Taking place three years after Alice tumbled down the Rabbit Hole and was able to slay the Jabberwocky and end the Red Queen's reign, Alice has become the sea captain of her late father's ship, and after a long voyage throughout the world and avoiding pirates by cleverly believing in the impossible, she returns home to find that her investor of her business has passed and is now run by Hamish, the man Alice refused to marry in the first movie. He reveals at a party (where Alice dresses in the prettiest and tackiest Chinese dress) that Alice's mother set aside the shares of her ship and their own mortgage on their house, and in a snap of a finger, Alice's entire life has sunk. Then she sees and hears Absolem who takes her back to Underland through a magic mirror because the Mad Hatter is in trouble, or is in a troubled state. In order to fix the death of his long deceased family, Alice has to try to travel back in time to save his family, against the personification of Time itself who says the past is unfixable.
So what grabbed my interest and desire to first watch this film? Not the trailers, I didn't watch any. It's because people said it looked very good with lots of colourful special effects. And lately I'd seen movies that either looked plain or had great effects but effects that didn't have any colour and put me to sleep. There was also the fact of how much time had passed between the first movie. Then when I started watching it and the first idea to tip over a ship to weaken the traction and watched the marvellous falling scene that I knew this was going to be a non-stop beautiful movie. It was when Alice goes to the big temple and crosses the Ocean of Time that I was completely in disbelief at how tremendous this was. The special effects and sets are, even in this day and age, like nothing we've ever seen before and utilize every colour, every set, every costume, while still feeling natural and without completely distracting the audience. Even Time's seconds and minutes (in Transformers form) are joyful and kinetic and breathtakingly threatening. Even Helena Bonham Carter's subtle "Alice" whisper is poetic.
I don't usually comment on costumes in movies, but they usually don't bring anything to comment on. The Chinese rainbow coloured dress is breathtaking, the perfect dress for Alice, and even stealthily changes, and right before we may grow a bit tired of it, Alice gets a new dress that is timeless and fit for just about any occasion. The dresses almost made me wish I was female for a day so I could try them on. And I don't mean to be gross, but Mia Wasikowska is adorable and was always the perfect actress for Alice.
Okay, so the movie looks great. What about how the story went? Well, it starts off with reminding us of the age Alice is living in, one where a sea captain is not a suitable job for a lady and even the guardians of these captains can be against it. The tension between Alice and her mother, on what they do and say to each other, and the fact Alice's job prevented her from being home often, grabbed me and held me down, excited to find out how they would resolve their conflict. There is also a scene much later where Alice's mother performs a heroic act that evaporates any hatred we have for the mother in one swipe and will touch the hearts of all sorts of families as Alice flees. The family dynamics and stories in this movie are unforgettable and even creative because they somehow don't follow the same formula as every other fairy tale about issues back home. Also, the creators of this movie described it as a prequel and a sequel simultaneously, and from my knowledge, may have shown us how the start of the first movie and the tea-time opening actually came to be. It also shows us supreme moxie for its world by letting us understand the origins of the conflicts the White and Red Queens and sisters conveyed at the fight at the end, and the will to shed light on the vicious Red Queen, seems rather novel to me.
And every movie involving time travel has some sort of theory about the effects of time travel. For this one, it's kind of hard to tell at first. Can you change the past? If you change the past too much, does that break it? If you break a past that binded people, then what happens? Or can it actually differ and people can change without anything bad happening? If so, how? And when one person time travels, do they still feel a bind between their supposed present because of their age and their age ticking away regularly? Alice Through the Looking Glass sheds its own theory, as a brilliant take on sci-fi, especially involving the ocean of time and the wild and interesting take on the transitions. The time concept is a little complicated but that seems to be the point, and I feel that any families or grown ups who watch this movie together will have a fun conversation when they get home about how time worked in Underland.
I admit, there's one small flaw with the film: At the start, the White Queen explains only Alice can use the chronosphere, the time traveling device, because she hasn't been in the Underland world. But a little later, two characters, besides Time and Alice, use it that have been in the world. However, this is a flaw that I only found after a few repeated viewings, a flaw that belongs in a CinemaSins video rather than an obvious flaw that should wreck the whole film, because it doesn't. So, are there other elements of the story I loved? You bet. It talks about believing in the impossible and when the movie spins on its head, it brings back a plot point from the film I completely forgot about but when it brought the fact back, I couldn't believe I missed it! It was so subtle yet brilliant and spent just the right amount of time before letting the mystery open.
Alice Through the Looking Glass slays all of its competition for movie of the year and then lets us hold the sword, humour, story, heart, action, effects, all incredible! Please, watch it now!