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ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS
DVD. Second Sight.

Alice Through the Looking GlassFilmed a few times before – though more often assimilated into it’s predecessor – Lewis Carroll’s sequel to Alice in Wonderland is here adapted as a fairly indulgent star vehicle that follows the plot of the book fairly well, but makes pointless omissions and ridiculous substitutions.

Opening in the modern day, it stars Kate Beckinsale as the mother of a young child who won’t sleep and asks mummy to look into the mirror and see the world beyond. This she does, entering the mirror and becoming ‘Alice’. Why a seven year old girl had to be replaced by an actress in her mid-twenties, given that this is supposedly a children’s story, is never explained – but it’s clearly an attempt to appeal to an adult audience, as are the star turns from the likes of Steve Coogan (playing the same role he always plays), Ian Holm, Geoffrey Palmer and Gary Olsen and Marc Warren, who turn up as intensely irritating cockney Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee, throwing in pointless Tommy Cooper impersonations along the way.

As Alice makes her way through this strange land, everything looks nice and surreal, but very little happens. The characters Alice meets feel as though they have been dragged out simply to give a name star a few minutes of screen-time, and so we have human actors where animal characters should be, some remarkably self-indulgent performances and a curious lack of engagement. The Jabberwocky sequence is a wasted opportunity, the ‘silent-movie’ sequence with Ian Holm as The White Knight unnecessarily indulgent and both the omissions and the additions to the story poor choices (the Red Queen’s race is gone, but the wig-wearing wasp that Carroll dropped from his original book is included – badly).

It’s a pity, because this is an impressively mounted effort on the whole – though some animation effects are pretty bad – and has pretty solid source material. But it feels very much like what, I guess, it is – the product of Channel 4 producers more concerned with impressing their media buddies than actually delivering something that kids would enjoy. As a result, the film feels like a very long series of skits rather than a progressing tale.

I suspect that most children will lose interest in this fairly quickly, while adults might be irritated at seeing flavour-of-the-week performers like Coogan crow-barred into the action for no reason other than ratings.

DAVID FLINT

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