Darker and more emotional than Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” is director James Bobin’s “Alice Through the Looking Glass.” In and out of Underland, Alice escapes from a mental institution by sticking a mentally twisted doctor with the injection he had planned for her. And yes, Wonderland’s actual name is Underland.
In the opening scene we see that Alice is living her dream as a seafaring captain of her deceased father’s ship. Alice returns home to find her mother attempting to coerce Alice into quitting the sea, to live like a proper Victorian lady. Absalom, a talking butterfly from Underland, finds Alice and guides her back to Underland, through a magic mirror. She helps the Mad Hatter find his family, whom he had until now presumed to be dead. She travels through time to find, and eventually rescue the Hatter’s family. She learns that you cannot change time, but you can learn from it. She returns to her mother in Victorian England, and forgives her mother for taking away her father’s ship. It’s just a ship, she says; family is what really matters. Of course Alice’s mother, inspired by her daughter’s love, changes her mind and keeps the ship for Alice
“Alice Through the Looking Glass” is a loose interpretation of the book with use of very liberal creative license. The movie draws some elements from the other book, “Alice in Wonderland,” like the reason the Mad Hatter and his friends are stuck at tea time. They wronged Time, who is a man-clock played by Sacha Baron Cohen.
Time and Iracabeth, The Red Queen, played by Helena Bonham Carter, are romantically involved. Iracabeth wants his gadget, called the chronosphere, to go back in time and change the past. When she and her sister, Mirana, The White Queen, were young, Mirana lied to her mother about who ate the last cookie. Their mother scolded Iracabeth, who then ran out of the castle, slipped in the snow and hit her head. Her head swelled to its now comically large size, and she began hearing voices. Iracabeth wants to go back in time to make her younger sister tell the truth. In the end of the film, Mirana asks for Iracabeth’s forgiveness and the sisters reconcile. This scene is really touching: Anne Hathaway, who plays Mirana, The White Queen, portrays a lot of emotion with her face. Her hands, however, wiggled and fluttered through the whole movie, in an attempt at the fairy-tale-princess style. It felt unnatural almost to the point of being comical. It may have been the director’s intention to make the otherwise wonderful White Queen not appear too perfect.
Tim Burton did not direct the sequel, but he did produce the film. According to Burton, in an interview with Collider entertainment news, Burton made himself available to provide advice for director James Bobin, but did not interfere with Bobin’s work.
Director James Bobin created, wrote and directed the very popular, but short-lived series, “Flight of the Conchords.” He also directed and wrote for the Sacha Baron Cohen’s series, “Da Ali G Show.”
“Alice Through the Looking Glass” is in theaters now.