Movie trailers are like free samples at Costco: The good ones excite you and leave you wanting more, while the bad ones make you cringe. Each week, A&E columnist Matthew Fernandez will dissect movie trailers and analyze the Hollywood fare to come.
If you ask me how to describe a Tim Burton movie, I would say vivid, haunting and borderline crazy.
Although 2010’s “Alice in Wonderland” reboot had critics split roughly down the middle, I really enjoyed Burton’s characteristically wacky visuals and the film’s eeriness. Burton has yielded the director’s chair to James Bobin and is serving as a producer on the sequel, “Alice Through the Looking Glass.” From the trailer released Feb. 15, the film looks like an even trippier continuation of Burton’s work.
From the start, the trailer boasts a surrealist visual style. There is a marked contrast between the dull, cold, muted colors of the normal world and the warm, vibrant boldness of Wonderland. The familiar “Alice in Wonderland” trope of mismatched proportions is revisited via a tiny Alice emerging into a giant room, complete with a roaring tiger skin rug. The most stunning scenes put Alice on a living chessboard and show a giant clock which doubles as a castle.
The film’s elaborate costumes and makeup are also a sight to behold. The outfits are often very large and intricate, enhancing the grand scale and otherworldly vibe of Wonderland. The use of makeup also has a transformative and fanciful effect. For example, changing the color around the Mad Hatter’s eyes from pinkish to black shifts him from being a friendly and comical character to a dark and potentially malicious character.
Alan Rickman makes an appearance in the trailer of his final film since his death in January, reprising his role as Absolem, the blue butterfly. His brief appearance in the trailer isn’t very substantial as he only says two sentences; it feels like either a homage to the actor or a cheap play on the audience’s nostalgia to get them to see the movie, much like “Fast 8.”
Also reprising their roles are Mia Wasikowska as Alice, Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen and Anne Hathaway as the White Queen. Depp was easily the stand-out character in “Wonderland” with his scatterbrained take on the Mad Hatter.
Sacha Baron Cohen joins the cast as Time, the film’s main villain. Cohen is known for playing zany characters – think Julien in “Madagascar” or Borat – however, as Time, he has a more subtle, sinister energy. It will be interesting to see if Cohen’s charisma meshes or clashes with Depp’s and if one will outshine the other.
Without Burton at the helm, I wonder if “Alice Through the Looking Glass” will have the same whimsy as “Wonderland.” The trailer shows a clear Burton-esque aesthetic, but it is one thing to imitate Burton’s visual quirks and another to capture his essential eeriness. I think Bobin, who directed the newest “Muppets” movies, possesses a similar sense of silly humor, but until the movie comes out, it’s impossible to tell if he can be as effective at creating a dark tone.
As a big Burton fan, I watch everything with his name attached to it. Even though “Alice Through the Looking Glass” isn’t directed by Burton, the trailer footage has a very twisted, crazy vibe that is very reminiscent of his other works. Hopefully it can imitate and even surpass the dark, adventurous feel that made “Alice in Wonderland” so enjoyable.
– Matthew Fernandez
Are you excited by the new trailer for “Alice Through the Looking Glass?” Email Fernandez at [email protected]