Double Feature: Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016) & Goodbye Christopher Robin (2017)

Welcome to the next double feature! Its been at least a month since the last one and I’m slowly feeling up to writing reviews after a 2 week (or so) break after Fantasia! I did watch these two around the beginning of Fantasia Festival.

Alice Through The Looking Glass (2016)

Alice Through the Looking Glass

Director: James Bobin

Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Helena Bonham Carter, Johnny Depp, Sacha Baron Cohen, Anne Hathaway

Alice returns to the whimsical world of Wonderland and travels back in time to help the Mad Hatter. – IMDB

Alice Through the Looking Glass is the sequel to the live action Alice in Wonderland. While this live action adaptation is usually negatively rated, I see the flaws but somehow these  whimsical things work okay for myself. It becomes quite entertaining. Alice Through the Looking Glass has its issues and sometimes it doesn’t work as well as it might have hoped for but there are a few redeeming traits here. Lets just get it out there that as many times as I have started reading the source material by Lewis Carroll, I haven’t finished it so I have no idea how similar it is to the book. I do feel that some things were a little over the top in possibly the way it was portrayed however, the whimsical suspension of belief is expected and never a surprise. I like over the top fantastical elements so its why I still watch these movies.

Alice Through the Looking Glass

There is a lot of silliness in Alice Through the Looking Glass. The redeeming character is still always Mia Wasikowska as Alice. She is such a spectacular actress who takes on different types of roles but excels in them. In this one, I loves her outfits and the journey she takes and altogether, keeping to how Alice is with the character traits. To be honest, most of the characters from the previous film did keep in character. Which pretty much means that if you didn’t like the first one, chances are that you might not like this one as it feels a little bit even more odd than before. Something here doesn’t fit together completely and yet I never pinpoint what it is. Perhaps its the weird Anne Hathaway performance as the White Queen and the story behind her and the Queen of Hearts. There is a slight entertainment value to Sacha Baron Cohen as Time.

Visually, Alice Through the Looking Glass delivers just like the first film. The characters also carry a lot of fun elements to them and are a joy to watch. However, the story behind her fighting to retrace the Mad Hatter’s childhood and learning about the White Queen and  Queen of Hearts story as well as having Time chase her through time and space felt a little lacking. Maybe its just not so personal when Alice does learn something about herself through this but the link of everyone in those stories just doesn’t feel like it adds up to more than it should.

Goodbye Christopher Robin (2017)

Goodbye Christopher Robin

Director: Simon Curtis

Cast: Domhnall Gleeson, Margot Robbie, Kelly MacDonald, Will Tilston, Alex Lawther

A behind-the-scenes look at the life of author A.A. Milne and the creation of the Winnie the Pooh stories inspired by his son C.R. Milne. – IMDB

I’m not much of a biopic person. If you haven’t noticed, I try to stay away from biopic or drama or something like that. Movies are a means of entertainment to escape from drama so its one of the reasons why they tend to be the least chosen genre in film. I still watch them but they are infrequent. With that said, its hard to resist the biopic of A.A. Milne, the man who brought to life Thousand Acres Woods and Winnie the Pooh and his gang. As much as this is about the fame of Winnie the Pooh and this world, this biopic focuses on A.A. Milne’s relationship with his son and the reason of why this fun and fictional world even exists in the first place.

goodbye Christopher Robin

If there’s something more than Pooh Bear that I can’t resist, its a father and son relationship, well any parent and child relationship usually tugs pretty hard at my heartstrings. It feels pretty genuine in the way that this whole thing is portrayed. Domhnall Gleeson has a huge part in this because he does a fantastic job at portraying A.A. Milne. His character and the father he is and the man that he is and just how what he has gone through has changed him but no one quite understands him, especially his wife, played by Margot Robbie. However, we all have something to thank in this world and even adults sometimes make the choices when they get carried away with a situation and this is how Winnie the Pooh may have saved a lot of kids and was the world for so many people but in the end, it somehow deteriorated this father and son relationship and created a misunderstanding. Its this story and this human relationship that makes this film really good.

Goodbye Christopher Robin is a fairly simple story and the feelings and relationship is so genuine that it makes it tug at our heartstrings even more. There’s a lack of communication and a bonding that grows over time because of the choices made by everyone. In some ways, it makes us wonder about this world that has given joy to so many people and yet the bittersweet feelings that come with learning about how there were sacrifices to sharing this world that A.A. Milne created with his son with everyone else and the fame and popularity ate away at their relationship. After you watch this, it feels like its a conflict that never quite gets resolved and whether it feels like everyone else had invaded into someone else’s imaginary world. Maybe I’m thinking too much into it but this movie is pretty bittersweet by the end.

Brave (2012)

Now I’m getting amazed at myself.  One movie a week and both that I had anticipated this year. This one I had wanted to see for the last few weeks but never actually got a chance due to going away on vacation, and my boyfriend was interested in other movies, etc.  So what do I do? My best friend and I had a girl’s day out and went to catch Pixar‘s newest feature, Brave.

Overall, the experience was fantastic, making that 45 minute walk in 38C hot and humid weather to the farther theatre so much more worth it.  We saw pretty interesting previews also.  I had already seen on Youtube the ones for Despicable Me 2 and Hotel Transylvania but it also had the previews for Monster University (next year’s Pixar, I believe) which looked funny, and Wreck It Ralph, which I’m still thinking if it will be good.  I’ll see if other trailers come out closer to the release date to get a better idea of what to anticipate.

The other treat we usually get with our Pixar movies are the short films.  This year’s is called La Luna.  I have to say that I really enjoyed it.  The concept was cute, humorous and simple but definitely original.  It was appealing and warmed our hearts.  If you get a chance, do check it out.  I don’t want to go too much into detail because it is a short movie so there’s not much saying the plot that wouldn’t ruin the experience.

Now we get down to business.  The main feature, Brave is pretty much a movie about a princess who wants to take her life in her own hands.  She wants to change her fate and destiny simply by winning her own hand of marriage for starters.  Our princess, Merida  was a charismatic one with a cute accent and a great personality.  To some, Pixar finally falling into a princess movie to follow the line of Disney‘s long line of classic princesses might not be appealing.  To me, this princess, Merida was very different.  She portrayed a more free minded princess who didn’t want to be saved by Prince Charming.  In fact, the movie didn’t have much of any male leads except for the king (Merida’s father) and the 3 clans who came to have their first borns win her hand in marriage.  Brave featured pretty strong-minded women.  Even the king Fergus was not as good as working the crowd and controlling the environment in the room as well as his queen, Elinor’s ability to do that.  She stood up to protect when she needed to in a more emotional and psychological way whereas the men were portrayed as more physical protection.

There were a few things that stood out in this movie more than others.  I like the whole concept of taking your fate into your own hands a whole lot because it broke out of the normal and it does send a nice message to the new generation. Second, I liked how they utilized the concept of freedom.  It also shows you that everything comes with a cost.  “Are you willing to pay the price that your freedom will cost you?” The lesson behind this story was the story not only that you can change your fate, you can earn your freedom but in order to do that, you need to know that there’s always a price to pay.  Its never a free lunch.  For her, it was meeting a witch and hoping that things would change, that her fate would change but of course, we know that course of events never simply go as planned and she learns in the process of the value of responsibility for your choices and actions, and of the costs of earning what you want, but most of all, it leads us to learn something else and thats the third concept in this movie that I enjoyed. The third concept was there because it wasn’t about romance or finding Prince Charming, instead they replaced it with a family bond, the mother-daughter relationship.  This was definitely an original idea, especially for Pixar.  It showed its new ideas to touch the screen.  It set itself apart from any other princess movie.  It lead us to pull our heartstrings and keep us attached to the characters.

Aside from portraying some fantastic themes, this animated feature was very appealing to watch.  Exactly what you would expect from Pixar of course, its a standard they’ve been good at.  All the characters added a bit to the storyline, whether it was to move the story along or simply to bring in a few laughs, it was absolutely worth it.  You could hear that they successfully made us attached to the characters as when certain things happened, you could hear the audience react.  In an animated feature, we don’t expect too much from acting, more tha vocal talent which I will look at later on.  We look at the storyline, the characters they’ve developed for it, the animation itself’s quality.  With Pixar, we never truly question the quality as they’ve always brought us the best.

Now, vocal talents. Queen Elinor was done by Emma Thompson and she was simply fantastic at it.  King Fergus was voiced by Bill Connolly and he gave the King a humorous and witty spirit. Merida was voiced by Kelly Macdonald and she was great at giving life to a rebellious princess.  We had the three sons of King and Queen and they were just silly little rascals who brought in laughs in the most serious situations.  I think that is really important, especially in animated features.  The tone should never tense up too much because it should be geared towards a more lighthearted crowd.

Overall, it as a great experience.  I enjoyed the fact that Pixar did a princess movie and gave it its own twist.  It was not only original for that but also the fact that it gave us a focus on family values and relationships.