Sunday, October 16, 2016

Video review: "Alice Through the Looking Glass"

I guess I’m just Mr. Contrarian. I despised 2010’s “Alice in Wonderland,” starring Johnny Depp as a decidedly off-kilter Mad Hatter. But the sequel is a charming romp that uses Lewis Carroll’s second novel as a mere jumping-off point for its own series of crazy, colorful adventures.

Of course, the first movie was a huge hit and the second died a quick death at the box office. Apparently, the majority of moviegoers like what I hate and hate what I like.

(Considering that for my epitaph.)

Perhaps give “Alice Through the Looking Glass” a chance on video, and maybe we’ll find we’re not so far apart after all.

This story (screenplay by Linda Woolverton) digs deeper into the Hatter’s past, using a kooky time-traveling device to see how he became so delightfully dinghy. Three years after the events in the last movie, Alice (Mia Wasikowska) returns to Underland to find Hatter has taken deathly ill.

In a delirium -- I know, hard to tell the difference with this one -- Hatter insists that his family, long thought killed by the Jaberwocky, is somehow alive and waiting for him. They track down Time himself (Sacha Baron Cohen) and steal his Chronosphere to jump back to years past.

Of course, the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter), she of the outsized head and aggressiveness, returns to muck up their quest. Anne Hathaway also shows up as the White Queen, and we find out a little more about the sisters’ long-ago divergence.

James Bobin, taking over the directing chair from Tim Burton, keeps the story more or less on an even keel. It turns out that when you have characters and creatures straight out of pure imagination, it helps to arrange them in a methodical way, rather than splaying them out randomly as the previous film did.

But don’t just take my word for it.

Bonus features are quite good, though you’ll have to buy the Blu-ray version to get the vast majority of them. The DVD comes only with one featurette about the making of the costumes.

The Blu-ray includes several more making-of mini-documenatires, the music video for “Just Like Fire” with P!nk, side-by-side comparisons of raw footage and final scenes, profiles of minor characters, deleted scenes and a feature-length commentary track with Bobin.



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