Alice in Wonderland: A Whimsical Trip Down the Rabbit Hole

5 03 2010

Tim Burton and Johnny Depp team up once again for this highly anticipated return to Wonderland. Acting as a sequel to Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, Burton’s Alice in Wonderland has been long-awaited, not only for the dark tones and “Depp-ness” sure to permeate the film, but also because Disney’s new 3D spectacle has bumped Avatar from 3D theatres all over the country. And as any Hot Topic store in the world can attest, people just can’t get enough of Burton and Depp films. Here’s the breakdown:

Alice (Mia Wasikowska), now 19, faces real life; the death of her father, marriage, social responsibility. But she has one more adventure in store – a return to Wonderland (actually called “Underland” by its inhabitants). Having forgotten her previous adventures, the myriad Underland characters hope Alice has returned to save them from the evil Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) and her nefarious Jabberwocky, restoring the White Queen (Anne Hathaway) to the throne. With the help of a familiar cast of characters, including The Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), Alice must prove her worth and save Underland.

The Monkey: The film’s greatest strengths are its cast and its humor. Every actor was perfect for their role and delivered spot-on performances. Anne Hathaway’s White Queen elicited laughs every time she “floated” on-screen, and proved she has excellent comic timing. Helen Bonham Carter almost stole the show as the bulbous-headed Red Queen, shouting “Off with their heads!” and other outlandish lines with such gusto, you just know she was enjoying every minute of it. Of course, Johnny Depp did well; his best moments were the quieter ones, as his characters sinks into madness and starts spewing some of Lewis Carroll’s nonsensical poetry with Shakespearean conviction. Mia Wasikowska held her own against the all-star cast – I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot more of her in the future.

The film’s message was very empowering: Alice is never forced to save Underland, she makes the decision on her own. Similarly, once she returns to London, she gives up marriage to continue her father’s trading business (very modern of her).

The visuals were sufficiently other-worldly, and looked wonderful in 3D; however…

The Weasel: …the CGI was very “fake” looking. I realize Burton was aiming more for the “opium-laden-dream-feel” as opposed to a more realistic angle, but it’s established early on that Underland is real, making the distorted graphics a bit harder to stomach.

The story had several gaps in plot, most notably the Red and White Queens’ backstories. Why were they fighting? This seemed like a prime opportunity for Burton to expand on the Wonderland mythology, but the film fails to contribute anything substantial.

Overall, the film rode the precarious line between dark, action/adventure movie and whimsical kids’ movie – and was not wholly successful. In fact, a scene where the Dormouse plucks out the eye of the Bandersnatch seemed to come out of nowhere and made viewers sit back and wonder, “What kind of movie am I watching again? A fun kids’ movie or something darker?” It should have been much darker. The excitement generated by this film was based on the hope that Burton would bring some of his twisted creativity to an already twisted tale; however, it seems Burton was playing it safe, always pulling back from being too dark and obscure by throwing in a cartoonish character or ridiculously cliché action scene. The story was already a departure from the source material – he should have taken it one step further. (As a side note, I was hoping the movie would be closer to Frank Beddor’s The Looking Glass Wars. Not so.)

A fun adventure movie with a surprising amount of clever humor and fun 3D visuals? Yes! A truly original reinterpretation of Wonderland? Unfortunately, no.

3 Death Stars out of 5

What do you think? Was Alice in Wonderland everything you hoped it would be? Should it have been darker or more of a kids’ movie? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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One response

20 03 2010
7tavernadmin

Hi,

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7tavern Team
admin@7tavern.com

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