HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Alice: Through the Looking Glass
HTS Overall Score:85
Disney has been killing it lately with their live action adaptations of animated classic Disney vault films. “Oz” wasn’t exactly the greatest of the bunch, but “Cinderella”, “Jungle Book” and the rest have been doing QUITE well with fans and critics alike. However, the film that started it all has been known as the black sheep of the live action Disney world. “Alice in Wonderland”. It was a bizarre little film that DOES come from a bizarre book, but it didn’t seem to grab ahold of fans and has been oft referred to as “that” film in my household. I was morbidly curious to see what “Alice: Through the Looking Glass” would be, but interestingly enough I actually liked it MORE than the original. Mainly due to the fact that it prescribes to a more generic female hero story rather than try to make it as strange and ludicrous as the 2010 “Alice” was. Which may be due in part to having Tim Burton out of the director’s chair.
Alice (Mia Wasikowska) has come back to reality after her visit to wonderland and is doing just fine. She has become the captain of her father’s ship and sailing the world over as king….errrrr queen… of the world. Coming back to land she finds out that her benefactor has passed away leaving the shipping company in the sold hands of here jilted lover, Hamish (Leo Bill). Hamish has been winding up for some revenge and has leveraged their family home against Alice in order to get her to sign over the ship to him. However, Wonderland once more calls in her time of peril and Alice is once again sucked back down the rabbit hole (or in this case the looking glass mirror).
On the other side of the mirror Alice finds out that wonderland isn’t exactly as it should be. The Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) has become a little less mad and more sober in recent times. His smile has faded and his charm and joy is just about extinguished. He has become obsessed with the idea that his family is still alive even though they had been declared dead years ago by the Queen of Hearts (Helena Bonham Carter). Desperate to save the Hatter, even if it’s from his own delusion), Alice heads out to Time’s castle (Time being played by Sacha Baron Cohen) and steals a magical device called the chromosphere which will allow her passage back in time to undo what has already been done.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=82561[/img]“Alice: Through the Looking Glass” is a bit tamer and more mild mannered without Burton helming the film. The trademark gothic overtones and warped humor are mostly gone and instead a more traditional tone is given. Albeit mimicking the ludicrous tone of the previous film as much as it can. Sacha Baron Cohen does much to bring that feel to the film with his over the top craziness as Time himself (as only Sacha can do with his absurdist comedic stylings). However this is also the films undoing as well. Time is a bit of a weak main character and it’s hard to classify him as a villain or a hero in the movie. Unfortunately that applies to the Queen of Hearts as well. Gone are the malicious undertones that has made her such a fantastic character to hate and instead we have a childhood squabble plot that paints the Queen of Hearts as just a misunderstood girl who got taken advantage of by her sister, the White Queen (Anne Hathaway).
This translates into the main storyline of the Hatters and the missing family in time, with Alice darting in and out of time trying to remedy the past, only to see what caused the Queen of Hearts go bad in the first place. The two sub plots merge together into one giant girl power adventure story that seems to have lost some of the magic that made Lewis Carroll’s books so great in the first place. Johnny Depp even seems fairly subdued as the Mad Hatter without Burton’s guidance. In fact, EVERYONE seems to be subdued, which actually is almost a relief as the previous “Alice in Wonderland” was a bit TOOO much if you know what I mean.
Rated PG for fantasy action/peril and some language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=82569[/img]Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm, pure demo material. Just like its predecessor, “Alice: Through the Looking Glass” is heaven on a disc from beginning to end. The film just SCREAMS bright colors and those colors are widely varied and splashed heavily throughout the film. The rich reds of the Queen of Hearts. Bright blues on Alice as well as the sundry other colors that are mixed and swirled together in the bizarre creatures that are in the land of Wit’s End. Blacks are deep and inky, and despite heavy amounts of dim lighting the shadows maintain healthy detail and don’t artifact at all. In fact the whole image just screams perfection! Very few times do I give a full 5/5 rating for video quality, but this Blu-ray very much deserves the praise. Fine detail abounds no matter the lighting and every CGI creature or lavishly decorated costume is shown with razor sharp clarity.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=82577[/img]While I am sad that Disney has not jumped on the Atmos bandwagon yet, I have to say that their 7.1 DTS-HD MA tracks that they add on to their movies are top notch. The frenetic nature of the film is replicated perfectly with the rushing of sounds through the time stream, as well as the laughing and maniacal noises paramount to the inclusion of the Mad Hatter and his friends. Dialog is crisp and clean with a solid anchoring in the center channel, while the mains enjoy some fantastic imaging throughout the adventure. The opening scene with Alice commandeering her ship at sea was a sonic delight, filled with some deep cracks of bass and a wonderful use of the surround channels. Which is also used quite heavily throughout the movie (both LFE and surrounds). Definitely a top notch audio track, it is one of the better sounding mixes that I’ve heard for quite some time.
• A Stitch in Time: Costuming Wonderland – Three-time Oscar®-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood (“Alice in Wonderland,” “Memoirs of a Geisha”) explains how costuming helps shape the curious characters of Underland and reveals hidden Easter Eggs within the cast’s ornate outfits.
• Music Video: “Just Like Fire” by P!nk – “Watch this madness, colorful charade” in P!nk’s music video for “Just Like Fire,” the hit song featured in “Alice Through the Looking Glass” that powered to the top 10 on Billboard’s Hot 100.
• Behind the Music Video – Go on set with P!nk for production of her “Just Like Fire” music video, featuring fantastical imagery, aerial stunts, Underland character cameos, and guest appearances by P!nk’s family.
• Behind The Looking Glass – Jump back and forth through time during this in-depth look into the making of “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” hosted by director James Bobin.
• Time On… – Delight in this discussion with the unpredictable and witty Sacha Baron Cohen who plays Time, the keeper of the Chronosphere, a metallic sphere that powers all time.
• Alice Goes Through the Looking Glass: A Scene Peeler – View a side-by-side comparison of raw production footage and final scenes, as Alice enters Underland through a magical looking glass.
• Alice Goes Through Time’s Castle: A Scene Peeler – View raw production footage alongside final scenes, as Alice enters Time’s castle of eternity.
• Characters of Underland – Get to know the quirky and colorful supporting characters in Underland, such as the tubby twins known as the Tweedles (Matt Lucas) and Absolem (Alan Rickman), the blue caterpillar turned blue Monarch butterfly.
• Filmmaker Audio Commentary by James Bobin – Director James Bobin delivers scene-by-scene insight into the creation of “Alice Through the Looking Glass.”
• Deleted Scenes with Director Commentary – Bobin
“Alice: Through the Looking Glass” is a bit different than the 2010 “Alice in Wonderland”, but it really is no better or worse in actuality. Differences between the creative cast makes it a bit softer and less “edgy” (I hate to use that term with Tim Burton” than the predecessor, but it is a reasonably entertaining family friendly live action Disney movie. The disc specs are off the chart, and make for some serious demo material, and Disney put on an impressive array of extras to round out the package. Just like back in 2010, I have to say “worth a rental”.
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter
Directed by: James Bobin
Written by: Linda Woolverton (Screenplay), Lewis Carroll (Books)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 7.1, French, Spanish DD 5.1
Studio: Disney/Buena Vista
Runtime: 112 Minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: October 18th, 2016
Buy Alice: Through the Looking Glass On Blu-ray at Amazon
More about Mike