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Movie Review: Alice in Wonderland

Samantha Lee
Samantha Lee

Having read a couple of reviews about Alice in Wonderland, I went to see this movie with the idea that might not be worth it.

The general consensus seemed to be basically lower your expectations; Tim Burton sacrifices the film’s heart for the visual effects; there’s no emotional depth; too much Disney, not enough Burton. And Johnny Depp is pretty much Jack Sparrow with orange hair.

Without going into any technical detail, dropping any preconceived notions, and looking purely at the film as someone who loves movies and wants to see an entertaining film- this one did it for me.

Director Tim Burton and writer Linda Woolverton have pulled from but not adhered strictly to, Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Anyone looking for a mirror image of the books is going to be disappointed- this is an interpretation, in the loosest sense of the word.

 The story is basically that a 19-year old Alice (Mia Wasikowska) falls down the rabbit hole, returning to Wonderland. Whether or not she is actually the Alice required is a matter of some debate, as apparently the Wonderland characters have been searching for a champion for some time to defeat the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) and restore the White Queen (Anne Hathaway) to the throne. Alice gets drawn in to the quest, with the help of the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), the Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry) and the Caterpillar (Alan Rickman), to name a few.

The plot is a good one, given that trying to dilute two books and your own ideas into two hours is not an easy task.

Stephen Fry and Alan Rickman get some of the best lines, and Helena Bonham Carter, while not as ‘evil’ as one might hope, still delivers a believable, three dimensional character with her usual flair.

The costumes are fantastic, and the assorted CGI creatures are mostly very visually effective (the Cheshire Cat is a bit worrisome, but Stephen Fry more than makes up for it by providing the voice.)

Johnny Depp, hands down, gets the prize for Maddest Hatter- he also does a most excellent recitation of Jabberwocky. It has been said he lapses into a Scottish accent for no apparent reason...well, yes, he does- but he’s the Mad Hatter- I don’t think much more of an explanation is necessary, really. The Burton/Depp pairing for Wonderland has resulted in another character you will remember for its vividness, at the very least. 

I loved the added extras “Why don’t you paint the roses red?” from Alice, when her potential Mother-in-Law complains about the colour. “Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast” is a direct quote from the book and is used in the movie to good effect.

The Jabberwocky looks almost exactly like the original illustration from the book, by Sir John Tenniel- and the picture used to described The Frabjous Day in the movie is rendered to look like this picture also.

I thought Tim Burton did well for it being a Disney film (how dark can you go, really?).

The characters were all a little off centre as per Burton’s style; the visuals were stunning; the story interesting if not incredibly layered.

The only complaint I really had was that Alice could have shown a couple of extra facial expressions, and that the White Queen’s eyebrows could have been dyed white (trust me, now that I’ve pointed it out, you won’t stop thinking about it.)

I’m picking on Anne Hathaway, as usually I like her films but in this but she was a little bit...fluttery. To be fair, there is a point where it’s evident that this is an act, and there is a scene where she’s more fluttery/twisted-and-weird than fluttery/annoying, but for the most part I vote she’s a little off-putting.

However, I absolutely recommend you go to see it- it will let you suspend disbelief for a couple of hours, you’ll get some great effects, some Johnny Depp madness, and a good storyline- and you walk away feeling like you’ve connected to the movie- what more do you need?

Rating 8/10.

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