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Time is on our Side

Alice Through the Looking Glass

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Director: James Bobin

Cast: Mia Waskowska, Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, Lindsay Duncan, Rhys Ifans, Stephen Fry, Timothy Spall, Michael Sheen, Richard Armitage, Andrew Scott, Alan Rickman

Contrary to popular belief the author of Alice Through the Looking Glass was not high on drugs although the latest film version by James Bobin seems to suggest otherwise. Victorian author Lewis Carroll was prone to doses of Laudanum but certainly not to hallucinations due to any mind altering drugs. Carroll whose real name was Charles Lutwidge Dawson did hang out with the Pre-Raphaelites and obviously possessed a vivid imagination.

Following the immense success of director Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland in 2010, Alice Through the Looking Glass fortunately reassembles the same cast with a much larger part for Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter.

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Additions to the new film, include British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen (Hugo, Borat, The Dictator) as Father Time and Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill) as the misplaced father of the Mad Hatter, Zanik Hightopp.

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Mia Wasikowska reprises her role as Alice Kingsleigh and Lindsay Duncan (Birdman) stars as her mother Helen Kingsleigh.

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Visually, Alice Though the Looking Glass is a real treat, a sublime and whimsical journey into a fantasy world in which Alice must travel through time and a looking glass and not only battle Father Time but the evil Red Queen of Hearts, wonderfully played again by Helena Bonham Carter.

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This time the evil Queen seeks vengeance upon her sister Mirana, played with virginal innocence by Anne Hathaway, plunging Wonderland into chaos as the Queen of Hearts against the warnings of Father Time, confronts a past version of herself, a jealous little girl who was blamed for her sister’s naughty tricks of stealing tarts.

Whilst Alice Through The looking Glass will certainly appeal to a younger female audience, its themes are certainly of an adult nature – never regret the past, never try and take revenge on your family and most importantly always strive for what is your rightful inheritance. Mia Wasikowa is utterly believable as the headstrong Alice who in the prologue of the film is battling to save her late father’s ship from being taken away by greedy Victorian creditors.

Alice Through the Looking Glass, despite some big names in the cast is a brilliant ensemble piece, beautifully told and superbly directed by James Bobin under the guidance of Tim Burton.

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Naturally Depp is completely whacky and delightful as the incorrigible mad hatter, but it’s really Sacha Baron Cohen who steals the show as the ubiquitous Father Time who proves that time is really on our side, despite the proverbial warning.

This rewarding sequel is fun, visually fantastic and highly recommended viewing, a whimsical journey through the looking glass into a parallel universe in which time paradoxically becomes an embodiment of both past regrets and future reconciliations.

The Middle Earth Saga

The Hobbit:

The Battle of the Five Armies

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Director: Peter Jackson

Cast: Martin Freeman, Benedict Cumberbatch, Lee Pace, Evangeline Lilly, Richard Armitage, Luke Evans, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee, Cate Blanchett, Ian McKellan, Hugo Weaving, Aidan Turner, James Nesbitt, Dean O’Gorman

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After the massive success of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, New Zealand director Peter Jackson (Heavenly Creatures) creates another trilogy out of J. R. R. Tolkien’s first novel The Hobbit with An Unexpected Journey, The Desolation of Smaug and the final film, The Battle of the Five Armies, each film being internationally released sequentially from 2012 to 2014 in time for the Christmas Holidays.

Bilbo Baggins and his gang of dwarves go on a quest to defeat the dreadful dragon Smaug and reclaim the gold hidden in the Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor. The Battle of The Five Armies is naturally pure fantasy and really has to be seen in conjunction with the first two Hobbit films. With hideous orcs and elves fighting each other along with dwarves and humans, lead by Bard the Dragon Slayer (Luke Evans), this is wonderful CGI action and moments of humour thrown in. Whilst the Lord of the Rings Trilogy was a tad darker in tone, the Hobbit is lighter and aiming for a younger audience, but just as enjoyable.

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Ably assisted by a great supporting cast including Sir Ian McKellan as Gandolf the Grey, Cate Blanchett as Galadriel, Luke Evans as Bard, Orlando Bloom as the Elf fighter Legolas, Martin Freeman’s portrayal of the beloved Bilbo Baggins caught up in a war far greater than what his pretty shire existence is used to, is perfect. Freeman’s status as an actor has risen considerably after this franchise and his wonderful portrayal as Lester Nygaard in the hit TV series Fargo.

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The Hobbit Trilogy is a precursor to the Lord of the Rings Trilogy yet naturally all six films should ideally be seen on the big screen in 3D and digital sound. I watched the first two Hobbit films on DVD, and saw The Battle of the Five Armies in a Cinema and the visual effects were spell bounding especially the scenes with the Dragon Smaug obliterating the human’s village and also the fantastic war sequence which takes up pretty much most of the second half of this film.

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There has been criticism that Peter Jackson was milking the Hobbit Story into a multi-million dollar film franchise as the Tolkien’s book is so short, however its quite clear that with the success of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, the studios gave him free reign, so yes that is precisely what he did, knowing full well that The Hobbit brand marketability would be huge.

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Fans of both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogy will certainly not be complaining. Many battles and legends alluded to in the Hobbit novel are superbly expanded upon and given their full cinematic exploration. Middle Earth never looked this glamorous, spectacular and daunting.

Mexican director Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Pacific Rim) assists Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens with screenwriting on the Hobbit movies, so director Peter Jackson can do what he does best – recreating the world of Middle Earth and exploring fantasy in its supreme entirety.

For continuity purposes it also helps having the wonderful Sir Ian McKellan, Oscar winner Cate Blanchett and even veteran screen actor Christopher Lee return to the Hobbit films in supporting roles, making this trilogy just as fun and exciting as the brilliant Lord of the Rings franchise which dazzled audiences in the first decade of the 21st century. Benedict Cumberbatch voices the evil dragon Smaug which guards a horde of gold belonging to the Dwarf King.

Now the question remains will Peter Jackson tackle the other J. R. R. Tolkien novel The Silmarillion ?

 

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