Relentlessly complicated and unpleasant, Alice Through The Looking Glass is an addition to the confounding history of Hollywood's failed attempts to make a decent movie out of this source material. Walt Disney reportedly disliked the animated version, and while the Tim Burton/Disney (2010) Alice In Wonderland was the studio's biggest live-action hit in history, I've never met a single human being that actually liked it.
The perfect word is GROTESQUE. I mean grotesque in a way like a seventy-eight year old call-girl, wearing an enormous amount of Bob Mackie fashion with the lights up... way up. Not a solitary second that isn't distractingly and distastefully over-produced with a plot so convoluted that it takes a good fifteen minutes for a multitude of frenetic CGI characters to explain why we have to have this sequel at all.
It's not hyperbole to say that Johnny Depp is one of the greatest screen actors of all time. Within that pantheon of excellence, however, he's committed two of the wildest character assassinations in cinematic history:
1) Making Willy Wonka an effeminate, paige-boy'd, homage to Michael Jackson.
2) Turning the Mad Hater into a pathetic, Victorian aged transvestite suffering with advanced syphilis, made even worse this time with CGI facial enhancements.
The film is bookended by two overloud and overbearing messages about how Alice doesn't need a man, and the boring center is filled with scenes that feel more like ascending levels of a video game than a coherent narrative of a film. In fact, this might be the only movie in history where the video game version is superior.
This will make you appreciate the studio's successful efforts with last year's Cinderella and the recent The Jungle Book even more. Those films had A-list directors. This guy (James Bobin) has directed two mediocre Muppet movies. Perhaps a more respected and solid choice for a franchise this valuable would have been a good idea. The Disney movie this one most closely resembles is, astonishingly, Return To Oz.
The end of this sensory assault delivers the usual, cynical attempt at obtaining an Oscar nomination for best song by inserting an anachronistic pop-ballad. As I soon became the last person in the theater watching it I couldn't help but think of what a lost opportunity it was not to include Lewis Carroll's original intent of social/political satire through mockery. How timely those writings could be right now. I sat, alone, in the huge IMAX theater and actually marveled at how much I hated it.
(Loudinni specializes in movie reviews under 500 words, sans spoilers.)