"Everyone parts with everything eventually, my dear."
Just a few hours after finally watching 2010's Alice in Wonderland, I went with the fam to see Alice Through the Looking Glass at the theater in my tiny little town. As a parent, I go to pretty much every family-friendly film that comes through, since it's a chance to go see a movie and eat cheap popcorn without getting a sitter.
I hadn't read reviews before seeing Alice 2: All Heads are Off, but I had heard that it was basically an assault against humanity and/or cynical cash grab. I'd say that assessment is about a quarter correct, as the movie isn't really bad, but certainly exists to make money. But hey, it's a Disney film, not an art house flick made on a shoestring budget. Plenty of good movies were made in order to turn a profit.
Lets get it out of the way: Alice II: Curiouser-er is pretty good at times. If you're sitting in a theater to watch it by choice, you already know you're in for a ton of special effects, and they're well done. Sure, you'll get a bit of an overload effect after watching computer-generated backgrounds, characters and foreheads for two hours straight, but the sea of time sequences and end sequence are still pretty awe-inspiring.
Sea of time? That's right. Like any sequel that was made when ideas were running a bit short, this one features time travel. Basically, the Mad Hatter is in trouble and Alice quickly realizes that the only way to fix it all is to not only go back to Wonderland, but to travel through time once she's there. Oh, and because it's a Tim Burton production, Time is an actual person, played by Sacha Baron Cohen, who kind of acts as if he's doing a half-assed impression of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
|"I'm as cold as ice. Or should I say Al-ice?"|
Yes, it's only a Tim Burton production this time around, as James Bobin handles the directing duties. Don't be worried, though, he basically directs as if he's been tasked with doing a Tim Burton impression, which he pretty much has. Bobin does a passable enough Burton pastiche, especially since many elements of the film were already established by Burton's Alice six years ago.
Really, everything about this is kind of similar to the last, only a notch or two to the left on the meh-meter. The acting is fine, but Depp seems to have cranked up the lisp and turned down the charisma as the Mad Hatter. Helena Bonham Carter is excellent as the Red Queen again, as this time she's been afforded the chance to add a few extra dimensions to the character through her (admittedly silly) backstory.
The framed narrative is even worse this time than the last, as we're dragged into this whole mess because Alice's mother inexplicably decides to sell all of her shit while she's away being chased by pirates on the open sea. Why would you do that, you ask? To move the plot forward, of course! The resolution at the end is just as forced and nonsensical.
|Pictured: How Johnny Depp actually dresses when not playing a strange character.|
"I fear I may never see you again," confesses Alice to the Mad Hatter late in the movie.
"Well, we've only made $63 million in the US so far, so you may be right," Alice should have responded. "But I'll see you in 15 years for the reboot!"
Don't be afraid to see this movie if you liked the first. It's good enough, even if it lacks a lot of the charm of the first. If you hated 2010's Alice, Alice 2: Electric Boogaloo won't change your mind.