With over a billion dollar worldwide gross, not to mention a couple of Oscars, it was probably inevitable that Disney would try to turn 2010’s Alice In Wonderland  into a franchise, and that is exactly what they have done with the follow-up, Alice Through The Looking Glasspete hammond review badgeThis time around director Tim Burton is taking only a producing credit, handing over the directorial reins to James Bobin (Muppets Most Wanted, Flight Of The Conchords, The Ali G Show), who actually improves on Burton’s original blueprint and even tops that Oscar-winning production design with a massively inventive Grand Clock set and lots of smaller touches that pay true homage to Lewis Carroll’s immortal creation. And I have to say the 3D conversion work here is outstanding, the best I have ever seen.

The film looks sparkling, and as I say in my video review above, this Alice is a complete wonder of a movie, especially for kids. It’s clever, delightful throughout and generally perfect family fun that even manages to top the original for pure laughs, heart, and imagination. And to top it off, Helena Bonham Carter’s scene stealing Red Queen is back, although she doesn’t run away with things this time as in the Burton picture. That honor goes to Sacha Baron Cohen as a new character, Time. Yes, he plays a human version of time, purveyor of the so-called Grand Clock in which Alice must retrieve the Chronosphere on a mission to save her old friend, the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp, back and buried in more makeup than ever).

It seems Alice (Mia Wasikowska) has been off sailing the high seas for a few years, but when she gets back to London it is not long before the discovery of a magic crystal sets her back off to Underland, where she reunites with old friends like White Rabbit, Cheshire Cat, and of course the Mad Hatter, who just doesn’t seem to be himself. Mirana (Anne Hathaway) sets her off on a mission to time travel back and save Hatter from himself. This is where she encounters Time, comprising the best sequences in the film. It’s funny stuff and Bobin, who directed Baron Cohen in the Ali G series, knows just how to get the best of him.

Of course most of the original cast return to join Wasikowska, Depp, Bonham Carter, and Hathaway  including voice actors Michael Sheen, Stephen Fry, Alan Rickman (to whom the film is dedicated), and Timothy Spall among others. Rhys Ifans as the Mad Hatter’s father is new this time. The production design is aces all the way down the line, with visual effects (for which the first film was Oscar-nominated again impressively carrying off a tough assignment and making it all work as well as it does. Linda Woolverton, a veteran of these Disney fairy tale enterprises (including the original Alice ) wrote the script. In addition to Burton, producers were Jennifer Todd, Suzanne Todd and Joe Roth. They have all made it another worthwhile trip down the rabbit hole.

Do you plan to see Alice Through The Looking Glass?  Let us know what you think.