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Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016) – Another Tim Burton Classic With a Surprising Cameo



When I saw the 2010 adaption of Alice in Wonderland, I walked away having thoroughly enjoyed its playful imagination. While Alice in Wonderland is one of the most famous fables in children’s literature, Lewis Carroll’s books weren’t a part of my childhood. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the popular animated film with the Disney brand. But considering the live-action remake blended the Victorian era and steampunk culture, the combination was too great to resist. This is why a sequel reuniting our favorite and spunky titular heroine with her Wonderland friends was pure delight.


A few years have passed since Alice Kingsleigh (Mia Wasikowska) discovered Wonderland, and in the process, she recaptured her “muchness.” In that time, she returned to England where she assumed the command of her father’s ship as its Captain. Now, Captain Alice Kingsleigh returns to London after spending those four years at sea. Much has changed in her absence.

Most notable among these changes are the complications a business deal involving her mother (Lindsay Duncan) has raised. Then, shortly thereafter, she is summoned back to Wonderland on urgent business. Once she returns, Alice finds her dear friend, Hatter (Johnny Depp) has fallen into a dark depression, and soon after, the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) again threatens Wonderland’s existence.

As with every film that puts Tim Burton in the director’s chair, this one displays the unique trademarks as only his work can. His cinematic imagination is incredible. Even if I were to watch this ten times over, I don’t think I’d pick up on all of the nuances and touches that truly make Burton’s Wonderland spring to life. The details of this world are jaw-dropping, and the creative way it awakens is brilliance. Another incentive to watch this film is the talented primary cast returning to their roles.

For me, everyone in this cast is perfection. I thought Mia gave more to the role of Alice in this sequel than she did in the original film. Whether it’s because she “settled” into the role or the script gave her more to work with, I don’t know. She and Depp have a unique and captivating chemistry that keeps us glued to the screen. In addition to Mia, Johnny and Helena, Anne Hathaway (Mirana, the White Queen) and Alan Rickman (Absolem) return. Plus, we meet newcomers Time (Sasha Baron Cohen) and James Harcourt played by Ed Speleers (Downton Abbey).

Not only do we reunite with and meet these fascinating characters, we also see Hattie Morahan (Sense & Sensibility), Andrew Scott (Sherlock) in a brief role. Not to mention, Richard Armitage. Needless to say, no matter the shamefully short screen time he has, I was a squealing fangirl when I realized the person underneath the crown was none other than Mr. Thornton. Call me biased, but obviously, I thought he deserved a greater role.


Moving beyond my delight of fandoms colliding, the fact is this: ‘Through the Looking Glass’ is an impressive masterpiece. The script captures the delight Alice experiences when returning to Wonderland. The message wrapped inside this is a precious one. Alice’s journey is all about “time.” Revisiting the past, and discovering the present. Time (both as an entity and the character) has a chasm of wisdom to impart, and though she’s blind to it early on, Alice comes to learn the value of it. It’s a gift, it cannot be altered or bought. Time is the one thing we should cherish because without it, life is joyless.

Visually, this is a masterpiece. The CGI is stunning and of course, the settings, a spark of creative genius. What’s more, the costuming is gorgeous. Alice, in particular, wears some neat ensembles. Her clothing is a unique blend of steampunk and Victorian that not only suits her as a character but the period as well. It’s a rare talent that can combine both an attractive look that also fits the story. This one surpasses expectations.

If you like fantasy or unique fairy tales, see Alice Through the Looking Glass without haste. It’s been a while since I saw Alice in Wonderland, so I cannot say for sure, but my memory suggests I liked this sequel every bit as much as it if not more than its prequel. The film recaptures a special magic infrequent in films today. As if that weren’t enough, it also reminds us of the importance of family. The heroine is feisty and fierce with an independent streak probably not entirely realistic to this time period yet we don’t care. We’re having too much fun getting lost in one of her adventures for it to really matter.


Content Note: Aside from some “frightening” fantasy images, this PG film contains nothing offensive.

Photos: Disney

This review first appeared on Silver Petticoat Review
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Rissi
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  1. Wonderful review, I really enjoyed reading it! I was also quite a fan of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland and was always surprised to find out that so many people did not. I've yet to watch Alice Through the Looking Glass (!!), but I have been dying to, and your review is definitely encouraging me to do so soon. :)

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    1. Thank you for visiting and taking the time to read it, Jordan. I appreciate that. :)

      Really!? I though 'Alice' was creative and perfectly suited for Burton's talents. The story is ideal for his cinematic visions. 'Looking Glass' is really quite good, Jordan, and I do think, perhaps I liked it better than the first. I'd love to know what you think when you see it! :)

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  2. I actually started the first one at a hotel while I was on a short trip with my sisters last week. Surprisingly, I was really enjoying it until the time I had to stop and get some sleep! I have the finish the first and watch this one - sounds just as good! Thanks for the amazing review, Rissi! And oh my goodness, Mr. Thornton is in it?!? All the more reason to watch. :)

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    1. Let me know if/when you finish the first and see this one, Bekah; I feel like these are the perfect stories for Burton's creative genius and as such, the talent that goes into them is evident. This one is indeed as good - if not better, than its prequel.

      (And YES! I turned into a nutty fangirl when I realized this - all while watching it! ;D)

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  3. I actually can not believe I have not seen this yet! We've watched the first one several times over and so I know I will love this one. Great review!

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    1. YAY! Hope you enjoy, Tressa. It's so much fun, and of course, the vibrancy and colors are perfectly "Alice." Let me know what you think if/when you see this one. :)

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  4. I really want to see this movie. I enjoyed the 2010 story, even though I've never much cared for Alice in Wonderland. And Richard Armitage and Alan Rickman!!!! AAAAAAAHHHH!!!!!

    Great review, Rissi!! :)

    ~Liv
    oliviakfisher.blogspot.com

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    1. Hope you enjoy, Olivia! It really is a whimsical and fabulous production, and in my opinion better than its sequel. Also, it helps that Armitage makes an appearance albeit far too brief. Let me know what you think if you see it. :)

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  5. I'm not liking Johnny Depp too much these days, but I absolutely adore Mia Wasikowska, so I will definitely be seeing this. Alice was one of my favorite books growing up. Nothing can compare to the book, but Tim Burton comes pretty close!

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    1. He's never been my favorite actor, Kate, but he is fabulous in a role like this or the Pirates franchise. Mia is one I like fine depending on the role. She's actually MUCH better in this sequel than the first one.

      I've not read the book (or not that I remember), but knowing the gist of the story suggests to me there's no one more suited than Burton to put these together. The imaginative details are off the charts amazing. :)

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