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'Alice Through the Looking Glass' is a tale of 2 halves

Posted May 31

WONDERLAND — Big summer movies are coming at us faster and faster, and last weekend welcomed the release of "Alice Through the Looking Glass."

This is the sequel to the 2010 film "Alice in Wonderland" directed by Tim Burton. That movie made what I think is scientifically known as a sickening amount of money, so naturally a sequel would follow.

There were some things I really enjoyed in this film and some things that were less successful. Overall, this sequel directed by James Bobin and not Tim Burton, is just OK. At the end of the day, I felt like I got two different films. The first was a boring, drawn out affair that I wanted to end. Then, the second half came along and I was interested once again.

Here's a look at the good and the bad from the film:

The bad

Slow

The first half of this film had a lot of issues, but the biggest was the pacing. To put it bluntly, I was bored. I could tell where the movie was going, but I just didn't care. Everything felt so glacial that I was looking at my watch with the same disdain I'd look at the clock in my eighth grade English class. Time seemed to slow and all I could think about was the wonderful things I'd do with my life once I was out of there.

Maybe that's a little harsh, but most of the entire first half could not grab my attention.

Story felt a little lazy

The writers of the film seemed to really make an effort to tell a story that moved Alice's story forward and made us more sympathetic towards the Mad Hatter, but it didn't work. I felt disconnected from the characters because of their weak motivations and annoyed with Alice for basically causing the problem that Wonderland faced because she refused to take some advice. There were also some attempts at twists and turns that fell flat and felt forced.

The good

World building

Just like its predecessor, "Alice Through the Looking Glass" is a pretty gorgeous film. The CGI isn't exactly spot on or even as impressive as another recent Disney flick "The Jungle Book," but the worlds that are built are beautiful, intricate and fascinating. I found myself caring less about the story and just wanting a tour of the buildings and villages displayed on screen.

Alice

I took my 5-year-old daughter with me and I loved watching her face light up as she cheered on a great heroine who is truly the savior of Wonderland, even if she was the reason they needed one to begin with. Alice is portrayed as a strong, confident, smart, ferocious and brave woman. I feel like she is a great example for kids everywhere, especially those young girls like my daughter.

Not only that, but Alice is by far the most interesting character. It felt as if all of the other characters had just been sitting around the tea table for the last several years just waiting for Alice to show up once again. They had not grown or progressed. Alice, on the other hand, had matured, changed and become more interesting over the years. The marketing team may try to pitch this as the Mad Hatter's movie, but its Alice's all the way and that's a good thing.

The second half

Don't misunderstand, the second half is far from perfect, but it at least moved at a quicker pace, the motivations felt a bit stronger and the film felt less boring, overall.

If it had not been for that pick up in the latter half of the film, I would have really struggled to finish it.

Conclusion

"Alice Through the Looking Glass" isn't terrible, but it's also not great. If you loved the 2010 "Alice In Wonderland," then there is a good chance you'll enjoy this. If not, then this likely will not be your cup of tea.

Overall, I'd say this is a fun movie to watch with the family some night at home when you drop by Redbox after work or when it inevitably pops up on Netflix a couple of years from now.

"Alice Through the Looking Glass" is rated PG for fantasy action/violence involving scary images and situations, and for a smoking caterpillar. There are some moments that may be a little scary for the kids, but this should be OK for most kids. My 5-year-old fared quite well and she usually gets spooked by dark images and intense situations.

John has been writing about movies, news, sports and pretty much anything awesome for more than five years. John is the co-host of the Flix Junkies podcast and will always entertain you with his stories.

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