Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016)

alice

Into the dark you tumble into Alice Through the Looking Glass; James Bobin’s wild, witty and extravagant take on Lewis Carroll’s illusory hallucinations. Visually, the certainty that the two imaginative artists were made for each other is realized exquisitely, matched with a haunting design for Wonderland, a seamless meeting of live action with animation and picturesque charm. But the story is now far less Carroll and Burton than Bobin taking flight with a script crafted by Linda Woolverton, who references and incorporates characters in a way that answers our curious and curiouser childish wonders.

Replacement director James Bobin takes the reigns for this sequel, following Alice’s travels into the past to prevent the Jabberwocky from roasting Mad Hatter’s parents. Frolicking with other whimsical wonderland creatures, Hatter is suddenly triggered by discarded trash that reminds him of his estranged, long-gone family. Hatter pleads and finally convinces Alice that she must find them and bring them back … even if they are now long passed. Hatter’s whacky crazy madness is in the fabric of this film, and Alice’s journey of restoring harmony to wonderland again will leave you asking for more. Trust me, by the conclusion of the film you will know all of the little secrets you didn’t even know you wanted to know. Looking Glass is a dream come true.

Bobin takes Burton’s film and escalates it in an effort to not only continue the Disney run of adaptations, but to potentially recapture the immense success of the first film. But above the film’s strenuous attempts to resonate with larger personal themes of loss, strife and time, Looking Glass is a selling spectacle … and a good one at that. Bobin has a fantastic eye for visual effects, but this often pushes him from diverting tedious to deafening, as the bright colours and movement strain to draw the illusion of a film with a story to tell. But Sacha Baron Cohen doesn’t fail to bring an outstanding performance as Time. He’s derisive, obnoxious and crazy about the Red Queen. Time is truly spectacular. It serves as yet another reminder that the Borat actor is proficient in depths rarely explored by other filmmakers. Otherwise, character development is mind-numbing, conflict is dull and the backstories are painfully predictable.

Alice Through the Looking Glass is pervasive of the blockbuster model in painful ways. But stemming from my never failing love of Alice in Wonderland, I still enjoyed it immensely. Bobin applies more absurdity and more surrealism into Alice’s sense of fantasy, while weakly contributing to the overarching central story. He creates magical spectacles and forefronts in a world-class tech reel, capturing the dreamlike wonderland we know and love in an earnest and spectacular way. But if I can sum up Alice Through the Looking Glass in one sentence: it’s like holding a vivid, colourful balloon that deflates a little more every second you hold onto it.

★★★☆☆

Despicable Me 2 – More minions, more despicable (2013)

If you like adorable animated films then this is a perfect movie for you. The entire movie overflows with quirky comedy and impressive animation. Despicable Me 2 picks mostly where the original ended, this time exploring the characters more deeply and uncovering hidden secrets as the movie progresses. Pierre Coffin directs yet another hit animation film but Despicable Me 2 sticks to a nicer only slightly evil sequel.

Steve Carrel returns as Gru, the villain turned loving parent of his three adopted little girls in the new minion filled sequel. Since parting with his life of stealing precious objects in the first movie, Gru has accustomed himself to a joyful life with his new family. It is however, Gru’s dormant evil persona that attracts attention of the Anti-villain league. A new threat has emerged that is seemingly positioned in the mall, a playground for Gru and his sidekick agent Lucy, who perhaps fall in love, unpredictable I know.

El Macho voiced by Benjamin Bratt is a potentially great and very interesting villain embodied with hairy-chested masculinity and a Lucho mask. Unfortunately he doesn’t become a daunting enemy until later. Dr. Nefario voiced by Russel Brand and the squabbling Minions are the highlight of the movie because events and actions centre on their emotions. Gru’s love interest Lucy does have her unforgettable moments and Gru is the more improved, recently emotion filled character we know and love.

DreamWorks introduces humour excellently that will entertain both parents and children without drawing offence or any inappropriate behaviour. The plot suffers occasionally from overpowering predictability, but there’s no refusing that Despicable Me 2 does a great job of appealing to anyone searching for indestructible characters and enormous robots. The minions never mature and the film uncovers a hidden side to the three adorable daughters. It’s a fantastic animated film that all ages can enjoy.