Genre: Fantasy, adventure
Director/s: Tim Burton
Writer/s: Linda Woolverton
Running Time: 108 mins
Budget: $200 million
Released: 5 March 2010 (USA)
19-year-old Alice returns to the magical world from her childhood adventure, where she reunites with her old friends and learns of her true destiny: to end the Red Queen’s reign of terror – imdb
Initially I was very happy to hear that director Tim Burton would be doing an adaptation of Alice in Wonderland but then I discovered that Disney were behind it too which kind of flattened my hopes that this film would be enjoyable, (invariably Disney tend to screw up most things) the final nail in the coffin being a friend’s opinion that this new take on Alice in Wonderland wasn’t too great. So after waiting for it on DVD (no, I did not watch it in 3D shit-o-vision) I was pleasantly surprised by this version of the classic tale.
For starters, this film introduces Mia Wasikowska – somewhat of a newcomer to the acting game (round about 5 – 6 years), in the role of Alice. The choice to use a new face for the protagonist was quite refreshing and I think that she did a wonderful job of portraying Alice. Like most Burton films, the human characters have somewhat gaunt features (pale skin, blackness around the eyes) much like the characters in Sweeney Todd or Edward Scissorhands. Burton’s Alice in Wonderland isn’t an exact remake of the classic tale as the adventure takes place when Alice is in her teens (as opposed to the little girl from the original) as she revisits Wonderland with the supposed intention of having to redo all the things she initially did as a kid. However, this time around, Alice decides to deviate from the path much to the denizen’s dismay.
…Thankfully no one in this film suddenly broke out into song and dance in tradition Dis’may’ style…
Johnny Depp stars as The Mad Hatter and by far steals the show as his involvement in this film extends way beyond the character’s original segment at the tea party. Together with Alice, The Mad Hatter must confront the evil (and utterly insane) Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) and put a stop to her rule. Other characters include the eerily animated twins Tweedledee/Tweedledum, Cheshire Cat and Blue Caterpillar (voiced by Alan Rickman).
So of course with a budget of around $200 million one would expect to see some decent visuals and indeed there are, Wonderland has never looked better with its vibrant colours and creepy/weird landscapes. To compliment the scenery are plenty of weirdly distorted creatures, such as the Red Queen herself (she has one hell of a huge head) and anthropomorphic animals. Thankfully no one in this film suddenly broke out into song and dance (though Depp’s, thankfully short, break-dance sequence was painful to watch) in tradition Dis’may’ style and if anything, the story, world and characters are surprisingly dark (for a family film at any rate).
To conclude, Alice in Wonderland is an enjoyable film and not nearly as bad as people have been saying it is. Good visuals, entertaining characters and brisk pacing mean that you probably won’t be bored at any point though mature audiences may find the plot a bit mundane or predictable (hell, I could see what was coming but managed to enjoy it nonetheless) but if you’re a fan of fantasy films or have kids, you can’t really go wrong with this one.