Beyond the Trailer: Through the Looking Glass (2016)

Alice in Through the Looking Glass (2016)
Disney is really taking advantage of the success of most of their live action movies.

While I admit that I wasn't the biggest fan of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, I would be lying if I said I hadn't been looking forward to this movie since they first announced it.

How could I miss watching anything resembling one of my all-time favorite stories? Even now, I still call the times I seem to daydream and disappear inside my head "My Wonderland."

Alice in Wonderland had always been a part of my childhood. Much like how the animated Cinderella influenced me as a child, Alice had done the same and probably in some ways maybe even more.

I knew it would be ridiculous to expect a faithful adaptation. It would be ridiculous to expect that, but I wanted something that I would at least enjoy. I didn't hate the first movie though and I don't think it was a bad movie, but it was not without flaws. The world building not being my type was probably another contributing factor of this.

Another reason for my curiosity of this film is the change of directors. Tim Burton didn't return to direct this movie. Instead, it is being directed by James Bobin. I haven't seen any of his other works, so I honestly didn't know what changes to expect but I was certainly expecting it.


Summary


Alice and her mother at her ex-almost fiance's party
The movie begins with Alice Kingsleigh, who is now a ship's captain, returning home after three years of travel. She finds out that her ex-fiance's father died who was one of the people who helped financed her travels, she had no choice but to meet with her ex-almost fiance as he had inherited his father's business. While uninvited, she and her mother attended his party to speak about her next travel. Wearing a brightly-colored, Asian-inspired outfit --- which she boasts to have worn to meet the Empress of China. She caught a lot of attention. Not all of them good, since many considered her a bit of an oddity.

However, she was met with horrible news. Her ex-almost fiance planned on getting his revenge for rejecting him all those years ago.

In order to get back her childhood home, she had to give up her father's ship. She was being forced to give up her position as captain to settle for a desk job working for her ex. Her mother thought it would be for the best as well since she thinks that life as a ship captain was too dangerous for her daughter.

Alice follows Absolum
Alice felt betrayed, finding out that her own mother didn't believe in her. Her father had always taught her to believe in six impossible things every day. While trying to leave the party, she sees a familiar butterfly and follows it to a room with a huge mirror on the mantle. The butterfly was Absolum, the former Caterpillar and he was there to tell her that the Hatter was in danger.

Absolum led her through the mirror, where she later finds herself in a room much like the one she left, except everything was big ---- from chairs, tables and chess pieces who have come alive. She was back in Wonderland.

After literally falling through the sky after going through a door, she meets most of her old friends, the White Rabbit, March Hare, the Tweedles, Bayard, Dormouse, Cheshire Cat and the White Queen, All of them were gathered together to talk about how to best help the Hatter. They told her that the Hatter had been acting odd since he found something that he believed to have been related to his family. His family was believed to have died when the Jabberwocky attacked a festival his family was in.

The Underlanders worry about the Hatter.
When she goes to meet him though, she seems to only make everything worse. In a matter of seconds, the Hatter began literally fading away. The White Queen makes a suggestion that she visits Time to change time and save the Hatter's family. Time had a device called, Chronosphere, that did just that. She would be the only person who can use it since they must not see any version of themselves through time.

Unfortunately, Time proved to be uncooperative and it didn't help that he was dating the Red Queen who was still unsurprisingly still after her head. While Time was distracted by the arrival of the Queen, Alice took this time to steal the Chronosphere.

The White Queen and Red Queen as princesses. 
She uses this to go back to the time Hatter was a young man. It was before the festival, White Queen and the Red Queen were celebrating their coronation. The scene  showed the peak of the one-sided rivalry between the two queens also Hatter's relationship with his father. Unfortunately, she wasn't able to change anything in that timeline so she decided to go to the root of the problem which was the beginning of the Red Queen's change during their childhood.

Meanwhile, Time arrived to take Alice and the Chronosphere back. He asked the Hatter, March Hare and Dormouse if they saw her. They only made fun of him and to punish them he trapped them in time where it would always be tea time.

Alice went back further in time to stop whatever tragedy happened between the sisters. There, we learn that as children, the Red Queen was blamed for something the White Queen did. The White Queen had eaten the tarts that their mother told them not to. The Red Queen ran out of the room in anger and this led to her accident that caused her head to be the size it was.

Alice in a mental hospital for hysteria.
Just as she was about to leap to another timeline, Time caught up with her. However, she managed to escape through the looking glass. This led her back home, but the people there thought she was losing her mind and took her to the asylum. She managed to escape with her mother's help and returned to Wonderland.

This time, she went back in time to find the Hatter's family was, indeed, alive and that they were captured by the Red Queen. Alice returned to tell Hatter the good news that his family was alive, but found him in the brink of death. In tears, she told him that she believed him and that she was sorry that she didn't believe him when he said that his family was alive. This rejuvenated the Hatter and together ---- he and his friends, even the queen ---- went to attack the Red Queen's castle.

Hatter finds his family inside an ant farm.
While they were able to find the Hatter's family trapped in an ant farm, they were easily captured by the Red Queen. She stole the Chronosphere and together with her sister went back in time to the time the White Queen lied about the tarts, despite Time's warning about meeting their past selves. Of course, the Red Queen didn't heed this. The moment her eyes met wither her younger self, time began to freeze. It would only be the return of the Chronosphere that can fix it.

They raced back to the present and only barely making it in time to return the Chronosphere. Time was restored and the Hatter was reunited with his family. Despite the trouble she caused, Time did forgive Alice but made it clear that he didn't want to see her again.

She bids farewell to her friends and returned home to face the reality that she might have to give up her father's ship. On the day she had to give up the ship, her mother bravely decided to stand by her daughter. They lost her family home, but they started their own shipping business together.

Characters


Alice Kingsleigh 

As always, I will start with the titular character. Alice is played by Mia Wasikowska, who is also Alice from the last movie. How ironic that my least favorite character from the last movie is now my favorite character in this one.

I had a difficult time liking Alice in the last movie because of her deadpan expressions. She seemed to have the same expression for when she was angry, confused, curious and afraid. If there was anyone I had the least expectations for, it would be her.

Much to my surprise, she proved me wrong by being one of the best things about the movie. I loved the development of her character. Her curiosity and belief of the impossible made her into an explorer/adventurer which is something closer to what I thought Alice would grow up to be than what was shown in the last movie.

If I was to be nitpicky, I'd probably say that I wished she had more costume changes. While I love the costumes in this movie, I loved the costumes of the last movie maybe a tad bit more.

Mad Hatter, Tarrant Hightopp

My friend and my's first eaction to the Hatter was, "Is he still played by Johnny Depp?"

We weren't sure because it felt like he was suddenly felt like a different person from the previous movie. We even waited for the credits to make sure. Sure enough, The Mad Hatter is played by Johnny Depp. There was just something different about this portrayal that we couldn't quite put our finger on. Maybe it is because he felt more cartoon-ish than I remember? It could also be because he has less screen time here than in the previous movie.

While I don't think his acting is bad, I have to admit that compared to his portrayal on the first movie this felt a little less charismatic.

I do appreciate though that they took out the weird romance angle of the first movie. Then again, maybe I am the only one who saw it as a romance angle. I didn't mind too much but I felt like it wasn't needed. It is just that this time it really does feel like friendship.

Red Queen, Iracebeth of Crims

Next, we have another familiar face. The Red Queen aka The Queen of Hearts played by Helena Bonham Carter. We last saw her banished from the kingdom by her own sister and the wear and tear was really beginning to show. She is dating Time apparently, but she seems to be only doing it to get access to the Chronosphere, which is a shame since he does seem to really like her. I guess he really didn't know what happened to the last person she dated ---- or married.

In this movie, we learn that her large head was due to an accident and where her cruelty began. While I think it is nice to see other sides of the queen's personality, I am just not sure how I feel about putting sense in a story that isn't supposed to make sense. At least not in the way that they had to shove the moral to your face. I guess this is where as an adaptation it fails, but as a movie I think it is fine. This is definitely a lot more family-friendly than the last film. We don't see the king's head floating in a moat. The "bloodiest" thing she did in this movie was eat a plant-person's nose.

White Queen, Mirana of Marmoreal

Anne returns as the White Queen and while I wasn't a fan of her portrayal last time, I think she did much better this time. She was able to play whimsical and the apologetic sister very well. I think the reason she played her character better this time is probably because she has more character this time around, but like I said about the Red Queen she makes a lot more sense than she is supposed to, which is not really a problem as a movie but a big adaptation flaw.

 One thing I really didn't get is the part where they stormed the Red Queen's castle. Where is her army? She is a queen and she went to storm her sister's base with a handful of Underlanders. I would have thought that the queen would have more protection than that, especially knowing her sister's love for head-chopping and the fact that she banished her. And her people were just alright with her going to a potentially dangerous situation? Without question?

If you're going to give this movie sense, they could have at least given this part sense.

Time

Now, for the new face. We have Time being played by Sacha Baron Cohen. I have to admit that he annoyed me at the beginning, but became surprisingly likable as the movie went on. I thought he played the character well despite everything. He did everything the character was expected to do.

He is the "Hatter" of this movie I think, which is funny since the Hatter is here too. Maybe it is because he made more appearances?

I still like the Hatter though --- but the Hatter from the first movie. Still, I don't dislike this character though and thought he was really fun. His seconds are really cute --- like mini-transformers, except they turn into minutes or hours.

Hours, minutes, seconds --- I can't decide to whether to think this is clever or not.

Costumes

Colleen Arwood Sketch

If there is one thing about the last movie that I loved, it was Alice's many costume changes. I was disappointed a little bit that she had fewer changes in this movie.

Even if people didn't like the movie, many of those people would probably still think that the costumes are still beautiful.

The costumes are done by Colleen Atwood, who had done the costumes for movies like Snow White and the Huntsman, Memoirs of a Geisha and Edward Scissorhands.

I will start with this movie's Alice's signature costume. She said that this was what she wore to meet a Chinese Empress. While I don't think this looks like any costume I would imagine Alice wearing in the books, I thought it was well-suited for this movie. Alice is a traveler who has seen the world, this does look like it had been Asian-inspired.

Final Outfit in the Movie. 
I call this her signature outfit because this is what she wears in almost every promotion. It is on the very first trailer, on the posters and she wore this for majority of her adventures in the movie.

I love the bright colors and the crazy mix of it does make me think of Wonderland. This is something the last movie lacked since the tone was a lot darker.This also turned out to be more practical since she was doing a lot of running and bouncing from one time to another.

There are some slight changes since their first draft of this costume, like the pattern at the bottom of the pants and the design for her collar. It looked like it was supposed to designed with a skirt too. The change to instead sport pants was a welcome touch though.

 This outfit also suits the change of not only the tone of this movie but Alice's new personality as an adventurer.

Conclusion


I suppose there are a lot of morals in the movie. It continues the "you can be whoever you want to be" theme from the last movie, which is not at all a bad lesson to teach children.

However, if you want a faithful adaptation, you will probably be disappointed which is probably good that I didn't expect it to be. The last movie was hardly faithful either. So, fans of the book shouldn't set their expectations of it resembling the book in the slightest and just think of it as its own story.

I can't say it is the "best" Wonderland-themed media out there, but I did enjoy the movie. I would still recommend fans to watch it. It is visually pretty even if the story is a bit uncertain about itself at times whether to make sense or not. Whether to be faithful to the feel of the book or the first movie.

Alice in Wonderland
Royal Ballet Poster
If you like this movie, I strongly recommend fans to also give the Royal Ballet's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" a chance. As a story, I also think that story-wise, they a better job being an adaptation while still trying to be its own thing.

It wasn't 100% faithful.  They made Alice older and they made their own love story subplot.  Carroll is portrayed here to be much more charming than he was and was also the White Rabbit of the story.  Actually, Carroll was a quiet scholar and his self-insert had been the Dodo, which he got from how he tries to pronounce his real name.  His name is Dodgson and he has a stutter when he talks..

 I also recommend Alice in Wonderland from 1986. In terms of being an adaptation, it isn't very accurate either.  They still portray Carroll as a Charming gentleman, Alice is again made much older.  The technology hasn't kept up yet to the story, but for the time though it was fine.  However, in terms of tone and pacing, it is how I pictured Alice in Wonderland to be and it is probably why I enjoy it so much.  It is a musical though so it is a little strange at times.

In the end, I am just glad I can get to see Wonderland again in a different spin.  So far, it hasn't really disappointed me in any version I have seen.  I even love 1903 version of it.  There is always something to love, whether it is the makeup, acting, tone or the cinematography.

What about you? What's your favorite Wonderland?

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