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10. Alice Through the Looking Glass
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Alice Through the Looking Glass
Album Cover Art
Composed and Produced by:

Conducted by:
Rick Wentworth

Orchestrated by:
Steve Bartek
David Slonaker
Edgardo Simone

Additional Music by:
Chris Bacon
T.J. Lindgren
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Walt Disney Records
(May 27th, 2016)
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Regular U.S. release.
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Decorative Nonsense
(inverts site colors)

   Availability | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if you fell in love with Danny Elfman's vintage fantasy mode in Alice in Wonderland and hope to hear a loyal and competent extension of that classic score in this sequel.

Avoid it... if superior new themes are your key to enjoyment of sequel scores, Elfman's fresh ideas here outstanding in their action stance but not particularly memorable melodically.
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WRITTEN 6/11/16
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Alice Through the Looking Glass: (Danny Elfman) Something went terribly wrong in the process of adapting Lewis Carroll's "Through the Looking Glass" to the screen in 2016, Alice Kingsleigh's return to Wonderland a frightful mess of temporal mechanics and confusing characters. The 2010 adaptation of Alice in Wonderland wasn't a masterpiece, either, but famed director Tim Burton used his quirky trademark production values to propel the project to over a billion dollars of grosses in theatres. With Burton retreating to only a production role for the sequel, director James Bobin returned to franchise screenwriter Linda Woolverton for a cobbling together of elements from Carroll's "Through the Looking Glass." The end result of their efforts is a story universally panned by critics who referred to it as needlessly extravagant and plain stupid, a blockbuster-oriented excuse to reassemble the cast of the first film (including Alan Rickman in his final role) to make a quick buck. The titular Alice returns to Wonderland to help the Mad Hatter find his family, ultimately battling Time himself (played by Sacha Baron Cohen with a little too much Borat Sagdiyev in expressions) and using a "Chronosphere" to a journey all over the land in time and place to set the universe right. Needless to say, audiences did not financially reward Alice Through the Looking Glass as they did the predecessor, a significant cinematic failure for Walt Disney Studios. None of these regretful circumstances matter for enthusiasts of Danny Elfman's music for the 2010 film, an enduring modern classic of a score that harkened back to the composer's early days of fantastic melodramatic success. The concert arrangement of its primary theme has been performed around the world by ensembles of all shapes and sizes, earning Elfman nominations for a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, and a Grammy (but inexplicably not an Oscar). It was one of the top three scores of 2010 no matter how you look at it, surpassing the quality of the film by leaps and bounds and sparking a renaissance in the composer's fantasy work in general. For Alice Through the Looking Glass, the composer was cognizant of the need to continue the thematic and stylistic characteristics of the previous score while adding a measured touch of new material for this particular adventure.

Elfman does not often tackle sequels to his own scores, Batman Returns likely being the most famous. Unlike that score, however, Alice Through the Looking Glass doesn't stray far from its predecessor in terms of its instrumental and choral style. The organ and deep brass textures beef up the bass environment while flute and cooing choir anchor the other end, the resulting fantasy atmosphere quintessential, classic Elfman from start to finish. The vocal applications are familiar, ensemble and solo boy soprano performances sometimes wordless and at others featuring lyrics carrying over from the prior score. Rhythmic struck percussion receives an enhanced role due to the element of time, a rather mundane though well played choice. The sequel's music functions more like a loyal extension and careful interpolation of Alice in Wonderland into new circumstances, presenting only one major new theme while focusing squarely on expanding the roles of those from the first score. "I didn't want to incorporate, melodically, too much new stuff because I wanted to stay connected to the original music," Elfman explains. For listeners in tune with the secondary themes of Alice in Wonderland, that's great news, because the composer's expansions of those ideas are executed with considerable merit in Alice Through the Looking Glass. The prior score really hinged on its three themes for Alice herself, with ideas for Hatter and Cheshire Cat, among others, recurring noticeably (if not obscured by incomplete album presentations). The "hero theme" is the one that made up the concert arrangement known as "Alice's Theme," punctuated by its ambitious minor third rhythms and descending "Alice" vocals at the end of its key phrases. Simply one of the best themes in the history of film music, Alice's hero theme remains a backbone of Alice Through the Looking Glass, starting with a faithful, abbreviated variation on the concert arrangement in "Alice." The idea is better engrained in the bulk of the score in the sequel, some very satisfying development of its action mode heard in "Asylum Escape." It is also applied as a crescendo with which to end scenes, whether it be "Oceans of Time" or "Kingsleigh & Kingsleigh," the latter closing out the story with one final enunciation of "Alice" before joining with the childhood theme to suggest an unresolved ending.

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Average: 3.95 Stars
***** 422 5 Stars
**** 207 4 Stars
*** 95 3 Stars
** 80 2 Stars
* 70 1 Stars
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Track Listings Icon
Total Time: 76:37
• 1. Alice (6:36)
• 2. Saving the Ship (3:41)
• 3. Watching Time (5:11)
• 4. Looking Glass (3:30)
• 5. To the Rescue (0:56)
• 6. Hatter House (3:47)
• 7. Red Queen (2:29)
• 8. Chronosphere (4:16)
• 9. Warning Hightopps (2:24)
• 10. Tea Time Forever (1:45)
• 11. Oceans of Time (1:16)
• 12. Hat Heartbreak (2:28)
• 13. Asylum Escape (4:07)
• 14. Hatter's Deathbed (3:22)
• 15. Finding the Family (2:05)
• 16. Time is Up (4:24)
• 17. World's End (1:51)
• 18. Truth (4:10)
• 19. Goodbye Alice (2:13)
• 20. Kingsleigh & Kingsleigh (1:22)
Bonus Score Tracks: (11:21)
• 21. Seconds Song (0:12)
• 22. Friends United (1:07)
• 23. Time's Castle (1:49)
• 24. Seconds (0:50)
• 25. Clock Shop (1:55)
• 26. They're Alive (2:24)
• 27. Story of Time (3:07)

• 28. Just Like Fire - performed by P!nk (3:36)

Notes Icon
The insert includes lyrics to the P!nk song but no extra information about the score or film.
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The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Alice Through the Looking Glass are Copyright © 2016, Walt Disney Records and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 6/11/16 (and not updated significantly since).
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