"Alice Through the Looking Glass" is the sequel to Tim Burton's 2010 "Alice in Wonderland," starring several of the same stars (Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, and Helena Bonham Carter) reprising their roles -- but without Burton at the helm. Joining the fantasy world of "Underland" is Sacha Baron Cohen as the personification of Time, and, in the new story, Alice is fleeing not an ill-fated engagement and the loss of her independence as a sea captain traveling the world.
Here are five issues to consider before taking your kids to see Disney's "Alice Through the Looking Glass."
1. How comfortable are they with live-action fantasy?
Although there were a startling number of pre-schoolers and toddlers at a recent promotional screening of "Alice Through the Looking Glass," this James Bobin-directed sequel isn't an ideal first live-action movie or even an appropriate fantasy adventure for kids that young. The story is dark and features potentially upsetting themes about death, loss, grief, and dysfunctional family relationships.
2. How easily do your kids get scared?
Although there's less violence in this installment versus the previous one, there are still scenes of fantasy peril and tense, near-death sequences that could scare your young child. The movie is PG but not G, and therefore expect a few scenes where characters look like they might die and in one case like the entire Underland may be destroyed. There are also emotional, distressing moments when characters say goodbye, seemingly forever. At the screening I attended, some young children were audibly crying at one point, unaware that the movie was unlikely to end in such a sad place.
3. Do you want kids to read it then see it?
Those who haven't read Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland" books may not pick up on how this film overlaps or diverges from the source material, but generally it's better for young readers and viewers to experience an original story before the adaptation. If you feel strongly that kids shouldn't see an adaptation until they've read the book first, take that into consideration before deciding to see the movie, but keep in mind that the movie is a really loose adaptation.
4. Who will enjoy the movie most?
Kids and teens who love the "Alice in Wonderland" books and the various adaptations will enjoy the movie most, unless they're purists about the source material, in which case they're likely to balk at all the creative differences between the new movie and the 1871 "Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There." Because of the occasional scares and mature themes, age-wise it's best for kids 8 and up.
5. What are critics saying about 'Alice'?
Ratings and reviews for "Alice Through the Looking Glass" are mixed to negative, with a "rotten" Tomatometer score of 30 and an unfavorable 37 on Metacritic. The more positive reviews praising the film think it's great for kids: "There is a pleasurable zip and zing to 'Through the Looking Glass' that marks it out as fine escapist fare for children," says Leigh Paatsch of Australia's Herald Sun. The more critical reviews think it barely resembles Carroll's tale: "What does all this have to do with Lewis Carroll? Hardly anything. It's just an excuse on which to hang two trite overbearing fables and one amusing one," says Stephen Holden of The New York Times.
"Alice Through the Looking Glass" opens in theaters nationwide May 20th, 2016.
Alice Kingsleigh returns to Underland and faces a new adventure in saving the Mad Hatter. Read More