Disney's Alice Through the Looking Glass is a forgettable sequel with little of the original's charm. The time traversing plot is poorly written with a jumble of tedious new characters. The film drags like a rake through the sand. Even with the onslaught of candy-colored visual effects, it strained to keep my attention.
The story picks up with Alice (Mia Wasikowska) as a ship's captain returning to London after a year at sea. She's shocked to learn a rejected suitor (Leo Bill) has the rights to her father's ship. Dejected at a highbrow party to win his favor, she's lured through the looking glass by a butterfly. Alice's reunion with her friends in Underland is soured by the illness of the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp). Alice embarks on a quest through time to save the Hatter, while Time himself (Sacha Baron Cohen) chases her.
The biggest flaw in Alice Through the Looking Glass is the script by Linda Woolverton. The general idea isn't terrible, but the plot details are hideously boring. It seems to me that the producers had an idea for several big special effects scenes, and then tailored the script to include them. The result is a yawn-inducing hodgepodge of spectacle.
The direction by James Bobin (Muppets Most Wanted) is lacking. The technical aspects of the film were going to be good regardless. The first Alice is a sequel to a monstrous hit, so they had money in the budget for every bell and whistle. The problem here is that the wonder and intrigue of the first film is nonexistent. All of the characters have returned, but their interplay isn't nearly as interesting. Chalk that up to a bad script and direction.
Helena Bonham Carter is the lone bright spot as Iracebeth, The Queen of Hearts. The film explains how she got her giant head. The backstory is not creative in the least, but Carter's petulance and bitterness works. She's like a toddler that has become all powerful and wants to get back at everyone who didn't fulfill her every whim. Alice Through the Looking Glass would be dead in the water without her performance.
I didn't have any expectations for this latest Disney movie, but at least thought it would be somewhat entertaining. Sadly, I don't even think I mustered a minor chuckle. That's a bummer. Johnny Depp and the ensemble cast just didn't get it done. The youngest of children and partakers of hallucinogens may be the only recommended audience. We'll have to wait and see how it fares this weekend at the box office.