Six years ago, viewers witnessed 19-year-old Alice dive headfirst into Wonderland — or Underland, as Alice learns this magical land is actually called (as it turns out, she misheard the name as a child). Now, in the breathtaking sequel to Tim Burton’s 2010 film, director James Bobin elaborates on this tale of dark fantasy and transforms Alice into an older, wiser woman capable of making her own decisions.
“Alice Through the Looking Glass” gives a glimpse into a magical, thrilling adventure as Alice (Mia Wasikowska) sneaks into a mirror and ventures into Underland to find her friends — the White Queen (Anne Hathaway), the White Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat, and Tweedledee and Tweedledum — in trouble. Her companions confess that the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) is depressed because his family is in danger, and Alice attempts to go back in time and save them. She sneaks the Chronosphere from Time (Sacha Baron Cohen) and goes head to head with the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) in a fight to reunite her loved ones.
The intense scenes intertwined with comical lines leave viewers on the edge of their seats. Yet what makes this film stand out is Alice’s strong, independent character — she chooses to pursue a career in sailing and is driven by her passions. Although her mother and friends resent a lifestyle that entails living life on the edge, she lives by the motto of doing six things before breakfast. Her strong-willed character challenges common representations of women in the media.
“Alice Through the Looking Glass” not only examines one person’s ability to make a difference, but also looks at the conflict that can arise between family members because of misunderstandings. In Underland, Alice is surrounded by friends who understand her and her imagination. Yet, her mother has difficulty grasping why she has a passion for adventure and danger, consequently hindering her zest for the thrill of collecting experiences.
But just because family members fight doesn’t mean there isn’t any hope for mending these relationships. For example, the never-ending quarrels between the White Queen and the Red Queen resolve in a touching scene of forgiveness that is relatable for anyone with siblings. Despite the multitude of fights and misunderstandings, family is family and the love is always there.
In this sequel, Alice must make the difficult choice between what is worth fighting for and what she has to let go. She comes home from a sailing trip around the world to find that her mother is planning on selling the ship that belonged to her father. As she struggles with this startling news, trouble in Underland forces her to singlehandedly put away her fears and take on the challenge with a brave face.
As Alice goes back in time to save the Mad Hatter’s family, the intense animation alongside the movie’s soft exterior and 3D effects give aesthetic appeal to a story of loyalty and honor. Despite the danger that comes their way, Alice and her friends ultimately stick together — for example, even when the odds are not in their favor, Tweedledee and Tweedledum are by each other’s side. Alice’s compassion, softness in her words and ability to follow through with her promises create a movie that sheds light on the significance of being there for one another.
The director weaves together a beautiful tale of forgiveness and friendship with an underlying important theme said by Alice in the film: “The only way to achieve the impossible is to believe it is possible.” As Alice follows her dreams in this sequel, viewers are encouraged to use their imagination to go after something bigger than themselves while never losing sight of what truly matters.
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