Get pulled into another whimsical adventure as Alice sets out to save the Mad Hatter from the clutches of Time
By Pamela Chow; Photos: Courtesy of Disney
If you thought the first movie was trippy, things are about to take an even wackier turn. Three years after the events of Alice in Wonderland, Alice (Mia Wasikowska of Crimson Peak) chances across a magical looking glass that beckons her back to the fantastical realm of Underland.
Upon reuniting with her friends, Alice finds the madcap Hatter (Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean) even crazier than before. Obsessed with finding out the truth about his family he once thought had perished, Hatter is reaching his own breaking point.
To save her friend, Alice decides to travel to the past and change history. But turning back time will prove to be a challenging feat, even in the fantasy world of Underland.
Three years after the events of Alice in Wonderland, Alice (Mia Wasikowska) chances upon a magical looking glass that beckons her back to Underland.
Race against Time
If Time were a villain, what would it look like? Director James Bobin imagines it to be an eccentric creature that’s part-human, part-clock and portrayed by Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat and The Dictator). His appearance also bears a resemblance to surrealist artist Salvador Dali.
He holds the answer to Alice and the Hatter’s problem: the Chronosphere, an object that powers time in Underland. But when Time refuses to help Alice in her quest, the blonde-haired daredevil steals the Chronosphere — leading to a literal race against Time.
It’s a race against Time (Sacha Baron Cohen), from whom Alice steals a powerful object: the Chronosphere.
But director Bobin sets the record straight that Time isn’t the main antagonist. He said, “[Time] would appear to be bad at the beginning” but he is just a misunderstood character.
And because of this, Cohen was the perfect choice for the role. Bobin explained, “Sacha’s very good at playing characters who are both funny and vulnerable, and Time feels like that. Even though he’s all powerful and has this incredible ability to stop time and move time forward, he still is lonely.”
That may be because Time waits for no man, but he may just give a concession to our heroine, Alice.
Anne Hathaway (left) reprises her role as the mild-mannered and kind White Queen, who helps Alice (right) save Hatter and his family.
Alan Rickman’s last film
Joining Wasikowska, Depp and Cohen on this magical chase is an ensemble cast returning as iconic characters from Lewis Carroll’s beloved classics. Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables) reprises her role as the mild-mannered and kind White Queen. Her estranged older sister, the Red Queen, is again portrayed by the inimitable Helena Bonham Carter (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street).
Also in the fore is the sagely and snobbish blue caterpillar Absolem, which is the final film role (voice appearance) of the late thespian Alan Rickman. For this, Alice Through the Looking Glass is reportedly dedicated in his memory. Rickman’s last screen appearance was in British thriller Eye in the Sky (2015).
Alice meets friends and enemies, old and new, on a journey back in time to save Hatter.
A surrealist’s dream
Inspired by the psychedelic backdrop of Carroll’s original story, Alice Through the Looking Glass takes the whimsy of Underland to the next level with shifting landscapes and absurd encounters at every turn.
Glimpses of this can be caught in the trailer, where Alice shimmies along the hands of a humongous clock. In this universe, it seems reasonable to believe in as many as six impossible things before breakfast.
Fans may also appreciate some semblance of familiarity and sense in this surreal world. During her journey to the past, Alice meets her friends and enemies at other stages of their lives, and viewers will discover the origins of these bizarre characters, such as how the Red Queen’s head got so big.
Find out how the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) got her oversized head in this sequel to Alice in Wonderland.
Whether you’re searching for answers to Underland’s biggest mysteries, supporting your favourite actors among the stellar cast or catching Rickman’s swan song, Alice Through the Looking Glass looks set to be a fun visual treat for the whole family.
Alice Through the Looking Glass [PG]
Director: James Bobin
Starring: Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Mia Wasikowska, Helena Bonham Carter & Sacha Baron Cohen
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy
Run length: 113 min
Release: 6 Jul 2016
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of Weekender, Issue 156, July 8 – July 21, 2016, with the headline ‘Into the looking glass’.