Alice In Wonderland
Burton’s take on Alice In Wonderland deviates slightly from the premise of the books, in that it stars an older Alice, around 19 years old, who has no recollection that she visited Wonderland as a little girl, making this more of a sequel that an adaptation. This may bother a few Alice aficionados, and truthfully frightened me slightly upon first hearing of it, but it leads to a great new story that creates more closure than what was provided by Through the Looking Glass.
From the beginning, Alice is portrayed as being a little odd. She has an active imagination and flouts common tradition. After discovering that she is on the receiving end of an unwanted engagement, she runs off after a curious little rabbit and finds herself tumbling down a large hole. After reaching Underland (as it’s referred to by its residents) she meets a few interesting characters, like Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee and the White Rabbit. They take her to see the Blue Caterpillar, who informs them that this is not “the Alice.” A prophecy states that on the Frabjous Day, ‘Alice’ will be the one to slay the Jabberwocky. It was the White Rabbit’s mission to go top-side and find Alice so that she can fulfill the prophecy.
Most of the Alice In Wonderland lore is well-woven into Tim Burton’s vision. From the meeting of the Mad Hatter and the March Hare, to the introduction of The Cheshire Cat, Burton’s interpretations ring true to the source material. But Burton puts his own twist on things by using some bizarre imagery (a tiny Alice using floating heads as stepping stones to cross a grotesque moat comes to mind). But these are the sorts of things we have come to expect from Tim Burton. He pulls it off quite well.
Much of the film’s success will likely be due to Johnny Depp. In recent memory, Depp has been able to bring depth and charm to even the shallowest of characters. He has even shown audiences that he can play grand and twisted characters like Willy Wonka and Sweeny Todd. So Burton’s choice of Depp as the Mad Hatter seems to make sense. And for the most part, it works. Although there were a few things that I questioned, such as Depp’s numerous outbreaks into a Scottish accent. I assume this was intentional to help drive home the point of just how mad the Hatter is, but most of it seemed unnecessary. I also failed to see the humor in the Hatter’s dance at the end of the film. It worked for Bruce Willis in The Last Boy Scout because of how downplayed and comical it was. But the other characters took the Hatter far too seriously at this point, and it just lacked whatever Burton and the writer were trying to accomplish.
The other actors manage their parts fairly well, although nothing overly spectacular. Helena Bonham Carter really shone as the Red Queen, bringing to life her maniacal instability with aplomb. Anne Hathaway didn’t do much with the role of the White Queen, adding very little other than being a mechanism to move the plot forward. I was slightly surprised to see Crispin Glover in the film, and, in the end, could have done without him. His character served merely as a villainous foil and most likely could have been written out of the script. Alan Rickman and Stephen Fry provide their voice talents to the roles of the Blue Caterpillar and the Cheshire Cat respectively. Though their roles are merely spoken, they manage the characters well and add a little extra credibility to the cast lineup. Mia Wasikowska plays Alice nicely, though she really is up against no other competition in the role.
I can’t comment on the 3D of the film, having seen it in standard 2D, which is fine with me. The fact that so many movies are being released in 3D lately is beginning to annoy me since I see very little redeeming qualities in the choice. I was, however, worried that by seeing Alice In Wonderland in 2D would be just as irritating with all of the distracting 3D elements, but that wasn’t the case. The editors and special effects guys must have done a fantastic job with the 3D so that it doesn’t detract from a standard viewing, and I much appreciate that.
Though not perfect, Alice In Wonderland is a brilliant movie. Guided by Tim Burton’s vision, it’s a fantastic reimagining of the classic tale. Burton weaves the wonderful scenery with some grisly imagery which makes me wonder about its suitability for children; but all in all, the bright colors and wacky characters will manage to draw and hold their attention. If you’re a fan of Burton or the Alice stories, you will enjoy this.
Posted by Michael Wirth at 10:21 AM