Review: ALICE IN WONDERLAND
“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?” Alice : Alice in Wonderland (1951)
Alice in Wonderland has been one of my favorite tales since I was a little girl. It entwines magic, mystery and life lessons with its colorfully odd world. Being such a big fan, I was skeptical about how good a movie version would be compared to Lewis Carroll’s imaginative book. Having Tim Burton as the director helped to easy my worries a great deal.
Alice Kingsley (Mia Wasikowska) is a dreamer. She constantly thinks of things that others deem as nonsense, such as staring at birds and wondering what it would be like to fly. She has only one dream from slumber, and that is the reoccurring dream of a wondrous land where animals can speak and cats can smile. On this occasion, her mother has brought her to a party where she is forced to dance with a drab young chap named Hamish (Leo Bill) . She later finds out that it is her surprise engagement party, and when he asks for her hand, she runs! She doesn’t just run for the hills though, she runs after a white rabbit wearing a jacket and carrying a pocket watch. She chases him to a rabbit hole, and while looking down it for the rabbit, she falls inside.
When Alice finally lands from the impossibly long fall, she finds herself in a room that she has been in before. When she finally finds her way out of the room, she is greeted by the White Rabbit (Michael Sheen), Tweedledee and Tweedledum (Matt Lucas), and the Dormouse (Barbara Windsor), who are debating if she is the right Alice or not. They want the Alice who had visited their world years ago. It is only the real Alice that can fulfill the prophecy and defeat the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter). The Red Queen, accompanied by her Knave of Hearts, Stayne (Crispin Glover), stole the crown from the White Queen (Anne Hathaway), and started to destroy their Underland, which Alice always called Wonderland.
Along Alice’s way, she runs into a great deal of characters that help her along her journey, including the blue caterpillar (Alan Rickman), the Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry), and the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp). Together, they must deliver Alice to the White Queen so that she may defeat the Jabberwocky (Christopher Lee) and end the treacherous reign of the Red Queen.
This movie was fantastic! I cannot remember a movie that made me grin as much as this one. Wasikowska was stunning as Alice. She was strong, courageous, and spunky in a refined sort of way. Depp as the Mad Hatter was incredible. His Hatter was unlike any character that I have ever seen him play! I don’t think I have ever seen him as crazy, and slightly frightening, as he is in the scene where he is walking with Alice on his shoulder (I believe reciting the Jabberwocky poem). He was charismatic, passionate, and sometimes quite crazed in the eyes. Bonham Carter is always fantastic in villain roles, and I think she hit the nail on the head with this one. Although her character is one that I have seen her play before, it still works. She was complimented by Glover, who I think is sometimes underrated. Anyone who can claim to have fathered Marty McFly is ok in my book!
Tim Burton really did the book justice in this film. Although it is an adaptation, about her return to Wonderland as an older girl, I think that he stayed true to the characters, as well as the central themes in the book. I have several theories on why he made the character of Alice older, and one of them has to deal with a rumor that came about with the original Alice books(Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass), which was that Carroll was a pedophile. (Sidenote: There is no evidence that Carroll was a pedophile!) I don’t think that Burton would have ever been worried of being put in that category, but I do believe that by concentrating on an older Alice, he took away that questionable element and put the focus back on the story.
In the original story there were two queens of the color red. There was the Red Queen and The Queen of Hearts. In this film they are combined as one. This does not take away from the story or jeopardize the integrity of the book, however. They also make a pretty delightful reference in the beginning of the film, where Hamish’s mother makes reference to the roses in her garden. She discovers that the gardeners planted white roses when they were suppose to have planted red ones. The Queen of Hearts is the one who says this in the books, so it is a clever way for them to compare her to the villain.
The effects in this movie were unreal! I saw it in Disney Digital 3-D and I have to say, my mind was blown. The images popped right out at you(as opposed to some of the cheaper 3-D movies), and were carefully placed so that it fit into the story, unlike a lot of films that incorporate odd effects that don’t match up with the story, just to impress the audience. Even if it weren’t in 3-D, the images are still breathtaking. The colors and shapes used to create this magical world could not have been better.
There is only one complaint about the movie, and that is the song in the ending credits. Really? Avril Lavigne? I didn’t even know she was still making music, but apparently someone needs to put a stop to that ASAP! The song lyrics, mixed with her nasal voice were enough to make puppies cry and unicorns to lose their whimsical powers. Still, even her rotten stinker of a song couldn’t put a dent in my fantastic cinematic journey! Thank you Tim Burton for making this a magical, wondrous experience for me!
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5