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It's been six years since Alice went down the rabbit hole in Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland."
Since then, Mia Wasikowska has established herself as a leading lady, but the 26-year-old returns to play Lewis Carroll's mischievous creation in the Warner Bros. sequel, "Alice Through the Looking Glass," which is set for a big Memorial Day splash.
The film is being helmed by James Bobin, an English director known for his television work on "Da Ali G Show," "Flight of the Conchords" and the recent "Muppet" movies.
Producer Suzanne Todd, who worked on the first "Alice," notes that it's always difficult for directors to come in after another one has set something in motion, especially someone so iconoclastic as Burton.
Burton's vision for "Alice" was, unsurprisingly, very "Burton-esque dark, moody romantic," Todd says.
On the other hand, Bobin brought "a lighter take" to "Through the Looking Glass."
The director calls Lewis Carroll as "surrealist satirist," whose particular brand of English comedy could still be seen in The Goon Squad during the 1950s and Monty Python in the 1970s. "It has never gone away. It certainly helped shape my comedy tastes growing up in the '80s."
To translate "Through the Looking Glass" a combination of live action and CGI onto the screen proved to be a bit more difficult storywise, though. The book by Carroll was set up as something of a chess match, filled with what seems like silly poems and literary gibberish.
Carroll, whose real was Charles Dodgson, was an Oxford mathematician, who, Bobbin points out, "specialized in pure math and unusual algorithms." So his books made "mathematical sense" to him, even if they seemed like nonsense to others.
Bobin says the challenge was to honor the complexity of the story, but still "make sure that my daughter, who is 8, understood it."
To give the tale some flow, the filmmakers added the character of Time, who will be played by Sacha Baron Cohen.
Actually, Bobin observes, Carroll invented him, in a way, referring to Time as a person in Alice's first encounter with the Mad Hatter in "Wonderland." In the new film, Alice returns to the fantastical realm of Underland to save the Hatter (played by Johnny Depp), who has lost his "Muchness."
Time, says Todd, may look like a villain in the piece, "but really is a bit of a buffoon."
As for Alice, after her time in Wonderland she spent years following in her father's footsteps and sailing the high seas.
"In the first film, Alice was awkward, uncomfortable and less sure of herself," Wasikowska says. "In this one, she has just spent a year the captain of a ship and has come back feeling very empowered with a stronger sense of herself."
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