Today is my birthday! I’m turning 20 today and it feels kind of strange to leave the teenager-years behind me. That said, I guess I’m now “in my twenties”, as they say. Whether I’m now “in my twenties” or not, the birthday traditions from my youth are still very much intact and one of them has everything to do with today’s article. Every year on my birthday, my Mom would sing the Un-Birthday Song from the original 1951’s “Alice in Wonderland”. And what would be more suitable than a review of “Alice Through The Looking Glass” (2016)?
In 2010, visionary director Tim Burton brought the story of how Alice fell down the rabbit hole back to the silver screen. The film, starring Mia Wasikowska as the blond heroine of the story and Johnny Depp as the charismatic Mad Hatter, became a great success and thus a sequel was put into motion. Six years later, “Alice Through The Looking Glass” is finally here. We start with Alice Kingsleigh coming home from her journey around the world, when once more she is drawn back to the magical Underland. Here, she is greeted by her friends, the March Hare, the Cheshire Cat and the White Queen, who tell Alice the Mad Hatter is terribly ill. To cure him, Alice has to do the impossible: travel back in time to save the Hatter’s family.
The first and foremost aspect to praise is how gorgeous “Alice Through The Looking Glass” looks. The colors are deliciously vibrant, the costumes and make-up are incredibly creative and quirky, and the special effects are incredibly realistic and fantastic. The visuals are so stunning and so beautifully crafted, it’s hard to look away from the screen. When Alice travels through the sea of time, you’re right there with her, flying over the wild waves and the colorful memories hiding beneath the surface. Everything is designed with so much eye for detail, from the flowery details on Alice’s kimono to the sparkles in the big blue eyes of the Cheshire Cat. As a viewer, you really notice how much time and love was put into the creation of the look and feel of the film, which makes viewing the film feel like such a treat.
The cast, for the biggest part containing out of the same stars from “Alice in Wonderland” (2010). The young Mia Wasikowska again takes on the role of Alice and does this with the same devotion and feeling for the character as she did before. She looks like a porcelain doll, with her pale skin, blonde curls and brown eyes, but her character is vibrant, head-strong and curious. Johnny Depp returns as the kind and nutty Mad Hatter, and once again, he shines. The actor’s been negatively featured in the news lately because of his divorce from Amber Heard, which might have influenced the film’s underperformance at the box office, but all differences set aside: Depp does what he does best in “Alice Through The Looking Glass”, playing eccentric, whimsical and, at times, very vulnerable characters. The Mad Hatter he portrays, is sweet and funny, with a child-like innocence and a little bit of a dark side. Just forget about all the tabloid articles headlining Depp while watching “Alice Through The Looking Glass”, and you’ll certainly enjoy the actor’s wonderful performance.
Another wonderful performance is given by a newcomer the cast, Sacha Baron Cohen. The actor, perhaps infamously known for his portrayal of Borat and Brüno, stars as the personification of Time in “Alice Through The Looking Glass”. In the film, Alice has to steal Time’s chronosphere, so she can travel back in history and save the Mad Hatter’s family from the Jabberwocky’s gruesome attack. Surrounded by all the whimsicalness and mad characters, Cohen as Time is something else entirely. He is mysterious and a little bit dark, so the audience never quite knows whether Alice should trust the machine-like man. Cohen brings a certain seriousness to the character of time, with which he offers the audience a sturdy hand to guide them through all the silliness and mind-boggling imagery. The creates a good balance between Depp’s mad and Helena Bonham Carter’s dramatically grotesque performances.
Cohen’s character ties into the most important message of the film. Time is often accused of taking back what is his and of robbing us of our precious moments, but “Alice Through The Looking Glass” aims to show its audience that time is also given to us and that we should be spent is carefully and thankfully. It’s a beautiful and also very truthful message, and it is visualized and personified in a way that is just as beautiful and truthful.
In short, “Alice Through The Looking Glass” is a beautiful and entertaining film, with splendid (and in some cases, surprising) performances, gorgeous visuals and a lovely message. So what if one of the film’s biggest stars is headlining tabloids or if the plot is not that great, “Alice Through The Looking Glass” is bewitchingly beautiful and entertaining, a treat for your eyes and a fun night out.