Alice is back after 3 long years at sea. She has found herself and her purpose in life, not caring about how others view her, only doing what she believes in. Some may call that selfish (like her former suitor Hamish, who has moved on, married with a child, and head of his father’s business). Others call her a crusader. Alice makes the term “feminism” be exactly what is should be – not an act of defiance but an act of determination. She doesn’t take flack from anyone, stands up for her beliefs, and keeps an air of comfortable femininity through it all. She’s a girl, but a girl who can do anything a man can do (like captain a ship). For Alice it has never been about a love interest, but more of a allegiance to her friends, family, and herself.
While Alice (Mia Wasikowska) has grown up, she is also still very much a child in ways; she is curious, quick to make decisions without thinking them through, and suspends her own reality for the sake of the Underland. She meets Absolem again, the once toking caterpillar who has now turned into a beautiful blue butterfly (no doubt an homage to the passing of legendary Alan Rickman who voices Absolem), and he brings her back to the Underland, this time not through a rabbit hole, but a mirror in the study of Hamish’s mansion, narrowly escaping him. She finds that The Hatter is in a terrible shape and growing darker by the minute after insisting his family is still alive somewhere in the Underland when everyone else believes they are gone. Alice then decides to go back through time (at the suggestion of The White Queen, played delicately by Anne Hathaway), so she goes to meet the only one who can help her – Time himself.
Alice Through the Looking Glass is very much like 2010’s Alice In Wonderland in many ways, but also very different. In the first installment we were introduced to the fantastical characters of the classic tale – Hatter, Red Queen, Cheshire Cat and others – and in this film, although it’s great to see the characters again, we only get to meet one new main character, Time (played expertly by Sacha Baron Cohen). And while that was an expected let-down of sorts (The Red Queen’s entrance was still grand as to be expected), it was redeemed with some rich backstory. We get to find out why The Red Queen’s head is so large, why The Hatter is so eager to follow in his family’s footsteps, and even see every character we love from the Underland as children. A lot of questions from the first film are answered in the second.
Another factor in why you should see Alice Through The Looking Glass is the CGI effects. While 2010’s film was spectacular in itself, the special effects then are “so 6 years ago” and animators have taken leaps and bounds in making Alice visually stunning. Every hair on Cheshire blows realistically in the wind. Time’s eyes glisten, and the images of racing through time are dark, brooding, and bring you right into the action. Couple that with the extravagant costumes (where do I get that battle suit the Red Queen wears?) it’s a feast for your eyes that you will gobble up like Thanksgiving dinner.
Fans of the original will love Alice Through The Looking Glass, and those who haven’t seen the original will be left with wanting to download it the second they get home to watch. The message of “nothing is impossible” is one that strikes a chord with parents, especially those who have daughters with traits like Alice has. The exciting climax of the film leaves you satisfied with the story all tied up in the end, all questions answered, and every main character learning something about themselves and others, which is a great thing.