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Alice Through The Looking Glass (Blu-ray Review)

Alice-Through-The-Looking-GlassFollowing Sweeney Todd, I was very excited for Tim Burton to be taking on Alice In Wonderland.  It looked like not only would it have the Burton stamp, but it would be sort of a follow up to the original tale.  However, the film came out the same weekend in 2010 that I got married. The following week, my wife opened a business.  The film just sort of got away from me.  It was met with really poor reviews and disdain from peers that I trust, so I just never got around to seeing it.  I avoided it for the last 6 years.  Now, since this sequel was coming out, and I knew I’d be reviewing it, the time had finally come to see this 1 billion dollar box office success story.  And, well, I have to say it was pretty bad, and easily one of Burton’s worst.  However, while I didn’t want a sequel, it wouldn’t take much more to improve.  And here we are.

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Film 

In “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” the all-star cast from the 2010 blockbuster is back with Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter who’s desperately searching for his family; Anne Hathaway as Mirana, the kind, mild-mannered White Queen; Helena Bonham Carter as Iracebeth, the short-tempered, big-headed Red Queen; and Mia Wasikowska as Alice, the heroine at the heart of the story.  Sacha Baron Cohen joins the ensemble as Time, a magical being that is part human, part clock, and the late Alan Rickman—to whom the film is dedicated—is the voice of Absolem, the blue Monarch butterfly who metamorphosed from the blue caterpillar “Alice in Wonderland.”

Well, in all honestly, this is a big improvement over the previous film in this series.  Its kinda one of those movies that’s just “nice”.  It was an entertaining watch, but I’ll be moving on and probably not returning to it any time soon if ever.  While we return to the same world, unlike last time there’s some competence here and not this feeling like you’re watching a pretty big mess in progress.  This one has itself and singular mission and idea, and its just going to follow that.

What’s really great is that this film is a completely different adventure than the previous film.  Yes, I know, DUH its the sequel, but it really could have just tried to play “more of the same”.  Instead, we don’t crutch as much on older characters and head to new places, with different people, ideas and learn a lot of stuff that really wasn’t there before.  There’s a sort of refreshing feel to it.  It gets off to a really good start, too, with a bit of swashbuckling ship at sea stuff.  Good moments and action beats do abound, but it can be a bit of vanilla watching this for the most part.

One of my favorite aspects of Alice Through The Looking Glass is the overall design of the environments in this film.  The places they go and structures they see look right out of some really cool fantasy novels.  Not necessarily linked to the Alice adventures, but somewhat something strong on their own.  Its so good, I’d really like to take a look at a visual guide or book that collects the art of this film.  The sort of hand drawn sketches, paintings and designs before they go ahead and animate them.

As far as the cast goes, like last time, everyone is terrific and gives it their all.  My feelings on the first film notwithstanding, I did and still do really enjoy Mia Wasikowska’s Alice.  She’s a strong character, and Wasikowska as she does in everything, gives it a unique flavor.  The pages do well to give her that boost as well.  Sasha Baron Cohen is the notable new member to the cast and the sort of Mad Hatter element they want to put into the film.  He’s pretty solid, an interesting take on time, but a nitwit.  If anything, his design and costuming is very interesting as well.

Fans of the original film, rejoice! You get an even better one here.  Those who despised the Burton effort shouldn’t fear this one.  Its a solid effort and much better film.  Though, that said, its still just an okay one and not one that I really think you should run for.  If you’re a bit fan of world, character, costume and gadget designs, then I think you should give this thing a shot as that is probably the most interesting (and my favorite) aspect of the whole thing.  And, if you have kids, this is some fun live action fantasy for them to enjoy.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Alice Through the Looking Glass displays a bright, vivid, colorful and sharp image that pushes your Blu-ray to the lengths of what it can do in terms of picture.  There’s a nice soft glow, that feels so much like perfect fantasy in this image.  Its plenty detailed and crisp.  Every little nook and cranny in this film displays great amounts of texture, pattern and detail.  All the costumes in the have a great amount of intricacy to how they come off.

Depth:  This film had a theatrical release in 3-D and you can see where this probably was a pretty fun ride.  Right from the start, there is some great dimensional work on display with ships, water and the masts floating around the screen to and fro.  Most of the environments in the film are computer rendered with plenty of depth and separation from the cast that inhabits them.  Details and plenty clear and movements are smooth and natural.

Black Levels:  Blacks are rich and very deep and solid.  No crushing here at all in this viewing.  Shadows and evening sequences look quite lovely and plenty varied and dark.

Color Reproduction: Disney could have really burst out of the 4K UHD gates by showing off some HDR with this one, but they just aren’t there yet.  As is, this is a really impressive looking color display here.  Reds are rich, both popping and pulling some nice deep work.  Its a wonderfully vivid and fantastical palette.  Even down to the white, this looks impressive.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones have a nice soft, fantastical look to them, but keep in natural mode for the most part, even though some of the scenes skew a little colder.  Facial details like make-up brush marks, lip texture, facial scars/bumps, moles and more show up clear as day here.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean for the most part. Some very very light noise in a couple scenes.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 7.1 DTS-HD MA, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Dynamics: Like the dimensional work, Alice Through The Looking Glass really starts off on a serious high note with the ship/storm action sequence.  Its like a warm up for you system as every speaker plays a role with unique sounds, flare and energy.  The whole movie features a lot of fun, innovative work with the unique environments to fill your ears.  Vocals feel a bit low in the mix, part of why this keeps it from having a perfect score.  Aside from that, crank this, the action is great.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Water crashing, explosions, loud gear work and floating through time are all some nice contributors to the rumble of your subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation:  This 7 channel mix takes a nice tour through your viewing area.  Rear speakers provide some significant contributions with their own explosions, crashes, voices and movements.  Side speakers provide some nice support and help continue movements and travel.  Front speakers are impactful and keep a very accurate translation of placement on screen to relative speaker.

Dialogue Reproduction: As mentioned, dialogue is a little low in the mix. But, the words are clear and crisp, presenting a nice clean sound.

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Extras 

Alice Through The Looking Glass comes with the DVD edition and UltraViolet digital copy of the film.

Audio Commentary

  • By Director James Bobin

Behind The Looking Glass (HD, 8:39) – A pretty basic, safe making of, that has a narration like its from the Disney Channel or something.

A Stitch In Time: Costuming Wonderland (HD, 4:24) – This one is about the costumes in the film with Colleen Atwood.  Features a look at sketches as well as the costumes on display mannequins.

Characters of Underland (HD, 4:47) – A featurette that goes over the basics of the side characters that are returning from the first film.

Time On… (HD, 1:46) – Sasha Baron Cohen does a  behind the scenes interview in character.

Alice Goes Through The Looking Glass: A Scene Peeler (HD, 2:27) – The step by step showing of the moment where Alice goes through the looking glass. Features a split screen up to  3 images. Mainly showing the blue screen footage and the final footage at the same time.

Alice Goes Through Time’s Castle: A Scene Peeler (HD, 1:33) – Same concept as the others, but this one shows more of a scene that demonstrates the scale of the film and how it looked in the blue screen footage.

Music Video: “Just Like Fire” By P!NK (HD, 3:58) 

Behind The Music Video (HD, 3:02) – A montage of behind the scenes footage intercut with interviews between P!NK and director Dave Meyers.

Deleted Scenes with Optional Audio Commentary (HD, 8:56) 

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Summary 

Alice Through The Looking Glass is an improvement over the first film and a better effort, yet its really still nothing all too special.  This Blu-ray gives it a top tier performance.  Both audio video are terrific here.  Extras are a bit plenty here, but kinda short and a bit safe/generic.  No matter what I say, it doesn’t count out that this is also a solid bit of entertainment of live action fantasy for kids.  That’s who is definitely going to the get the most of this, and who you should pick it up for.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

1 Response to “Alice Through The Looking Glass (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Brian White

    I disliked the first film so much that I don’t think I could sit through this one. Independence Day Resurgence was enough. With that being said I cant wait for Suicide Squad release!!!