RV: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass are not considered classics stories because of the Mad Hatter or Johnny Depp or some big special effect dramatic plot for that matter. Much like all other classic satires (See: Gulliver’s Travels, Hitchhiker’s Guide, Candid, etc.) or classic children stories (See: Phantom Tollbooth, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, etc.), Carroll’s classics are charming for the clever messages delivered in clever scenarios. Gulliver had his Lilliput, Arthur had his Infinite Improbability Drive, and Alice had her Queen of Hearts. In those classics, our protagonists must make sense out of the chaotic worlds that they had stumbled into. This is one of the truest metaphors about life because who hasn’t felt like Alice when they are at work surrounded by people and situations that contradict, frustrate, and in the end don’t make a lick of sense. With that being said, the movie adaptation shares only one thing with Carroll’s novels…the title. Wait, some of you might say that the characters are the same, but I would simply respond that they are not. By trying to flesh out the madness, Burton and company have undone the very metaphor that is supposed to drive the story along. This isn’t Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones. Some worlds don’t need to be fleshed out and explained because much like all Lost fans who have tried to rematch the series, mystery and the wonderment of adventure are treasures that you can’t get back. I just hope that Hollywood leaves Phantom Tollbooth alone because at this point even the BFG is done for.
T: It’s hard for me to write about this one because I love Alice in Wonderland, Johnny Depp, and Tim Burton (as do most semi-angsty girls who grew up in the ’90s), but the movie is simply okay. Admittedly, I struggled to make it through the remake of Alice in Wonderland back in 2010; I found myself bored and completely disconnected from the plot – and this is coming from the girl who has obsessed over everything *Alice (The Cheshire Cat is boss!). But when its sequel came out, and a family night emerged one Saturday night, I decided to venture out to the theatre to give this franchise another chance. And although I made it through this one more easily, I still struggled with its over-wrought, trite, and (in certain scenes) unnecessarily weird plot-devices.
First and foremost, as RV pointed out above, this is in no way a true telling of Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass and if you’re looking for a true adaption, turn away and run NOW. But if you like absurdism and flashy cinematography and Victorian-Gothic panache, then you’ll probably like this film.
With all its faults, there are three things I really did enjoy about this film: 1. Mia Wasikowska – she really is a phenomenal actress who somehow manages to pull off a nice blend of kick-assery and grace that has only been found in a handful of actress (seriously, check out the 2011 adaptation of Jane Eyre and you’ll see what I mean); 2. The not-so-subtle attack on sexism and the lead-protagonist defying all expectations of 19th c. England (or arguably 21st c. United States) #feminism; 3. The all-too-overdone but still equally important theme(s) of lost time, borrowed time, and appropriately used time – sure it’s cheesy and unoriginal, but still a valuable lesson for all to learn, right?
Am I glad I watched it? Meh. Would I watch it again? Nah.
1.5 Redvines – Alice and the Remake Factory.
2 Twizzlers – Wacky and weird in all the wrong ways
*Insert Twizzler’s love for Cheshire Cat: “We’re all mad here”