- Composed by Danny Elfman
- Walt Disney Records / 2016 / 76m
Tim Burton’s 2010 take on Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland may have received only mixed reviews but it made an absolute fortune at the box office so I guess it’s no surprise that a sequel has (somewhat belatedly) now arrived. Burton didn’t come back, directorial duties passing instead to James Bobin, but screenwriter Linda Woolverton did return; the film’s been given a bit of a mauling this time and doesn’t look likely to repeat its predecessor’s success in any way. Danny Elfman wrote a brilliant score for the first film, probably his most memorable film work in a number of years, bolstered in particular by the great main theme. He’s back for the sequel (reportedly at the expense of Burton’s latest film, with schedules clashing – whether that’s the real reason he didn’t do Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will I guess be revealed in time). For Through the Looking Glass, he has essentially taken his first score, beefed it up a bit with a few more bells and whistles and that’s basically that – so you know exactly what you’re going to get, and also how you’ll likely feel about it, if you’ve heard that first one.
Again that fabulous theme is at the heart of virtually everything, in so many different guises – a full six-minute version opens the album in “Alice” and then it’s all over the place afterwards, from the sweetest little arrangement through to dynamic action variant. Speaking of action, it dominates from a slightly earlier point on this album than the previous one and is very elaborate, orchestral fun with a dose of silliness often thrown in (but it’s serious when it needs to be – I love “Time Is Up” towards the end) and a whole load of mickey-mousing which is done as well as you’d expect a composer of Elfman’s character to be done, but inevitably it does become a bit wearing over such a lengthy album. There is a new theme or two, but so dominant is the Alice theme they don’t really stick in the mind. As with Goosebumps last year, the album is thoughtfully programmed as a complete album (the first twenty cues, an hour or so long) with the rest of the score being marked as bonus tracks, and a song by Pink is thrown in too. It’s probably not quite as good as the first one (I love the more delicate moments, and there aren’t as many of them – and there’s probably a shade too much mickey-mousing) but it’s still very entertaining stuff and a welcome return to a rich and vibrant musical world.
Rating: *** 1/2
Alice in Wonderland Danny Elfman