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From the beginning, with his break out role as the quirky best friend to Hugh Grant's character in Notting Hill, Rhys Ifans has made a career out of being mad as a hatter. With more recent films like Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part I and The Amazing Spider-Man, Ifans has used that madness to his advantage in key roles for each respective franchise. As Xenophilius Lovegood and Dr. Curt Connors, the actor injected a sort of required paternal wisdom into a character that's generally unstable and morally neutral. If there were ever a role that would seem like the culmination of all of this work and skill, it would surely be that of the father to The Mad Hatter of Alice In Wonderland. It's just a shame that it's in Through The Looking Glass, the sequel to Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland.
The Wrap exclusively reported that Rhys Ifans is signed on to join fellow franchise freshman Sacha Baron Cohen, as well as returning players Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and Mia Wasikowska in the role of Zanik Hightopp. Zanik's pre-required character quirk is that he "cannot hide his bright colored hair beneath a top hat." Why he cannot hide his hair will probably be another one of those life lessons that we'll learn about once Alice completes whatever quest she's going on in Through The Looking Glass, much like how her heroism helped The Mad Hatter get his groove back in Alice In Wonderland.
The original Alice In Wonderland was a relatively tame and uneven affair that bored me to death, but seeing as it made over $1 Billion dollars through magic and more than likely blackmail, Disney obviously wants a sequel. Of course, since Tim Burton has moved on to weirder, Danny Elfman scored pastures with this fall's Big Eyes, there's a chance that Through The Looking Glass might function better under another director. Fortunately, that vacancy is filled by James Bobin, who has proven himself not only with reviving a dormant franchise but also at making a much improved sequel with The Muppets franchise.
Regardless of directorial talent, I'm not sure this is really that compelling of a project to move forward with. True, not as many people know about the sequels to the original Alice In Wonderland story. That much was confirmed when the new film itself acted as a sort of sequel in and of itself to the original adventures that we all learned about as children. But do we really want to know more about this world? Just because the film crossed a billion dollars doesn't mean the world is clamoring for more. At any rate, a new director and the refreshing quirkiness of Rhys Ifans might be enough to make Through The Looking Glass a film worth watching.
Through The Looking Glass breaks loose on May 27th, 2016.