In the sequel to 2010’s Alice in Wonderland, Time (Sacha Baron Cohen) is “that classic buffoon who’s in charge but makes everyone else do all the work,” director James Bobin (The Muppets) tells EW.
As if the idea of Time as a self-assured idiot weren’t allegorical enough, his dark underworld castle — which looks like the mechanical insides of a Victorian clock — is populated with hundreds of little wind-up robot helpers called Seconds. And when Alice (Mia Wasikowska) steals the battery to Time’s grand clock, groups of 60 Seconds spring into action to become… wait for it… Minutes.
Here is what a few Seconds look like.
For the look of the Seconds, Bobin consulted a book of industrial-age tools — featuring tweezers, wrenches, and Allen keys. Meanwhile, the animation team (the Seconds are all CG) made them distinctive. “‘Minions’ is a word that we generally try to avoid,” animation supervisor Troy Saliba says with a laugh, “but we were leaning on body-language comedians like Mr. Bean and Buster Keaton.”
Time’s long-suffering manservant is Wilkins, a metal-mustachioed Second. He is steam-powered (note the exhaust pipe on his head, above) and can speak (Muppets actor Matt Vogel provides the voice), though the other Seconds communicate only in ticks and tocks. The cute, emerald-eyed robot propping up the book is “our little oil can with legs,” Bobin says. “He’s the curious puppy who always wants to help out.”
A Minute, of course, is roughly 60 Seconds meshed together — and a scarier entity. The robot eyes switch from a friendly green to an aggressive red. Then, when the grand clock is in danger of stopping, Bobin explains, “all the Minutes form into one ginormous 50-foot creature,” as shown in this early concept art (above). And his name, as if you have to ask, is the Hour.
Alice Through the Looking Glass, which reunites much of the cast from Alice in Wonderland, opens nationwide on May 27.
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