After months of excitement for this movie, we finally got to see Disney’s brand new Alice Through The Looking Glass on Sunday. Alice Through The Looking Glass is the sequel to Disney’s 2010 live action Alice In Wonderland, directed by Tim Burton. While still on board with this production as executive producer, Through The Looking Glass saw the departure of Tim Burton as director but James Bobin taking over in his role, and screenplay written by Linda Woolverton.
If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know how much I love Alice In Wonderland! It’s my all-time favourite fantasy story (next to Peter Pan), I thought Tim Burton’s 2010 project was amazing with a great original story that incorporated both plot and character elements from both of Lewis Carroll’s wonderful original Alice novels.
With some franchises, when a sequel is announced, I sometimes ponder to myself “is it entirely necessary“? I most recently thought this about Frozen 2 being announced. I loved Frozen, even the Frozen Fever short was entertaining, but I’m not too keen on the idea of another whole full feature-length story (I will probably write a separate post of my views on Frozen at some point soon!). However, I must admit, I felt that Alice definitely deserved a sequel. When we last saw Alice, she had just saved Underland by slaying the Jabberwocky, returned to her home reality, publicly humiliated Hamish and the party by rejecting his proposal, and followed in the footsteps of her father by organising profitable voyages on his ship, The Wonder. We left her strong, independent, and free to journey and explore the world before her. So, where does Alice Through The Looking Glass pick up the story from?
Three years later, Alice Kingsleigh (Mia Wasikowska) is commanding sea captain of The Wonder. After safely arriving home from China and being reunited with her mother in England, Alice’s world soon comes tumbling down as Alice’s father has passed away, leaving ex-fiancé Hamish in charge of his former company, with cunning plans to buy Alice’s ship in exchange for her family home. This greatly upsets Alice, who soon discovers her old friend Absolem (the butterfly, voiced by the late, great Alan Rickman) flittering by and into a looking glass… So, being naturally curious, Alice follows him, and rediscovers Underland and all her friends who have been awaiting her return.
Not all is as it seems… Tarrant Hightopp (The Mad Hatter, portrayed by none other than Johnny Depp) has been behaving even more madder than usual. He found the first hat he ever made lying on the ground, which has led him to believe that his long-lost family may still be alive and didn’t die on The Attack Of The Jabberwocky Day. Troubled by his declining health, The White Queen, Mirana (Anne Hathaway) sends Alice on a quest to meet Time himself (Sacha Baron Cohen), find the Chronosphere, and change the past to save Tarrant’s family once and for all.
I’ll start by addressing the “flop” reviews. Firstly, I’m not sure why critics are reacting negatively to this beautiful movie. Did they not watch the first Alice In Wonderland? Is it recent press regarding Depp’s private affairs? I honestly don’t understand it. If anything, I think I enjoyed Alice Through The Looking Glass just as much as Alice In Wonderland… if not more!
Not much story was given away in the trailers, other than the Mad Hatter being in danger, The Red Queen, Iracebeth’s return (portrayed brilliantly by Helena Bonham Carter) and the introduction of Time. Introducing a new character into an already established franchise can be daunting, but Time made a fantastic “villain”. He’s funny, cocky, and a little bit of a twit. Helena Bonham Carter is still incredible as the ravishing Iracebeth, with the ever-talented Anne Hathaway as her sister, Mirana. Together they make a great rivalry pairing in this movie as we see more of their jaunty past (and it turns out not all is Iracebeth’s fault… Even the fair Mirana has a darker side). Johnny Depp fully embodies the Mad Hatter in all his emotions and behaviourism in a way I couldn’t possibly envision any other actor doing such justice. Tarrant Hightopp is at the very centre of the story, so it’s great to see even more character development from the already multi-layered Hatter. Mia Wasikowska is perfect as Alice, and has become even more of an stronger, independent character than the first movie. She is a modern woman in an out-dated man’s world, and her struggles to follow her dreams are very real. Alice is a great role model for girls and women everywhere as she always stands up for herself, her rights, and what she believes. She isn’t afraid to stand out from the crowd and be unique. It was also lovely to see Alice and her mother’s close relationship as they grow to understand each other throughout the course of the film. Mia’s Alice will always be my favourite live action on-screen portrayal of the classic literature character.
Time travel as a major plot in Underland was a great decision! I absolutely loved seeing all the many character’s back stories play out through the eyes of Alice as she travels in the Chronosphere, with Time himself hot on her heels. The ever-closer peril throughout the movie creeps nearer and nearer as Alice discovers that it may be impossible to change the past. However, Alice’s motto is that even the impossible can be made possible if only you believe, and her optimism leads the way. As with the first movie, the scenery and costumes are absolutely breath-taking! Time’s castle has brilliant steampunk vibes, Underland itself gains more colourful realistic settings in place of the usual CGI and I simply cannot express how much I love Alice’s mandarin costume. It’s BEAUTIFUL. I too would wear it instead of a dress any day!
In conclusion, if you’ve had mixed ideas about seeing Alice Through The Looking Glass, please ignore the negative reviews and go give it a watch yourself. I can guarantee that you will be thoroughly entertained by the story and amazing performances throughout, and if you’re anything like me, even desire another sequel in future! As with most newer Disney movies, please be mindful of taking very young children (under 5’s) as there are some mildly scary scenes as well as some bits of story that might be a bit too complicated to understand in the first 10 minutes or so. I could honestly go on and on about how much I adored this movie which has a well-taught moral about the inevitable passing of time at its heart… but I’ll leave it here, and let you decide your thoughts for yourself. Be sure to enjoy all the twists and turns along the way!