Alice Through the Looking Glass 2016 | Movie Review

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🎥 Cinematography by Stuart Dryburgh

👗 Costumes by Colleen Atwood

🎬 Directed by James Bobin

🎞 Edited by Andrew Weisblum

🎼 Music by Danny Elfman

📋 Produced by Jennifer & Suzanne Todd, Joe Roth, & Tim Burton

📝 Screenplay by Linda Woolverton

🌟 S T A R R I N G

🦋 Alan Rickman as Absolem

👨🏻‍⚕️ Andrew Scott as Dr. Addison Bennett

👑 Anne Hathaway as Mirana / The White Queen | Amelia Crouch as Young Mirana

🐭 Barbara Windsor as Mallymkun / The Dormouse

🚢 Ed Speleers as James Harcourt

🐟 Edward Petherbridge as Gentleman Fish

👩🏻‍🦰 Eve Hedderwick Turner as Baloo Hightopp

👨🏻‍🦰 Frederick Warder as Poomally Hightopp

🌹 Geraldine James as Lady Ascot

👸🏼 Hattie Morahan as Queen Elsemere

♥️ Helena Bonham Carter as Iracebeth / The Red Queen | Leilah de Meza as Young Iracebeth

👱🏻 Joanna Bobin as Alexandra Ascot

👨🏻‍🦰 Joe Hurst as Bim Hightopp | Oliver Hawkes as a Young Bim Hightopp

🎩 Johnny Depp as Tarrant Hightopp / The Mad Hatter | Louis Ashbourne Serkis as Young Tarrant Hightopp

💍 Leo Bill as Lord Hamish Ascot

👩🏼‍🦱 Lindsay Duncan as Mrs. Kingsleigh

👬🏼 Matt Lucas as Tweedledee & Tweedledum

🤖 Matt Vogel as Wilkins

🥬 Meera Syal as Nobody

👩🏼 Mia Wasikowska as Alice Kingsleigh

🐇 Michael Sheen as Nivens McTwisp / The White Rabbit

🐸 Owain Rhys Davies as Delivery Frog

♟ Paul Hunter as White Chess King

🐰 Paul Whitehouse as Thackery Earwicket / The March Hare

👨🏻‍🦰 Rhys Ifans as Zanik Hightopp

🤴🏻 Richard Armitage as King Oleron

🕰 Sacha Baron Cohen as Time

👩🏻‍🦰 Siobhan Redmond as Bumalic Hightopp

👩🏻‍🦰 Simone Kirby as Tyva Hightopp

🐱 Stephen Fry as The Cheshire Cat

🐕 Timothy Spall as Bayard Hamar | Kyle Hebert as Young Bayard

👨🏻‍🦰 Tom Godwin as Pimlick Hightopp

🥚 Wally Wingert as Humpty Dumpty

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The next Disney movie on my review list is Alice Through the Looking Glass from 2016, a sequel to the live action remake of Alice of Wonderland. This was my 2nd viewing:

•  ⚠️  •  ⚠️  •  ⚠️  •  ⚠️  •  ⚠️  •  S  P  O  I  L  E  R  S  •  A  H  E  A  D  •  ⚠️  •  ⚠️  •  ⚠️  •  ⚠️  •  ⚠️  •

The castle intro isn’t themed, but after the fireworks go off, the camera pans up to the sky where Cheshire Cat’s blue eyes & wide grin appear. After a few seconds his eyes disappear, & his grin goes vertical, transforming into the moon. Down below on a stormy sea we see a ship named “Wonder” & its captain Miss Alice Kingsleigh. I really like how the end of the first movie connects to the beginning of the second movie. Alice sees Absolem, now a blue butterfly, as she’s sailing away from London for China at the end of Alice in Wonderland. In Alice Through Looking Glass, she sails back to London from China & sees Absolem when she arrives.

Alice’s main dress reflects her recent travels to China. I’m not sure how culturally accurate it is, but after one Google search I know it’s received praise for the design. Unfortunately I’m in the minority. I don’t hate the design completely, but the mix of colors & patterns is a bit much for me, especially the collar & pants. The purple bodice/dress is my favorite part which is why I like the ensemble much better when the collar’s removed.

The title is taken from the book “Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, but the movie isn’t a direct adaptation, focusing more on the character Time & time travel. One of the biggest book references is an early scene in which Alice steps through a mirror & finds herself on a mantel in a study. Now small in size, she slides down a nearby rope & lands in the middle of a chess game. Startled she backs into Humpty Dumpty who falls off the desk & breaks. The white chess king orders all his horses & all his men to put the pieces back together.

“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall: Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the King’s horses and all the King’s men couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty in his place again.”

Hatter is a major character in this story so we see him quite a bit. When Alice arrives in Wonderland, she visits his house which is shaped like a giant hat. I’m a sucker for details like that!

The character Time was written with Sacha Baron Cohen in mind so it makes sense that his humor, censored for children of course, is on full display. He wasn’t a straight villain but rather took a journey with twists & turns to keep the audience guessing. Unfortunately his story arc was muddled & never gripped me. Just to be fair, I should mention that I’ve never been a huge fan of Sacha. Even if I was, I don’t think this would be my favorite movie role of his. I don’t mind goofiness when it’s done well, but on this occasion it was not.

• Even though I wasn’t 100% convinced by the time travel element, I did like the prequel Wonderland scenes. It was fun to see all the familiar characters when they were young & learn some background information about why they turned out the way they did, specifically Hatter, Iracebeth, & Mirana. Speaking of the royal sisters, we get introduced to their parents who should look very familiar. Queen Elsemere is played by Hattie Morahan, the same actress who portrayed Agathe/The Enchantress in the live action Beauty and the Beast. King Oleron is Richard Armitage. If you don’t know that name, we can’t be friends. 😂 Listen, I’m a simple girl. If you cast Richard Armitage in a film, even for just a few minutes of screen time, there’s a good chance my review will improve. 😍

One of Iracebeth’s traits that’s explained thanks to time travel is her hate of white roses. Following the accident that causes her head to swell, she sees white roses & immediately mutters “Stupid roses!” She doesn’t like them because they’re associated with a horrible memory.

• This is a good time to talk about pacing. The story seems to rush but also drag for two hours. There’s never a point when everything clicks & starts to flow. A good example is the asylum scene: Alice accidentally leaves Wonderland & ends up in an asylum, only to escape right away & go back to her time travel adventures in Wonderland. I understand the intent, but that scene is abrupt & doesn’t fit in what’s an already mismatched puzzle.

• I’m not sure if this criticism is accurate so please take it with a grain of salt. I’ve seen many complaints about Hatter’s wardrobe, but my complaint has to do with what’s on his face: Makeup! I like the creative direction, but something in the second film feels off, like it’s not as well done as in Alice in Wonderland. To be more specific, the contouring with pink powder is inconsistent; it looks in bad in some scenes & fine in others. I know Hatter is supposed to look garish, but that doesn’t mean the makeup should draw the eye & have you questioning whether or not it looks right. To balance out the negative with the positive, I’ll mention his red safari outfit which I did like.

• For those curious about the Knave of Heart’s fate, this film gives us an answer. In Alice in Wonderland, Iracebeth is open with her feelings for the Knave, but it’s implied that he doesn’t reciprocate. When Mirana banishes the Red Queen from Wonderland handcuffed to her “true love,” he first tries to kill her, an attempt thwarted by Hatter, & then begs for death. He obviously started banishment on the wrong foot because we get a quick glance at his dead body in the second film. There was obviously some trouble in paradise!

• One of the few moments that made me feel emotional came at the very end. Besides Hatter, the story focuses on the relationship between sisters Iracebeth & Mirana. Iracebeth has always despised Mirana because she thought she hated her. Mirana did tell a lie that led to Iracebeth’s accident, but she never did anything to her sister out of hate, just selfishness. Every time she says “I love you,” she means it. After all the time travel shenanigans are over & done with, Mirana once again looks her sister in the eye & says “I love you.” It seems like Iracebeth hears her sister’s words & believes them for the very first time. I didn’t cry, but tears did start to form. The goodbye between Alice & Hatter was also very sweet. 💕

• I really like Alice’s new look featuring short hair & a white ship captain’s uniform. She gives me Captain Amelia (from Treasure Planet) vibes! I also like that she reconnects with her mother, & they go into business as a two-woman team. Girl power!

• As an art blogger, it wouldn’t be right for me to ignore the lovely mix of character illustrations & paper art in the closing credits. I saw it. I acknowledge it. I approve! 👍🏻 Our faithful butterfly friend Absolem flies us through the credits which end with a tribute to Alan Rickman who passed away in January 2016. This was his final film role, released posthumously. 🦋

💬 Closing Thoughts: This movie wasn’t as bad as I remembered from my first viewing, but it still isn’t a masterpiece. The same brilliant cast returned for this second helping of Wonderland, but they were let down by too much spectacle & not enough substance. There weren’t enough endearing moments to make me feel invested in what was happening. The story drags to the point that you’re watching for the sake of reaching the end. Never a good sign! Tim Burton returned as well, but he was a producer rather than the director. Some may disagree, but I think that was the first misstep & a sign of things to come.

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🍅 Rotten Tomatoes: 29% Critics | 48% Audience

🏆 Major Awards: Best Song Written For Visual Media Grammy nomination (Just Like Fire – Max Martin, Oscar Holter, Pink & Shellback)

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Alice in Wonderland 2010 | Movie Review

Maleficent 2014 | Movie Review

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The Jungle Book 2016 | Movie Review

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🎥 Stay tuned for another movie review tomorrow! 🍿 

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