There will be a few people who will wholeheartedly enjoy Alice Through the Looking Glass, and despite my personal feelings about the film I envy them. Back in 2010, Alice in Wonderland was something of a surprise hit despite a decidedly mixed response among the public and being the source of controversy among both Disney fans and those of Lewis Carroll’s work. The unique Tim Burton style combined with quirky, memorable characters and a feminist tale all set in a familiar frame helped the movie pass the billion dollar mark at the box office and make it a staple of cable television. But on the other hand, it’s seeming lack of interest in being a straightforward adaptation of either the source material or the animated Disney classic alienated fans of both and helped kick off a slew of live-action Disney remakes that continue to cause debate. As someone who is a huge Disney fan and a fan of Carroll’s books, but who also unabashedly loves the 2010 film, for what it is rather than what I might have wished it to be, I really wanted to love Alice Through the Looking Glass. So many of the pieces are still there, and it definitely has some moments of worth, but as a whole it feels lazy, thrown together, and occasionally phoned in. No matter how much I might enjoy and appreciate this particular take on these familiar characters, and as visually impressive as the film might be, it’s almost impossible to not feel disappointed by this unnecessary sequel.
Once Upon a Time In Wonderland was an intriguing concept. Where most TV spinoffs usually feel forced, like an attempt to simply cash in on the success of the parent show, Wonderland at least had potential. The world of Once Upon a Time is so vast, and we’ve only scratched the surface of the many worlds and realms that have been seen and mentioned on the show, that it seemed like the perfect setup for a spinoff. We’d gotten a few glimpses at Wonderland, either dealing with Jefferson/the Mad Hatter or Cora/the Queen of Hearts, but the potential was there just waiting to be tapped. Unfortunately, the end result didn’t exactly live up to that potential, but it was still an experiment worth trying and provided us with some memorable characters.
When I heard that Disney was producing a live-action version of Alice in Wonderland I was both nervous and excited. I was never a fan of the animated “classic” and I felt it missed the point of the books entirely. So the new version offered a chance to either fix the mistakes of the earlier version (a la 2003’s Peter Pan), or a chance to fail again. Then when I heard it would be a Tim Burton/ Johnny Depp collaboration, my heart sank. The last time they did a remake/adaptation we were left with the absolutely horrible Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But I still had faith in the duo, with their many previous successes and their tremendous pool of talent to draw from. As the cast filled out better than I had hoped, and the images and trailers began emerging I allowed myself to hope that this time I wouldn’t be disappointed. When I found out that it was based on an original take of Alice’s story, rather than a direct translation, my excitement reached its peak. But I never, ever would have guessed what we were in store for. Continue reading