Thoughts Flitting Through the Looking Glass

Alice follows Absalom back through the looking glass to Underland.
Alice follows Absalom back through the looking glass to Underland.

“Callooh callay come run away…” while we visit Wonderland (or Underland) once again. The Walt Disney Company released the sequel to the popular 2010 Alice in Wonderland movie, over Memorial Day weekend. And we all know I can’t resist Alice-related media, so I grabbed my favorite partner-in-crime and headed to the theater in order to bring you my thoughts on the movie.

Without too many spoilers, here’s a quick summary: Alice Through the Looking Glass shows the continuing adventures of Alice Kingsleigh, both in her real life and in Underland. It opens with the tail end of her travels and her reacquainting herself with family and colleagues. While she was traveling, her father’s former partner, Lord Ascot, has passed away, leaving former fiancée want-to-be Hamish in charge. Hamish persists in putting her in her “proper” place, a retaliation for Alice’s refusal of his proposal. 

This leads Alice to a situation where she finds the odd-looking mirror that she follows Absalom (the Butterfly/former caterpillar) through. Once back in Underland, she must save the Hatter by saving his family somewhere in their past. This pits Alice against the personification of Time.  Of course Alice’s favorite nemesis, the Red Queen, also has plans to change time, but all turns out well in the end.

Overall, I found this movie kind of blah. There are some stunning visuals, which are probably even better in 3D. However, I found much of the story to be disjointed. My actual first comment was “they really needed to spend a little more time on the script.” I have to wonder if the change of director from 2010’s Alice in Wonderland to this movie had any influence. Maybe I am just too big a fan of Tim Burton to see his work continued without him. (*cough* Batman)

Sacha Baron-Cohen is surprisingly enjoyable as Time.
Sacha Baron-Cohen is surprisingly enjoyable as Time.

There were two outstanding features of the film for me though.  The first is Time. I am not a Sacha Baron Cohen fan, but he was wonderful in this part. Plus, the character explores the full range of human feelings towards Time—from bad (Thief and Enemy) to good (Hero, Friend ). Time just has a job to do and Cohen does an excellent job while keeping his movements very stiff and clocklike. 

Alice faces off against the Red Queen once again.
Alice faces off against the Red Queen once again.

The second is Helena Bonhan Carter as the Red Queen. She just does an excellent job as the petulant, bellowing, dethroned despot. It was like watching Carter slip on a favorite dress, she was just so comfortable in the character. Her ease really bought into stark contrast how off Johnny Depp and Anne Hathaway were in reprising their roles.

Depp is off his game as the Hatter.
Depp is off his game as the Hatter.

Basically, I always enjoy a chance to visit Alice and the Wonderlanders, but I really could have saved my eleven bucks and waited to see it at home. If you do go to see it soon, make sure you brush up on your Alice lore. The filmmakers enjoyed throwing little nods to the original books and other Alice movies. In any case, at some point, enjoy your travels through Underland. And if you happen to come across a music box that plays a death march and chops off heads, you know what I want for my next un-birthday.  

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