland and the follow up, Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There.

Should you see James Bobin’s sequel to the 2010 Tim Burton film? Absolutely! If only for the fantastic, inspired, truly awe-dazzling visuals.

Carroll’s original novel could not have been so obtuse or meaningless.

Alice Kingsleigh (Mia Wasikowska) has ditched that awful, sexy nightgown she wore in ALICE IN WONDERLAND. That flimsy, sheer garment was forever threatening to reveal too much. I guess that must have been Burton and his costume designer’s intent. It distracted me.

Here, Alice first appears in a gorgeously-designed ship captain’s uniform. I never wanted an outfit so much! After bringing her men and ship safely home from a dangerous mission and violent storm, she must face her down-and-out mother, Helen (Lindsay Duncan), and the worst suitor London had to offer Hamish (Leo Bill). Alice turned down his marriage proposal and he has never forgiven her.

There are other attractive men in Alice’s social circle but its back to Wonderland for our girl. Seems she caused a scandal by appearing in a Chinese gown she wore to be presented to the Empress. I want one. Right now!

Instead of facing that horrible face of her now-married suitor, Alice is called back to Wonderland. This time through a mirror.

We – Thunder Ayahuasca initiates – have been down the Rabbit Hole and seen the marvels therein.

Hatter Tarrant Hightop (Johnny Depp), or as they call him in Wonderland, The Mad Hatter, is depressed. He has gotten cruelly old and he has refused to engage in mad antics or tea parties.

“Quelle horreur!”

In Victorian times, mercury was used in the making of hats. This was known to have affected the nervous systems of hatters, causing them to tremble and appear insane. Mercury exposure can cause aggressiveness, mood swings, and anti-social behavior. Mercury poisoning is still known today as ‘Mad Hatter’s disease’.

Who else but Johnny Depp – he of the famously weird list of characters – could play The Mad Hatter? Well, looking at his appearance at the London premier opening of the film, I can honestly ask, respectfully, who really played the Hatter? It was a skillful CGI rendering.

That wasn’t actress Lena Headley who, as Cersei Lannister, did the walk of atonement on GAME OF THRONES. It actually was her body double, actress Rebecca Van Cleave, who walked naked through 500 screaming extras.

The Mad Hatter misses his family. It is up to Alice to bring Hatter back from his death bed and find his family.

The screenplay by Linda Woolverton throws out original story but integrates Carroll’s Wonderland characters. There is former caterpillar, now butterfly Absolem (Alan Rickman), the Tweedles (Matt Lucas), Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry), White Rabbit (Michael Sheen), Bayard the bloodhound (Timothy Spall), Dormouse (Barbara Windsor) and March Hare (Paul Whitehouse).

This being a Walt Disney film, there is a lot of female empowerment, regardless of Lewis Carroll.

Mirana, The White Queen (Anne Hathaway) and her sister, Iracebeth, the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) are at odds and warring over a lie Mirana told when they were children. We learn how the Red Queen got her big head and angry deposition. If only Alice could go back in time and heal old festering wounds and reunite Mad Hatter with his family.

Time (Sacha Baron Cohen) is an arch character but does hold the power of…Time. And there is never enough of it, is there? Instead of overplaying Time, Cohen is more reserved and he makes Time a wonderful character. Do we credit this to Cohen or the director?

Alice must retrieve the Chronosphere which is in Time’s domain to turn back the giant clock so the disasters events that happened to Red Queen and The Mad Hatter can be altered.

Hathaway should put aside these fairy tale roles. Enough is enough. Marry royalty if you must, but do it in real life. Helena Bonham Carter is always game for anything but now shows a side of Iracebeth that was missing. Sacha Baron Cohen lost his Hollywood currency with THE BROTHERS GRIMSBY but now he can use ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS for serious roles.

Member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society:

Victoria Alexander lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and answers every email at

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