Like Alice falling down a rabbit hole and discovering (or re-discovering) a magical land the audience get to experience a beautiful fantasy world full of bizarre and wonderful characters. Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland is for me nothing short of a piece of filmic mastery. Released on 6th March in both 2D and 3D, Alice in Wonderland, from Disney, tells the tale of a 19 year-old Alice, played by Australian newcomer Mia Wasikowska who returns to Wonderland to fulfill her destiny. It isn’t a remake of the classic Lewis Carroll books (Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and what Alice found there); it’s a sequel where unfinished business is dealt with.
Alice in Wonderland
* * * *
Helena Bonham Carter
Wasikowska’s performance at times felt a little lacking, almost like she herself was very misty eyed and blank but that might just be a portrayal of a confused Alice and in that sense it works and overall, bringing the character to life rather fittingly.During an important garden party Alice gets distracted when she spots the white rabbit which leads her eventually into following it and falling back down the hole. The story follows her through wonderland re-meeting the characters she’d already met as a child, although not remembering them at first, she learns more and more about Wonderland (or Underland as it’s called in the film) and learns of her path and destiny which results in a battle between the White Queen and Red Queen.
The characters and setting are believable and very akin to the books along with re-occurring themes and some events which do appear in them epically in Through the Looking Glass. We see the usual Burton, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter trio once again, however it isn’t a problem. Carter plays the role of the red queen superbly and offers comical one-liners that have the audience laughing. The only confusion perhaps for some viewers is the mixing of the Red Queen and Queen of Hearts into one character, but I don’t think it posses too much of a problem. The portrayal of The White Queen with her chess pieces and the Queen of Hearts with her cards is rather amusing and visually entertaining. The White Queen herself played by Anne Hathaway is interesting, she’s pale and angelic and completely dressed in white yet has black nail varnish and gothic make-up, in a way this makes her look even more pure but you can read it that not all good is entirely good just like no evil is entirely evil. Burton adds something a little extra to consider with the characters at least. Stayne (The Knave of hearts) played by Crispin Glover is probably the creepiest of the characters in the film, oversized but powerful in an odd sort of way, he plays the part to a tee with the right amount of grovelling to make him seem pathetic but believable in an odd way.
Depp’s performance as the Mad Hatter was hilarious and also tragic in the way that you feel a lot of empathy for him. There is another theme which runs consistently throughout the film, the theme of romance, I wondered if it was just me but the romantic tension that we’re presented with between the hatter and Alice is something many have noticed. There have always been speculations even with the books of a romantic attachment and the film presents us with this now of course that Alice in much older. There’s something bizarre and beautiful there it’s very innocent and both subtly written and acted but it’s definitely there and adds an interesting element to a much-loved tale.
The CGI was almost perfection to me and despite claims that the 3D was rubbish I would disagree and say I noticed it far less, it wasn’t distracting just engaging and helped you see the world through Alice’s eyes. It was beautifully constructed with a fantastic, if not slightly expected score from Danny Elfman. The Cheshire cat voiced by Stephen Fry and the Caterpillar Absalom voiced by Alan Rickman were two of the key triumphs in the movie with seamless CGI and bringing much loved ‘fairytale’ characters to life. Barbara Windsor as the Dormouse was rather cute, although in the books the dormouse is sleepy it is far livelier here but somehow it works and both the March Hare and the Tweedle Boys (played by Matt Lucas) add some comic relief to moments which are more serious.
Whether you watch it in 2D or 3D, and whether you’ve read the books or not, make sure this is the one film you do watch this month, it in itself is an exciting trip through Wonderland, not to be missed!