Alice in Wonderland
Review by Jack Foley
TIM Burton seems like a natural choice for delving into the world of Alice in Wonderland that was first created so vividly by Lewis Carroll’s classic novels. Fortunately, he does not disappoint.
A sequel of sorts that incorporates elements of both Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass, it’s a film that engagingly combines the darkness inherent in a lot of the director’s past work with the crowd-pleasing elements befitting this type of blockbuster.
It looks fantastic and feels very Burton-esque but should equally appeal to fans of Carroll’s source material by virtue of its similar themes and the look of its John Tennial-inspired characters.
If there’s a criticism, it’s that some of the 3D visuals feel unnecessary and get in the way of the characterisation… distracting you a little too much and thereby reducing its lasting emotional impact.
But kids of all ages should enjoy immersing themselves into the world that Burton has created, and the film does offer the distinct possibility of many repeat views.
The plot picks up as 19-year-old Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is asked for her hand in marriage by a snobby suitor, only to find herself transported back through the rabbit hole to Underland and into the middle of a dark chapter in its history.
The White Queen (Anne Hathaway) is in exile and Underland’s inhabitants are living in fear of the tyrannical Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter), and view Alice as their only hope of bringing about a change in fortune.
With the help of The Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), Alice sets about fulfilling her destiny and acquiring the tools required for her to fight and defeat the fearsome Jabberwocky.
First and foremost, credit must go to Burton for creating a vivid Underland that really does succeed in firing our imagination. For a film so heavily reliant on visual effects, it captivates from start to finish, even though some of them feel over-indulged (most notably, Crispin Glover’s Knave of Hearts, who doesn’t really need to have been a digital creation!).
But the environments, palaces and creatures are a treat and cleverly combine Burton’s Gothic flair with Carroll’s past descriptions.
The performances, too, are excellent with Wasikowska, in particular, excelling as Alice. The rapidly emerging young actress expertly combines the teenage angst, insecurity and petulance required.
Carter, too, makes a wonderfully OTT Red Queen, there’s typically reliable vocal support from the likes of Stephen Fry, Alan Rickman and Michael Sheen and Johnny Depp adds plenty of madness and humanity to the Mad Hatter.
Ironically, it’s the smaller moments that satisfy the most… Depp’s poignant interplay with Wasikowska is often quite touching and much more effective than his mad Scottish outbursts, while the fine eye for Underland’s smaller details is worth paying close attention to.
So, while Alice in Wonderland isn’t without criticisms and doesn’t quite rate among Burton’s very best work, it remains an appealing and highly enjoyable experience that offers something to appeal to audiences of every age.
Running time: 108mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: June 4, 2010
- Buy it on DVD (Amazon)
- Buy it on Blu-ray (Amazon)
- Read our review
- Johnny Depp interview
- Tim Burton interview
- Mia Wasikowska interview
- Anne Hathaway interview
- Helena Bonham Carter interview
- Alice in Wonderland: Movie Photos
- Alice in Wonderland: Concept Art Gallery 1
- Alice in Wonderland: Concept Art Gallery 2
- Alice in Wonderland: Concept Art Gallery 3