I don’t remember a lot about the original 2010 Alice in Wonderland movie. I remember that I saw it during my spring break of that year, because my friends and I spent the week at Walt Disney World and we saw it at the Downtown Disney movie theater. I remember being absolutely obsessed with the costuming. And most of all, I remember… not hating it as much as a lot of people seemed to. That’s about it. So when I saw that they were making a sequel, I—unlike a lot of people I talked to—was cautiously excited about it.
The plot appears to be setting up the Hatter as a sort of damsel in distress figure that Alice must rescue from Time, a mysterious villain played by Sacha Baron Cohen. I dig this continuation of the first movie’s conception of Alice as a kind of knight errant to the kingdom of Underland, both because it’s new and different and because it’s a cool gender reversal. This version of Alice’s story has always given her plenty of agency, as I recall, both in and out of Underland. And fantastical costumes aside, she even gets a totally practical and beautiful boob-plate-less suit of armor at the end of the first film. One thing I am curious about, though, is what’s happened in the meantime. Will the gap within the movies be the six years that have passed between Alice in Wonderland and now, or will they cash in on the apparent agelessness of their entire cast to have a smaller timeskip?
My only complaint about the premise of the plot so far is that, much like the original movie had little to do with the actual Alice in Wonderland story despite its title, the storyline of this film doesn’t seem to have much to do with the original book Through the Looking Glass either. I know these are eyecatching and familiar titles/phrases, but they could have made an effort to mix up the wording a little bit.
While the overall aesthetic of the movie is identical to the original’s—a kind of fantasy/steampunk-ish goth-lite that is oh-so-2010 and seems a little dated now—I am pleased to see that the creative team’s dedication to totally gorgeous, intricate, off-the-wall costumes is a hundred percent intact. Aside from that, I’m amused and excited about the casting of Sacha Baron Cohen as the villain, because with him on board it reunites almost the entire cast of the Sweeney Todd musical movie (Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman—RIP, Timothy Spall), and if he does have a romance with the Red Queen as the trailer suggests, the Carter/Cohen evil power couple will rival their previous incarnation in Les Miserables‘s Thenardiers for unsavoriness and ability to give Anne Hathaway grief.
While this movie might not end up being good by any stretch of the imagination, I’m genuinely interested in checking it out and seeing for myself. If it turns out it’s terrible, at least I got to look at cool and attractive people in pretty costumes for two hours. I may even get an honest laugh or two out of it. If it’s good, I may have to dig my old Mia Wasikowska-embossed Alice in Wonderland purse out of mothballs and put it back into circulation. We’ll see what happens in May.