Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland is one of the all-time best fantasy movies, in the same league as Peter Jackson’s Tolkien films. Rarely has any classic book been adapted so well to the big screen. This year’s sequel, Alice Through the Looking Glass, is even better. Nothing is better than being surprised by an extraordinary new fantasy film. Looking Glass features the original top-notch class plus new characters, an exciting time travel tale, more of Academy Award winning costume designer Colleen Atwood’s lavish costumes, and brilliant visual effects. This time The Muppets and The Muppets Most Wanted’s James Bobin has taken over directing reins for Burton. Changing from Burton’s signature look and feel of creepy darkness for an almost bright and shiny Doctor Who-inspired universe makes for a movie that truly stands apart from the original and on its own footing.
Mia Wasikowska’s Alice was a girl when we last left her, making the adult decision to leave behind an arranged marriage. Now she is a mature young woman, a sea captain leading her father’s ship. The girl who doesn’t like the word “impossible” is confronted with an unfortunate decision to live the life she has chosen or give it all up for her mother. Thankfully, Absolem, voiced by Alan Rickman in his final performance, leads her into a mirror where she returns to Underland. Unanswered mysteries from the first film are revealed as Alice begins a new quest to help her old friend the Mad-Hatter, even no more mad than ever before. Her journey is a classic fantasy quest, where she confronts a fantastic new character: Time itself, expertly played by Sasha Baren Cohen.
If you’re looking for an escape from reality this week, this is for you. Alice is an oppressed woman of the past who pulls herself up by her own bootstraps to eliminate those around her who would keep her down. Wasikowska, superb as the girl in the original and as the lead in Guillermo del Toro’s haunting Crimson Peak, is still the perfect Alice. And Johnny Depp, the greatest actor of his generation, continues to dazzle as the enormously likeable and sympathetic Hatter.
Again, the entire team of characters are back, including Helena Bonham Carter’s Red Queen and Anne Hathaway’s White Queen, taking center stage in Looking Glass’s key conflict. Incorporating bits and pieces of classic stories as was done in the original film, we see a fully-played out Humpty Dumpty pushed off the wall by Alice and the King’s horses and men attempting to re-assemble him. All the activity surrounds Alice, who moves in and out of a well-written time travel voyage–time travel may never have been filmed with such alluring cinematography thanks to Stuart Dryburgh (Aeon Flux, The Piano, Lone Star, The Ray Bradbury Theater). Danny Elfman’s thunderous, raucous score drives the movie home.
Every fan of fantasy movies will want to see this one. It belongs on everyone’s top ten fantasy list. Check out Alice Through the Looking Glass now on Blu-ray here at Amazon.com.