Danny Elfman is one of the best composers in the film industry, with such iconic themes under his belt as Batman, The Simpsons, Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands and The Nightmare Before Christmas. His score from 2010's Alice in Wonderland was an epic masterpiece, with memorable themes and a new choral piece. Now Elfman returns for the sequel, Alice Through the Looking Glass, to revisit the familiar territory from the first film.
I've always felt that composers must thank their lucky stars when they are invited to do a sequel because most of the hard work is already laid out. That is most definitely true of Through the Looking Glass, where nearly the entire score is a rehash of the themes written for the first film. However, the music was so good that I don't mind hearing it again rearranged.
There are a few new themes for this film, but they are few and far between. They mostly revolve around Time, the only new character with a big impact on the story. Time's theme reminds me of Elfman's work on Batman Returns, using "tick-tock" sounds to keep the tempo. Another new melody is used to connect Alice and Hatter's friendship, which is repeated as an uptempo happy tune as well as a slow and somber one.
At the end of the soundtrack is "Just Like Fire," the end credit song by P!NK. It's a fun pop song with an inspirational message, but the only lyrical connection to the film is the introductory line, "I know that I am running out of time, I want it all." However, the music video is 100% inspired by Wonderland and I highly recommend you see it if you're a fan of P!NK's music.
If I can lodge a complaint against the soundtrack to Alice Through the Looking Glass, its that Elfman's score mostly relies on the "Alice" theme, which wears thin by the end of it. But even more upsetting to soundtrack collectors is that Disney has chosen to provide the tracks out of order. It's as if they took the soundtrack, hit "shuffle" in iTunes and just went with the random order determined by a program's algorithm. It's a questionable decision that is "curiouser and curiouser" and ultimately to the detriment of the soundtrack. Final conclusion, if you own the first film's soundtrack this release offers very little new music. What it mostly does is remind you of all the reasons why Alice Through the Looking Glass fails to achieve the same level of resonance as the first film.