After a disappointing Memorial Day weekend opening, Deadline Hollywood’s Anthony D’Alessandro looks at why the movie adaptation of Alice Through the Looking Glass opened far, far below expectation. Among other things, D’Alessandro writes:

Moviegoers hike to films like Alice in Wonderland, The Jungle Book and Snow White and the Huntsman for uniqueness. Can sequels promise anything better than the first go-round?
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Which is a good thing for filmmakers to remember. They might do very well with a movie based on a strong book, but going back to the well can be (though is not always) disappointing.

Could Alice 2 have been saved? Apparently not.

I’m told that early test screenings didn’t indicate in the least that the James Bobin-directed sequel was headed to a rabbit hole. Following the 2010 installment’s $1 billion worldwide haul, most of the talent was contracted to show up for part 2. One non-Disney executive who was close to the project criticized the screenplay as “half-baked” and that “most of the actors had to go through the motions” in showing up for the sequel. But mostly, time is what expired on Alice 2. The excitement for the property disappeared among audiences, and as we wrote over the weekend, the first Alice in Wonderland benefited from being the second 3D awe that moviegoers boarded post-Avatar (Tim Burton’s Alice generated 71% of its domestic B.O. from 3D). Add in the sequel director’s lack of Burton mystique and Johnny Depp’s drooping star and you’re left with a situation where no amount of potions or pills could make Alice 2 ten-feet tall.

But maybe the answer to Alice 2’s lack of success is a lot simpler than that. Maybe, as many reviewers have suggested, the film is just not that great. Rolling Stone said it most baldly:

Most wanted here is easy charm to counteract the hard sell. Everything is too much, making the movie look like Willy Wonka threw up all over his chocolate factory.

Or The Wall Street Journal:

A better title might be “Alice Through the Funhouse Mirror,” though there’s little fun on the other side.

Yikes! But okay. And the moral of the story here? Want a dose of Alice Through the Looking Glass? Stick with the real deal and buy the book. ◊

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