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Film / Alice Through the Looking Glass

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"You've been gone too long, Alice. There are matters which might benefit from your attention. Friends cannot be neglected. Hurry."

Alice Through the Looking Glass is the sequel to Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (2010), this time directed by James Bobin (The Muppets (2011)). Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter and Alan Rickman reprise their role as Alice, the Mad Hatter, the White Queen, the Red Queen and Absolem the Caterpillar respectively.

Alice returns to the magical world of Underland, only to find the Hatter in a horrible state. With the help of her friends, Alice must travel through time to save the Mad Hatter and Underland's fate from the evil clutches of the Red Queen and Time (Sacha Baron Cohen), the half-human, half-clockwork embodiment of time itself.

The film also features the final performance of Alan Rickman before his death in early 2016. It was released on May 27, 2016.

Alice Through the Looking Glass provides examples of:

  • Action Prologue: The movie starts in the Straits of Malacca, with a merchant ship being pursued by three junks crewed by Malay pirates, in the middle of a savage storm. Rather mystifying, until you recognize the captain of the ship....
  • An Aesop: You cannot change the past, but you can learn from it.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: Time is a character in the film, and at least in Underland he also fulfills some of the duties of The Grim Reaper.
  • Artistic License – Ships: The Wonder, the ship Alice inherited from her father, is of a design that would've been considerably out of date when her father was young, let alone in 1875. It would have been much more time-appropriate for the ship to have been a clipper.
  • Ascended Dragon: The variant where the original leader is still alive and kicking, and The Dragon is only given the job temporarily. After Alice steals the Chronosphere, Time puts Wilkins in charge of managing the collapsing Grand Clock while Time himself goes to chase after "the kindergartner" and Set Right What Once Went Wrong.
  • Ascended Extra: Hamish only made a few brief appearances in the beginning and climax of the first film; here, he's the main antagonist.
  • Babies Ever After: While Alice has been off sailing the world, Hamish got married and had a child, who has about fifteen seconds of screen time.
  • Badass Boast:
    • Tarrant asks Time how long "soon" is. Time is not amused by his company's confusing antics, so he simply says this:
      Time: If you continue to vex me, it will be an eternity!!
    • Time also does it again when he first shows the Grand Clock to Alice.
      Time: I am he, and he is me. All that was or ever shall be! ... I thought up that poem.
  • Beleaguered Assistant: Wilkins has his work cut out for him trying to satisfy Time's demands. It only gets worse once he is left in charge while Time is chasing Alice all over the past.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Alice has a moment of this right at the beginning of the movie, when her seemingly ridiculous plan to steer her ship through shallow rock-strewn water saves the lives of her entire crew and disables the pirates who are attempting to capture them.
  • Billions of Buttons: The Chronosphere, the MacGuffin of the film, has a ton of unlabeled levers and wheels... until Alice discovers a toilet pull chain that's clearly labeled "Pull Me", to which Time has this gem:
    Time: [referring to his Seconds] Which one of you idiots labeled that?
    Wilkins: You did, sir.
    Time: Wilkins, thank you for admitting your mistake.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Whilst delaying Time, Hatter, the Dormouse, the Hare, and the Cheshire Cat make a lot of Time-related puns, slowly aggravating him; but the final straw is when Hatter reveals that he never said Alice was coming to the tea party, he only said he invited her. Things don't end well.
  • Bus Crash: Upon returning to London, Alice is informed that the old Lord Ascot has died while she was traveling, and that Hamish has assumed the title.
  • Butterfly Effect: If not for one child's lie none of it would ever have happened. Mirana stole Iracebeth's tarts when they were children, and when their mother didn't believe Mirana did the deed, Iracebeth ran out in a temper tantrum, causing her to have a nasty run-in with a statue (it would have been a grandfather clock, but Alice averted that... causing her to run into the base of a huge statue instead), causing her head to swell to extremes. Years later, Iracebeth was about to be crowned, but her crown created by Tarrant quite literally exploded when they tried putting it on her still-swelling head. The court laughed and Iracebeth responded in anger. Her father the king then declared Mirana his heir instead, and she reluctantly accepted. Infuriated and out of her mind, Iracebeth declared vengeance on Mirana and the Hightopps, particularly Tarrant. And the rest, as they say, is history.
  • The Cameo:
  • Central Theme: You can't change the past; you can only learn from it.
  • Cerebus Retcon:
    • Iracebeth's fixation with tarts becomes much darker once it is revealed that Mirana lying about stealing and eating some tarts when they were children led to the accident that left Iracebeth with her deformed big head.
    • The behavior of all the attendants at the Mad Hatter's tea party, when Alice first met him as a child, takes a disturbing quality once it's revealed that they were stuck in a time loop, forever one minute away from tea time, until the child Alice arrived to break the curse.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Everyone in Underland has a pocket watch and Time keeps the living sorted from the deceased. The fact that there are no watches for the Hightopp family in the deceased category clues Alice in to the fact that they're still alive.
    • We see Iracebeth's ant farm long before we learn that she's been using it to imprison the Hightopps.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Alice easily figures out how to pilot the Chronosphere due to her being skilled in sailing ships as a captain.
  • Childhood Brain Damage: The Queen of Hearts used to be normal until she fell and hit her head as a child.
  • Clockwork Creature: Fittingly enough, Time himself is a half-human, half-clockwork being, with gears and cogs sticking out the back of his head and a clock embedded in his chest. Then there's his Seconds, an army of diminutive, steam-powered minions that help maintain the Grand Clock.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: As in the original film, Mirana and Irascebeth are represented primarily by white and red respectively. In the flashback scenes before their final schism, both sisters incorporate a lot more pink, showing their lingering connection. This ultimately serves as foreshadowing for their reconciliation.
  • Combining Mecha: When Alice steals the Chronosphere, the Seconds give chase by assembling together to form larger, more threatening mechanical monsters called Minutes. Later on when the Grand Clock is breaking down, all of the Seconds combine into an even bigger being called the Hour, so they can manually run the clock's hands to prevent it from stopping.
  • Continuity Nod: A few of Alice and Tarrant's conversations give nods to those in the last movie.
    • Alice and Tarrant's farewell dialogue gives a few nods to when they were discussing if Alice was dreaming her adventure in the the last movie.
    • Then there was the exchange when Alice was trying to convince Tarrant she was a Time Traveler:
      Tarrant: You're absolutely bonkers.
      Alice: I've been told that.
      Tarrant: All the best ones are!
  • Cool Ship: The Wonder, Alice's ship at the end of the first movie that reappears here. Also the Chronosphere, a spherical steampunk-like device that can shrink down into pocket-size and powers the Grand Clock of All Time. Time's chronal handcar could count, as its speed throughout the Ocean of Time matches that of the Chronosphere, and is much simpler to handle...aside from the obvious crashing.
  • Cosmic Keystone: The Chronosphere; it sits in the central mechanism of the clock and powers the entire structure. If removed it can be expanded into a time machine, but without it all of time in Underland will eventually stop working right and break down.
  • Covers Always Lie: See that pretty golden mirror plastered all over the poster? Yeah, that doesn't actually appear in the film. Although Alice does pass through an ornate golden mirror at the end when she goes home, its design is very different.
  • Creative Closing Credits: A "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue of the Underlandians, all rendered in an animated paper diorama style.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: Everybody in Underland thinks the Mad Hatter is delusional for thinking that finding the first hat he made means that his family survived the Jabberwocky's attack. He turns out to be 100% correct.
  • Cute Kitten: The Cheshire kitten.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Time dresses in an ominous dark colored outfit and lives in a dark forbidding castle in the middle of a wasteland. Despite all of this, he is not evil in the least.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance:
    • Hamish and the company's board of directors can't fathom a female ship captain. They even consider themselves quite enlightened by considering hiring female clerks.
    • Alice finds herself sent to a hospital before the film's third act and her strong-willed, unconventional attitude is diagnosed as "female hysteria."
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Several characters suffer from this, but the crown clearly goes to the "Queen of Hearts" even more so than in the original works. To wit: after years of being an utterly horrific person, when a crowd laughs because her head is so huge her crown breaks, one of the first things she decrees is that the next person who laughs will lose his head. She only gets worse from there.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: The Knave of Hearts is Killed Offscreen between the previous film and this one, and only makes a brief appearance as a decayed skeleton. The first film did end with him begging for a Mercy Kill, so we're left to assume he got his wish, but it's quite jarring seeing a relatively prominent character in the previous film be offed so unceremoniously in this one.
  • Eternal Engine: Time's castle is, as you'd expect, completely filled with clockwork mechanisms. The castle itself sits in the middle of a gigantic clock face that can only be reached by crossing its giant hands, and the interior houses the mechanism that runs the Great Clock. When Alice goes to steal the Chronosphere she has to jump between swinging pendulums and run across moving clock gears to escape.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Iracebeth, for all her flaws and despicable deeds she committed, seems to have a profound dislike for lying. This makes sense once it's revealed that Mirana's fib caused her tragic accident.
  • Exact Words: How the Hatter tricks Time into waiting for Alice at his tea party. He told Time that he had invited Alice to tea, but he failed to mention that she had never agreed to come.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: At the very end of the film, Alice has chopped her long hair to chin-length, illustrating her mother's observation that she can do anything she chooses.
  • Eye Lights Out: Time's irises normally glow a bright blue, but they start to flicker in and out as time itself breaks down after Alice takes the Chronosphere. It only gets progressively worse when Underland rusts over and the blink rapidly before almost going out when Time rusts over too.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Cheshire simply grins and quips "Time's up!" as he is overwhelmed by rust in the climax. He gets better, of course.
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Father: Tarrant's dad was rather dismissive of his son's more artistic hat making style, preferring to make more ordinary hats instead.
  • Fat Bastard: Hamish has put on weight. Everything else he does in this film cements him solely in bastard territory.
  • Freudian Excuse: Turns out there's a very good reason why the Red Queen turned out the way she did. Mirana lied about stealing a tart and blamed it on her sister. Iracebeth ran away from the castle in tears and hit her head, which not only caused her head to swell but also did a bit of brain damage, which explains her speech impediment as well as her anger issues. And Mirana never told her parents what really happened. Then at Iracebeth's coronation, everything that could go wrong did - which caused her to have a temper tantrum, which made her dad disinherit her and make Mirana the heir instead.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When Alice's mother comments that "Time is a cruel master", Alice counters that "Time is a thief and a villain."
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: The audience finally learns the reason for the one between the Red and White Queens.
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • The Ascots' solicitor leaves their employ and goes to work for Alice and her mom at the end.
    • After Mirana apologizes for everything she did to her sister, Iracebeth finally musters up enough composure to forgive her and stop opposing the protagonists. If the credits are any indication, the two are patching things up.
  • Happy Ending Override: If anything, things have gotten worse for Underland and Alice during the interim.
  • Hero Antagonist: Time himself is absolutely right in attempting to stop Alice and retrieving the Chronosphere, since her actions put his life in danger and all of Underland at risk of annihilation.
  • Historical In-Joke: Possibly. This film shows us that the Red Queen's behavior became what it is after she suffered a head injury (and, it is implied, brain damage). Henry VIII famously had a hair-trigger temper similar to that of Iracebeth, but not until he was close to middle age; before that he was a boisterous but mostly good-hearted young man. During his marriage to Anne Boleyn, Henry experienced a traumatic jousting accident in which his horse rolled over over him. He suffered serious injuries to his head and leg. Several modern historians believe that the head injury caused some brain damage which altered his personality; additionally, the leg injury never healed properly, leading him to suffer chronic pain for the rest of his life, so the theory is that this accident is what turned him into the easily-irritated figure history remembers. It may be that Iracebeth's backstory is intended to be a reference to this theory. (Note the fact that Iracebeth dresses exclusively in Tudor-era style gowns.)
  • Humiliation Conga: Iracebeth's coronation. Not only does her tiara not fit, but it breaks and all of her subjects laugh at her, which causes her to have a temper tantrum and then her dad disinherits her in front of the entire kingdom.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Hatter, the Dormouse, the March Hare, and the Cheshire Cat make a lot of Time puns when they meet him.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • Pretty much every word that comes out of Time's mouth. Most blatant when he meets the past teatime gang.
    Time: I seek... a thief, of meager intellect. Her hair... yellowish. Her name... Alice.
    Tarrant: And what is your business with her?
    Time: She took something from me. I will not say what it was, it's not important. It is a trifle. I don't see why you're making such a fuss. (everyone else looks at each other in confusion) Ah, think of it as nothing. I MUST HAVE IT BACK. N-not that I'm concerned. AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Either way, I'm fine with the outcome. GIVE IT TO ME. WHO KNOWS ABOUT IT?!
    • After Alice saves Underland, Mally, who spent the first movie complaining that McTwisp brought the wrong Alice, loudly exclaims that she "always liked that girl."
  • I Just Want to Be Loved: Apparently, this is Iracebeth's major motivation, if her own words are to be believed.
    Red Queen: Why doesn't anyone love me?!
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Remember the Knave of Hearts, Iracebeth's beloved in the first film? He has a brief appearance in this one. His decaying corpse is in a chair at her castle, with a BFS stabbed through its chest, pinning it in place!
  • Impractically Fancy Outfit: The Ascots' party is filled with all the Victorian Costume Porn one might expect, but Alice's incredibly colorful outfit really stands out. It makes sense when she explains to her mother that it's a replica of one worn by the Dowager Empress of China, but since no one else at the party is aware of this, they naturally make derisive remarks.
    Time: Agh! Stupid me-shaped corridor!
  • In Name Only: The only real resemblance the film's plot has to its source material are the chessboard, Humpty Dumpty's appearance, and the fact that Alice reaches Underland by passing through a looking glass. The entire plot surrounding time travel and the Hatter's family is completely original.
  • Insistent Terminology: Once he makes it clear just what a Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk he's become, Alice refuses to address Hamish as Lord Ascot, as a way to demean him.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Time is quite rude to almost everyone, and somewhat vindictive at times, but he is essentially a good person who cares about the feelings of his underlings and the well-being of all of Underland.
  • Lighter and Softer: The color palette of Underland is much brighter this time around, and slapstick humor abounds throughout. Whenever a flashback to the first film happens (such as when Alice travels back in time to Horvendush Day), the contrast is jarring.
  • Light Is Not Good: In a sense. For all that Mirana is kind and gentle, not only did she lie about Iracebeth stealing the tart, but she never told anyone the truth, even during the coronation when confessing might have made the king reconsider disinheriting Iracebeth. She also never apologized for it until the end of the second film. It'd be fair to say that there's some selfishness and manipulativeness underneath all that sweetness.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Alice and the Hatter, once again.
  • Memento MacGuffin: The Wonder and Alice's pocket watch, both of which belonged to her father. Her reluctance to part with either of them is key to the story. By the end, she's willing to give up both - she gives the watch to Time as a parting token, and is prepared to surrender the ship in exchange for her mother's house.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Mirana has this reaction as a little girl when she witnesses the aftermath of her sister's accident. If Mirana hadn't lied about stealing the last tart and tried pinning the blame on her sister, then Iracebeth would never have run away and hit her head in the first place.
  • Mythology Gag: In the original book, during the tea party, the Hatter, whose watch is stuck on the same day, gets in an argument with Alice about time, saying that her idioms such as "wasting time" actually refer to a real being, and that she wouldn't be so rude if she met Time. Time here is a major character in the film, and he is responsible for the Hatter's endless tea party.
  • Never Heard That One Before: Time is not so much angry at the Hatter and his friends for the Hurricane of Puns they throw his way as he is thoroughly annoyed by the fact that he has already heard them all countless times.
  • Never the Selves Shall Meet: A time traveler even getting a look at his past self is enough to cause time to collapse unto itself and destroy Underland. To be exact, seeing each other will cause the two selves to turn to rust, which will quickly spread to all of Underland, turning all its inhabitants and the entire universe, from the Sea of Time to even the sky, into rust.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: All of the advertising presents Time as the Big Bad who intends to destroy Underland. Granted, this actually ties into the plot, and the major twist. As in the beginning of the film, Alice comes to see time itself as her enemy, and thus, this leads to her seeing Time as a villainous figure of Underland. In reality, he's actually one of the closest things Underland has to a Big Good, being the guardian of the clock that keeps it running, and he's trying to save Underland from turning to rust by getting the Chronosphere back from Alice.
  • No Accounting for Taste: Seriously, Time fell in love with the Red Queen why?
  • No Sympathy: The Red Queen's head injury and mental problems garner her little sympathy from her subjects or even her own family.
  • Noodle Incident: It's all but stated that Tarrant had a nasty accident with mercury since everyone else in his family is sane.
  • Oh, No... Not Again!: Humpty Dumpty says this just before falling over and shattering.
  • Old Maid: Hamish, in retribution for rejecting his proposal, plans this fate for Alice, since she would have to give up her dreams of world travel and start over as a clerk, at 22. He thinks no man in his right mind would want to marry her at such an "advanced" age.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Tarrant is abnormally calm and coherent as he tells Alice why he believes his family is still alive, proving how earnest he is about it. The contrast is reinforced by the simple gray suit he wears in the scene, as opposed to his usual colorful attire.
  • Parental Substitute: Time becomes this for Alice at the end; she even gives him a broken watch that had belonged to her father. Fitting, since one of its common personifications is Father Time. Time for his part wishes her well, forgives her for stealing the Chronosphere, and hopes they don't run into each other in the future.
  • Parting-Words Regret:
    • The Hatter has always regretted the fact that the Horunvendush Day destroyed his family before he and his father could make amends.
    • He instills this in Alice when she travels back to try to convince him to make peace with his father, because he says that the last thing he would ever want is to end up like his father - exactly the same thing Alice said to (and about) her mother. The look on her face says it all.
  • Platonic Declaration of Love: After Iracebeth realizes that the Chronosphere is back in place and she's lost her chance to change the past, she despairingly asks why this always happens to her and why no one loves her. Her sister Mirana replies that she loves her. Iracebeth snaps back that she doesn't, which leads to Mirana tearfully confessing about the incident with the tarts and asking for her forgiveness. Iracebeth declares that this is all she ever wanted to hear.
  • Put on a Bus: Not a word is mentioned of Alice's Cool Big Sis, Margaret, even though they were implied in the first film to be fairly close.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • Hamish's father, the late Lord Ascot, had no problem with Alice becoming a ship's captain and employing her in this capacity.
    • Time may have No Social Skills, but he hears Alice's case and then actually takes the time to explain to her why he can't agree to her request.
    Time: You can't change the past, but perhaps you can learn something from it.
  • Reality-Changing Miniature: Time and the Grand Clock are one and the same, so naturally he has a miniature copy of its face in his chest whose hands he can manipulate to accelerate or pause the flow of... Himself.
  • Rich Bitch: Hamish's wife Alexandra, "the new Lady Ascot," is every bit as much of this as her mother-in-law was shown to be in the first film. Dowager Lady Ascot, meanwhile, is implied to still be this - however, since she only has one line in the whole movie, it's not as obvious.
  • Roaring Rampage of Rescue: Once the heroes realize what's really happened to the Hightopps, they launch one of these. Doesn't quite go as planned.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Queen Elsemere, Iracebeth and Mirana's mother, apparently did her own baking and even cleaned her own kitchen.
  • Series Continuity Error: Since this film was directed by James Bobin instead of Tim Burton, a few retcons and continuity errors are to be expected, but this film has an overabundance of them! Whoever was supposed to check for continuity errors should have been fired.
    • When Tarrant is finally reunited with his family at the end of the movie, he tells his father about how he's become a successful hatter, as if none of his family would know that he was serving in the White Queen's court at the time of Horevedush/Horenvendush Day. Heck, he was there at the festival just like the rest of his family and his actions are the whole reason Queen Mirana was able to make it to safety in the first place!
    • The odd coloring of the Mad Hatter's hands, hair, and face were explained in bonus features to be a result of exposure to the mercury used in the glue for hats, and in the first film during the flashback to Horevendush/Horenvendush Day, while very pale, his hands, hair, and face are all still colors that might naturally be seen on a normal person. Yet when Alice first travels in the Chronosphere and meets pre-Horevendush Day Tarrant, he has all the wild and crazy colorings that he does when Alice meets him in the first film.
  • Ship Tease:
    • There seems to be a stronger hint of Mad Hatter/White Queen in this one than of Alice/Hatter. The Queen is visibly distressed over Hatter's situation and is outright weeping at his bedside when he's near death.
    • That said, it is possible to interpret the Alice/Hatter reactions as shippy. When he sees her again for the first time, not only do they hug, but also he puts his hands all over her face. He also calls her "my Alice", and of course, she goes through a lot to help him during the course of the movie.
  • Shout-Out: The climax of the movie bears a striking resemblance to an episode of DuckTales (1987), in which Scrooge races to return a MacGuffin to its pedestal as the world behind him and everyone in it is turned into solid metal, and almost fails as he is changed just shy of the pedestal. Just replace the Chronosphere with a goose, and rust with gold.
  • Start My Own: At the end of the film, Alice and her mom start their own trading firm after being screwed over by the Ascots, with the intent of putting them out of business.
  • That Liar Lies: Iracebeth accuses her sister of it twice. She's right.
  • Time Crash: What happens when someone's past self sees their future self.
  • Timeshifted Actor: Due to the time-travelling nature of the film's plot, we see the Hatter as a boy (played by Louis Ashbourne Serkis), and both the Red Queen and the White Queen as little girls (played by Leilah de Meza and Amelia Crouch respectively). Kyle Hebert also voices Bayard as a puppy for a single line.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: A literal one in the form of the Chronosphere, which Alice steals from Time. The aspect of time (not the person, mind you) being not simply just a river flowing in one direction is touched upon when Time chases Alice through a storm of time the first instance she uses the Chronosphere.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Hamish was already an Upper-Class Twit in the previous movie, but this time around he is actively trying to screw Alice over and destroy the life she built for herself after rejecting him.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Iracebeth the Red Queen, surprisingly enough, didn't display any of her more deplorable character traits as a child until after her accident. She still was a bit of a selfish brat, as she had been eating all of the tarts (except one) and told her sister to eat the crumbs when Mirana calls her out on it.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Time and Wilkins speak with a weird mock-German accent, complete with sporadic Gratuitous German.
  • Wrongfully Committed: Halfway through the movie, Alice is brought to an asylum to get treated for "female hysteria" after her stories about Wonderland are misinterpreted to be delusions.
  • You Already Changed the Past: This is the nature of Time Travel in Underland. It is impossible to change the past, and all of Alice's attempts either fail or end up becoming part of the way history originally went.


Video Example(s):


She Forgave Her For The Tart

After seeing the White Queen and her sister reconcile, the Nostalgia Critic brings up all the Red Queen's war crimes and how it seemingly is swept under the rug because of tarts.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / EasilyForgiven

Media sources: