Alice in Wonderland
I foresee many Mad Hatter costumes this next Halloween and rightfully so, all the costumes were magnificent along with the Makeup and art direction. That tends to be a commonality in Tim Burton films and ALICE IN WONDERLAND is no exception. Unfortunately, like another commonality of his recent work, it lacks that bit of substance with a lasting impression that would make it complete.
ALICE IN WONDERLAND is not a remake or retelling of the original story, but actually a whole different story of Alice returning to Wonderland as a 19-year-old, who must realize her destiny and choose her journey to destroy the Red Queen’s dragon, the Jabberwocky, to end her reign of terror…a la THE LORD OF THE RINGS style. Alice is unaware of ever being in Wonderland as a child, except from her dreams. In her “regular” life, Alice has recently lost her father, who seemed to be the only one who understood her whimsical manner, and is expected to marry a man whom she does not love before chasing the famous White Rabbit (voiced by Michael Sheen) down the hole all over again. Alice does unknowingly repeat some of her steps from the original story line and meets a few of her original friends along the way, including Tweedledee and Tweedledum (voiced by Matt Lucas), the Blue Caterpillar (voiced by Alan Rickman) and my personal favorite, the Chesire Cat (voiced by Stephen Fry). They all help her on her path and most get kidnapped by the Red Queen in doing so, but none more helpful than the Mad Hatter, who Alice will miss most of all…a la Scarecrow from THE WIZARD OF OZ style.
All the voice actors did a wonderful job and Mia Wasikowska as Alice was terrific. She definitely brought a more a likeability to the role than the younger version of Alice that I’m use to. Johnny Depp as the Hatter showed his usual charisma and oddness he brings to a role. But am I being a little too picky when I think the Mad Hatter just wasn’t quite mad enough? I’m use to a little more nonsensical Hatter rather than a sane, right-hand man for the White Queen (Anne Hathaway). Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing Johnny Depp. The film is much better with him in it, but I do think the script created a more watered down version of the Hatter, so he might relate to Alice a little better. The big stand out was Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen who is wickedly cruel and funny at the same time. Her quips and meanness coming out of her unusually gargantuan head made me giggle out loud more than a couple of times.
The adventure and story worked in it’s own way except for the last act which seemed to fall into a formulaic hole itself. In typical Hollywood fashion the film ends with a big action sequence that doesn’t really offer anything new or fresh. I found it a little tired and easy with each side matching up in their own battle that lacked creativity. And while technically great the colors seemed a little muted rather than vibrant. The Red Queen is ruling so Wonderland is a little more dark and run down than usual but through my 3D glasses any object in the background seemed a little flat and fuzzy.
ALICE IN WONDERLAND is enjoyable enough for adults, but minus a few dark moments, will work mostly for kids. It is visually creative but after AVATAR, I may be a little spoiled when it comes to the look of a 3D film. While Alice In Wonderland was neat it just didn’t live up to the standard of AVATAR before it.