So I finally got around the seeing Alice Through the Looking Glass, which I have been looking forward to seeing ever since it was announced. Not having read the book, I was very curious about where they were going to take it and I was worried that it would bomb out like many a sequel has done, but it was really good and I wasn’t disappointed by it at all.
In typical Tim Burton style, it is a visual feast of fantastical colours, characters and settings. All characters and settings have their own clearly defined look that, particularly in regards to the characters, is easily recognisable from Alice in Wonderland Alice, (Mia Wasikowska) is really the only character who has major costume changes both in the movie and from the previous movie. The Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) also experiences changes, but it is in his colouring rather than his costuming. Alice Through the Looking Glass centres on the Mad Hatter being sick due to missing his family, and throughout the movie he is slowly leeched of colour as he becomes more weak and, arguably, deranged. He is still clearly the same character and the changing colour works, but I felt that the make up that made his look so iconic in the first film didn’t have the same feel in this one. Whilst it was never normal, it felt somewhat authentic in the first movie, but it didn’t this time, which often worked to pull me out of the film because it distracted to me.
The character of Time (Sacha Baron Cohen) is depicted as the main antagonist in the trailer. He is both the keeper of and connected to the Grand Clock, which controls the past, present and future of Underland. Both the Clock and Time are run by the chronosphere, which Alice has to steal to travel back in time to save the Hatter’s family and thus save the Hatter. Time chases her because of dire consequences that are caused by someone taking the chronosphere. I think his actions and the reasoning behind them, wanting to save Underland, make Time more of an anti-hero rather than an antagonist. However, in saying that, he does do things, such as making the Hatter, the Doormouse and the March Hare stuck at one minute to teatime, that make him an antagonist, so maybe he’s just an interesting mixture of both.
Through rampant time travel, the audience sees Mirana, the White Queen, and Iracebeth, the Red Queen, as children. This helps to develop and deepen both characters. An accident that occurred in childhood explains Iracebeth’s large head and some of her actions, while the fact that Mirana unintentionally cause the accident gives her flaws and makes her a realer character. It doesn’t explain all of Iracebeth’s actions but does explain some of her motives.
Interestingly, despite the time travel and the interwoven viewing of younger and older versions of the same character, I felt that Alice Through the Looking Glass flowed much better than what Alice in Wonderland did. There was less repetition than was seen in Alice in Wonderland through the constant question of whether Alice was the ‘real’ Alice, and the pacing felt better. I think this was in part due to the fact that Alice goes back to the real world part way through the movie. This allows a certain parallel to exist between the worlds, that is Alice dealing with or doing something that was thought the be impossible, and allows her to grow as a character because the audience is able to see differing consequences for her growth at different parts of the movie.
I also found the ending to be much more enjoyable too. Mrs. Kingsleigh, Alice’s mother (Lindsay Duncan), became much more outwardly supportive of her daughter, which in turn causes her to make a decision at the end that goes against what society expected, which I think shows the influence Alice had on her because up until that point she appeared very concerned with what society’s expectations were.
Much like with the Alice in Wonderland the ending is advocating for people to follow their own path regardless of what society says, which I think is something that needs to be shown much more often than it usually is.
3.5 stars out of 5.