First of all, let me start off by saying that Alice in Wonderland is one of my favorite stories. I think I identify with it, and the Mad Hatter is one of my very very favorite characters. So be forewarned, I might gush, just a little.
Through the Looking Glass opens with a punch. Alice has been away at sea for quite some time, running her father’s ship as the captain. There’s a firefight and some amazing daredevil choices on Alice’s part, sucking you into the storyline right from the get-go. It’s a big dose of feminist power combined with the infamous “impossible things” quote.
For those of you who have read the book Through the Looking Glass, this isn’t it. There are some nods to the book like a brief scene with Humpty Dumpty, but other than that? Completely different story.
Alice comes home to England and some troubles, mostly surrounding Hamish, the guy she left in movie 1. He’s married now with a child and is a haughty mess of a man. Her mother is in a tought spot and Alice is caught between a rock and Hamish. Not an overly pleasant place to be, I would imagine. Alice and her splash of color are not really welcomed in a very grey world.
Then, amidst all this “real world” madness, she hears a voice. This voice, I was not expecting and it caught me off guard (and made me ugly cry a little): Alan Rickman voices Absalom the Caterpillar one last time, guiding Alice into her next big adventure through the mirror. Or looking glass, as it were.
Alice tumbles into a Wonderland a bit different from the one she left. Her friend Tarrant Hightopp (the Mad Hatter) is in decline, and the color is literally fading from his little corner of the world. (There’s an outstanding scene where you can watch the colors in his hair and his eyes shift with his emotions that is just stunning.)
Alice needs to save him.
And thus another level of Alice’s adventurous journey begins, as is the norm with most movies. Our heroine must save her friend while journeying through trials and tribulations, meeting up with Time (played by Sacha Baron Cohen in the “straightest” role I’ve ever seen him in, and accompanied by some really bad time jokes) and The Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter reprises her big head role).
The storyline might be a touch formulaic, but Tim Burton always takes his stories just a step further. This particular story is fleshed out with riotous color, almost dance-like movements, spot-on acting, and some gorgeous costumes. Seriously, I spent a whole scene not paying any attention to what was said and trying to figure out how I could replicate the Red Queen’s battle suit bodice for my Halloween costume. Weaving heart-wrenching moments with a heavy dose of backstory (you finally get to find out why the Red Queen’s head is SO BIG!), Through the Looking Glass is a visual spectacle of a movie that I am going to see again this weekend.
I never do that. I can count on one hand the number of movies I’ve seen twice in the theatres.
All in all, I highly recommend this movie. Not just because I LOVE LOVE LOVE Alice in Wonderland and the whole Disney franchise, but because the story is very compelling. Because I have a mad love for Johnny Depp’s portrayal of the Hatter. Because at one point, I could see the individual hairs on the Cheshire Cat move and wanted to pet him. Because who doesn’t love a good movie where friends help friends and people sort of live happily ever after?
And as I always say, SEE THIS MOVIE IN 3D IMAX (if you can). It’s a visceral experience, to almost believe you can reach out and touch the felt on the Mad Hatter’s hat. Or feel the mist from a crashing ocean wave on your face. Or get motion-sick when hurtling through an action scene. Some people may not like it, but the whole-body involvement in the RIGHT movie is unparalleled. Through the Looking Glass is a visually beautiful movie that will grab you right from the start.
We had the pleasure of attending a media screening a few days in advance of the movie release, and got to see the movie on IMAX 3D at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle. We were not otherwise compensated (even bought our own popcorn) and all opinions are mine. Images are courtesy of the Walt Disney Corporation and should not be otherwise distributed.