Amongst the many sequels, spin-offs and franchise movements that Disney is navigating through this year, one of the most interesting is the return to the world of Alice in Wonderland, titled Alice Through the Looking Glass, a sequel to the 2010 Tim Burton-directed film that has been six years in the making. This time with new director James Bobin at the helm as well, it’s looking like a noticeable improvement over its predecessor.
Recently as well, I was invited with a group of journalists to see some exclusive, never-before-seen footage from the film and speak with Bobin, producer Suzanne Todd, and returning star Mia Wasikowska about the film, and what I learned that day came as a genuine surprise.
The first is the story behind the Alice’s return to Underland, which unlike the first, does not happen by falling through the rabbit hole, but this time, by going through the looking glass. Upon reentry, Alice is informed by several of her acquaintances that she has returned to the world to save the Mad Hatter, who has lost all joy in life.
In terms of Alice’s evolution, she’s gone from the rebellious girl we knew in the first installment, to an even stronger, more assured young woman, in a time where that sort of thing is not condoned. One of the clips that we were shown from the film as well, was its first scene which featured Alice as the captain of a ship, which she navigates successfully and bravely away from a fleet of pirates racing to put their ship at the bottom of the ocean.
The scene itself was fun, and it does its job nicely, of not only reintroducing the audience to the period setting, but also allows them to understand where Alice is at in her life, without her having to explain it outright to them, which is something Bobin expressed his desire to do.
Alice herself, Mia Wasikowska, spoke on Alice’s evolution from the first film to Looking Glass as well:
“In the first one, she was quite uncomfortable, and a little bit awkward, and was very much finding her way. In this one, she’s just spent the past few years traveling and being the captain of a ship, and being very productive, and feeling really empowered. She’s much more sure of herself in this film.”
One of the other select scenes we were shown was of Alice’s arrival back in Underland, where she was greeted by several returning characters of the original film. It was here, where the different visual styles between Bobin and Burton became more apparent, as Bobin later expressed his interest in still living in Burton’s world, but also adding his flair to it, meaning more practical sets and locations to be mixed in with the visual effects heavy world that Underland is.
Coming off of the much more practical and comedic Flight of the Conchords and The Muppets films as well, Bobin’s much more realistic and lighter tones seemed to have benefitted the sequel, rather than hurt it, and that wasn’t more clear than the scenes with Sacha Baron Cohen’s Time, who as you might have guessed it, is the actual living embodiment of time itself.
The character factors into the story when, Alice realizing the cause of the Hatter’s sadness to be remembering the death of his family, decides to approach Time to let her use a device that will let her go back into the past, and prevent Hatter’s sadness from coming to fruition. He, of course, rejects her idea, since the idea of messing with Time upsets Time (can’t say we blame him either). But Alice, being the headstrong girl she is, does not listen and instead, when Time is distracted by his love for Helena Bonham Carter’s Red Queen, steals the device and sets a series of events in motion that cannot be undone.
For Bobin as well, the ability to move through time and explore new areas of the world, allowed him to both pay tribute to Burton’s original film and aesthetic, while also bringing a much more human element to it as well:
“We were lucky in the script that you could move through time. So I was enabled to do different things and use different places. And we hadn’t really ever fully explored the geography of the place. So in my design choices, I was trying to bear in mind the world that Tim created so it felt like it was in those parameters, yet at the same time bring a more human, quasi-historical, photo real vibe to it. So it’s not quite as fantastical. The trees are more real because there’s humans in it and I thought you’d want to bring it slightly into the more Victorian realm.”
From the footage shown alone, as well as the introduction of Sacha Baron Cohen’s Time, it’s looking more and more like Alice Through the Looking Glass will not only be incorporating what made the original film good back into the sequel, but also building on and improving the elements of it that were lacking. Whether it be the inclusion of more practical sets, or even the more emotional story behind its main premise, it’s the little details that go the farthest in Underland.
Alice Through the Looking Glass will hit theatres on May 27th.
Make sure to keep checking back for more updates — right here on GeekNation.
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