Alice Through the
Looking Glass [Blu-Ray]
Release Date: October 18, 2016
Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Anne Hatahway, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen
Director: James Bobin
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
Genre(s): Fantasy, Family
I’ve got what may be an unpopular opinion to share with you all: I’m not generally the biggest Johnny Depp or Tim Burton fan. But it’s hard to deny the charm of Disney’s revamped, live action remake of Alice in Wonderland. The story is a bit of a departure from the classic animated Disney film but still manages to be fairly quirky and entertaining.
And where Alice in Wonderland had the distinction of kicking off Disney’s increasingly impressive series of live action remakes of all it’s classic, beloved properties then Alice Through the Looking Glass should be recognizing for being Disney’s first sequel to one of those films. Unlike the bulk of it’s live action films as of late, though, Through the Looking Glass has no animated predecessor. Disney never tried to make a sequel to the old school film and this marks Disney’s first attempt to bring this particular Lewis Carroll title to life. (Pretty cool, right? The things you learn from the special features!)
Of course, it’s mostly brought to live simply in name. The final story has little to do with the book’s plot and instead sees Alice returning to Wonderland to save the Hatter from his own madness. Crippled with depression after being reminded of the loss of his family, Hatter becomes convinced that they are alive and asks Alice to find them for him. She takes that to mean that she needs to go back in time to rescue them which puts her on the bad side of Time himself.
We bounce around quite a bit through time and ultimately the movie serves as something of a prequel as well as a sequel. It explains the origins of not only the Hatter but Iracebeth and her sister as well as a few of the secondary characters. It’s quite endearing to see a young Hatter and to see how he became the man we all know from the first film. There ends up being such a strong emphasis on family in this film and you get to see love eventually transcend all sorts of wrongs and relationships. It’s quite touching at times.
Through the Looking Glass also focuses a bit more on what’s going on with Alice in the real world than it’s predecessor did. At the end of the first movie, Alice went on to become an apprentice in her father’s company and by the beginning of Through the Looking Glass she’s gone on to become a great ship’s captain in her own right. Of course, the men she’s left behind can’t have a woman in such a powerful position and so they try to force her out of it. She’s pressured to become more like a lady. But where Alice’s mother has been trying to get her to be more ladylike, throughout the film we see her realizing, too, that women can do much more than just be housewives and it’s a powerful message to send – especially now.
Over all, it’s a very enjoyable film especially for those who can appreciate the madness.
One of the easiest things to appreciate, though, about Alice in Wonderland – and now Alice Through the Looking Glass – will always be the cast.
There are some pretty incredible people working in this series both on screen and in voice overs. Sacha Baron Cohen plays a fantastic new character, Time, while so many of our old favorites return to reprise their roles from the first movie. Mia Wasikowska is enchanting and of course no one but Johnny Depp could quite pull off the Hatter. Through the Looking Glass also has the distinction of being Alan Rickman’s last film. He once again provided the voice of Abselom and the film is dedicated to his memory.
Fans of Alice in Wonderland won’t be disappointed by this home release. Disney did the special features right and they are mostly well worth watching. There are a few you could skip but for the most part they’re short, decent featurettes that are quick and easy to watch and enjoy.
The longest and most comprehensive featurette is Behind the Looking Glass, an eight-and-a-half minute behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film. For it’s short length it’s quite comprehensive. The filmmakers talk a lot about how they developed the story looking at both past Disney adaptations of Lewis Carroll’s works and the original stories. They talk about how the characters were developed and we get to learn things like how Time’s character was extrapolated from a single line in the original Alice in Wonderland book. The actors also talk a bit about playing their characters. As you can imagine, with Johnny Depp and Sacha Baron Cohen both in the film there were some pretty hilarious, ad libbed moments!
A Stitch in Time: Costuming Wonderland and the Characters of Underland featurettes both go a bit further in exploring the film making process. In particular, A Stitch in Time talks about what went into costuming the various kooky characters of Alice Through the Looking Glass while the Characters of Underland talks a bit more about the development of both our well-known characters a well as the secondary characters (like the Seconds and Minutes) that were developed for this particular film.
Both are a little under five minutes long but together provide a lot of meaningful insight into the film. Characters of Underland in particular is a great place for fans of the film to start out. It goes into some of the background of why certain characters were developed as they were – like how and why the Dormouse from the book gets a gender-swapped make over for the live action film series.
Special effects fans are going to enjoy the Scene Peelers featurette. I like the title “Scene Peelers” and I hope that we see more of these in other film releases. The majority of these new live action films rely heavily on CGI and it’s so cool and crazy to see how it all works. This featurette shows multiple views of a particular scene – one before CGI is added, one after CGI is added, and a few different partially-animated views as well. One minute people are running around on a blue screen jumping on to random things and interacting with plain, blue objects. But then in the film they end up being something else entirely. This particular Scene Peelers focuses on a scene early in the movie immediately after Alice returns to Wonderland and it’s a really great scene for showing just how much CGI does to bring films to life.
If you didn’t know it before this blu-ray release, P!nk’s Just Like Fire was developed for this film and it plays during the initial film credits. So naturally they went all out in creaking the Just Like Fire music video. The video on the home release is the same as the VEVO video above but Disney takes things one step further and also gives us as really cool behind-the-scenes featurette to go along with it.
The music video itself is full of all kinds of Alice in Wonderland inspired moments and Alice Through the Looking Glass cameos. But there’s a lot of really neat stuff to learn from the behind-the-scenes featurettte. For example, P!nk’s real-life daughter and husband both feature prominently in the music video. How cool is that? Who doesn’t want to have a tea party with their daughter and the Mad Hatter?
As for the rest of the special features, you can take them or leave them.
While deleted scenes are usually my favorite parts of a film, the Alice Through the Looking Glass scenes were underwhelming. James Bobin provides commentary on them and it’s clear they were cut for a reason – mostly because they generally did little to add to the plot and did more to drag things out unnecessarily. Bobin also does a full commentary if you’re interested. He seems like a really cool guy and so I imagine he gives a pretty awesome director’s commentary. Lastly, there is one other special feature called Time On which is basically just an in-character interview with Sacha Baron Cohen as Time. Cute, yes. Super short? Also yes.
I watched Alice in Wonderland for the very first time about a week ago so I could understand what was going on in Alice Through the Looking Glass. I know, I know. I waited a really long time to watch it. That said, watching both films for the very first time so close together really added to my enjoyment of the series as a whole. I highly recommend you re-watch Alice in Wonderland if you haven’t done so in a while before you watch Through the Looking Glass. While they take place a few years apart and new viewers could easily pick up the storyline starting with Through the Looking Glass based on a general knowledge of the original materials, it makes the story feel so much more meaningful.
It also helps you gain a greater appreciation for the films by immersing yourself in them. As a first time viewer, I was pleasantly surprised by the quirkiness of the story and also the set design, costuming, and cast. If nothing else, they are incredibly good looking films.
Alice Through the Looking Glass is a must-see film for fans of Johnny Depp and Sacha Baron Cohen – and also fans of Alan Rickman. If you do pick it up, it’s available today on DVD and blu-ray. As always, I highly recommend picking up the blu-ray combo pack. You get the DVD, blu-ray, and Digital HD copies of the film which are awesome to have. If you’re not redeeming your movies on Disney Movies Anywhere you’re missing out!