When you consider that a large portion of female characters in cinema are mainly reduced to paper-thin stereotypes or objectified window dressing, you should never undervalue a film with a strong female character at its core – especially one which appeals to a younger audience.
Alice Through the Looking Glass, the latest adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s popular Alice stories and sequel to 2010’s Alice in Wonderland, is an example of the latter. Like its predecessor, it is a film with many flaws, but flaws which can largely be forgiven due to its eye-widening visuals and central heroine.
When we catch up with Alice at the beginning of this film, she is the Captain of her father’s ship, The Wonder, fleeing pirates in the middle a stormy ocean. When all the men seem content to give up and surrender, it is Alice who manages to lead them home through her courage and intelligence.
On arriving home after being away for three-years, she discovers to her shock that her ex-fiancée, Hamish Ascot, has taken over her father’s company and wants to put an end to her travels. Instead, he and the board of stuffy, old gentlemen want Alice to become a clerk; a position which they think more suited to a woman.
It’s during the opening few moments where I was most invested in Alice Through the Looking Glass, admiring the fact that Alice is a character of strong will and fortitude, unwilling to conform to the male society’s views on how a woman should behave. However, when Alice takes a tumble through a looking glass and back into Wonderland, the story does become less interesting.
Tasked with the mission to go back in time in an attempt to save the Mad Hatter’s life, the narrative starts to fly all over the place and that sense of Wonderland-weirdness begins to take a hold of the film. Whilst there’s a lot to like about its ambitious narrative, it’s the truly spectacular visuals, as well as the costume, hair and makeup, that steal the show.
Aside from another irksome performance from Johnny Depp, the cast are fantastic – especially the hilarious Sacha Baron Cohen, here playing the embodiment of time. The Wonderland sequences work on a surface level only, having no real relevance to the events going on in the ‘real world’.
In spite of its problematic narrative, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t entertained throughout. Whilst it’s far from a classic, there’s still plenty to like about Alice Through the Looking Glass. The visuals are superb, the cast are likeable and there are some genuinely funny moments along the way. More than anything though, it’s Aice herself which is the film’s biggest success.
Watching it, my mind turned to my young niece and other girls of her age who might watch this and may be encouraged to be an adventurer or whatever else they might want to do, regardless of what people may think impossible or above them. If Alice Through the Looking Glass has that affect on young girls, then that is, at the very least, something to be thankful for.
Image credit to http://www.impawards.com