Back in the 2010, visionary director Tim Burton released his captivating version of “Alice in Wonderland”. Despite being a polarizing film for critics (it received a 53 on Metacritic), the film went on to gross over $330 million domestically, and finished with a worldwide gross of over $1 billion. It also went on to win two Oscars (Costume Design and Achievement in Art Direction) and was nominated for Best Achievement in Visual Effects as well (which it ultimately lost to Inception). The film also helped kick off Disney’s trend of adapting its animated classics with live action counterparts.
This May, a sequel is finally releasing. It was only fitting we got the first real glimpse of the film during Halloween weekend.
We posted the first look at the posters back in August, but here’s a refresher.
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First of all, the posters look to reinforce the rumors that the movie will deal with time travel in some capacity. The use of clocks in Alice imagery is pretty iconic at this point, but with the confirmation that Sacha Baron Cohen will be playing a character named Time, time travel looks to factor into the plot. The trailers reveal little, but definitely work as a short teaser to remind us of the amazing visual effects the first film was known for.
A return to Wonderland (or Underland as it was called in the first film), obviously means more Johnny Depp. The iteration of the character still remains popular at Disney parks, and it was announced rather early that he would be returning. Mia Wasikowska’s return was also a certainty given that she is Alice. With both Depp and Wasikowska showing up in acclaimed movies this year (Black Mass and Crimson Peak), it looks like they’ll be coming into the film in tip-top form.
However, most fans will be unhappy to hear that Burton did not return to direct the Alice sequel. That duty instead fell to James Bobin. Bobin is most known for his work as the director of “The Muppets” and “Muppets Most Wanted”, making his choice an interesting one. His work is mostly based in comedy, and given the types of gags used in the first film, this might be a solid choice. The footage in the teasers looks to be on par with some of the visuals in the original film, so one could argue that Bobin will not represent a drop off from Burton.
On the other hand, Bobin’s style is obviously very different from what Burton has represented. While he can likely imitate Burton well, the movie may struggle because Bobin will not be able to take his own spin on the characters. Considering that many Burton favorites, such as Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Alan Rickman will all be starring in the film, its hard to imagine that Bobin will be given too much license.
Another potential issue that stands in the way for the film is the release date. It’s been six years since the first film, which is certainly not ideal when trying to build a franchise. Also, while the original film released in the doldrums of March, this iteration releases on May 27th, in the middle of a summer of blockbusters. In fact, it shares the same weekend as 20th Century Fox’s “X-Men: Apocalypse”. The two can likely co-exist as there shouldn’t be too much audience cross-over, but with “Angry Birds” releasing the weekend before and “Teenage Mutant Turtles 2” releasing not long after, box office returns might be slightly lower than the last film.
Still, this initial footage should spark up the fan base. We’ll likely see a more complete trailer accompanying “The Good Dinosaur”, as well as “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”. Disney’s live action adaptations have also been very successful to this point, and with “The Jungle Book” releasing in April of 2016, goodwill may be strong with audiences. With such a rich and fascinating world, I doubt anyone will be upset about our return to Wonderland.
“Alice Through the Looking Glass” releases in theaters on May 27th, 2016. It is directed by James Bobin and stars Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Sacha Baron Cohen, Michael Sheen, Stephen Fry, Matt Lucas, Timothy Spall, Rhys Ifans, Toby Jones, and Alan Rickman.