Director: Tim Burton
Writer: Lewis Carrol
What a trip!
Despite numerous films portraying Lewis Carroll’s tale of Alice in Wonderland, Tim Burton’s gothic varnished tale of being lost in Wonderland hit the nail on the head. Burton’s magical story turned a once, Disney musical cartoon into a 3D adventure of mystery and excitement for the whole family.
20-year-old Mia Wasikowska played the protagonist, Alice Kingsly, well. Her dainty physique and ordinary appearance meant that her character could be easily related to. After Alice abandons a surprise engagement party thrown for her, she accidently re-discovers Wonderland or ‘Underland’ as the residents call it. Kinglsy made sure that Alice was down-to-earth and neutral enough for the audience to relate to in the unfamiliar land and out-of-this-world characters that Alice contrasts with throughout the film.
Alice encounters our favourite characters from the Tweedles (Matt Lucas) to the classic Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) who were included in our unforgettable journey through Wonderland. Every character was brilliantly portrayed with the most memorable, of course, being Johnny Depp’s witty character, The Mad Hatter, whose maddening personality seemed to be the heart of Wonderland. Depp’s performance was undoubtedly convincing with the audience’s emotions changing as the Hatter’s did. From being sympathetic toward Hatter’s loneliness and despair over the Red Queen’s (Helena Bonham Carter) destruction of the land, to the aggressive and spooky Scottish man he frequently became throughout the film.
The fantastically convincing post-production effects and the use of green screens created a trippy and fantastical trip to and through the land. (Although one may wonder if it would have been a load easier and cheaper to do the entire thing animated).
The environment of Wonderland, particularly in 3D, put the audience in the shoes of Alice with faultless attention to detail. As for the characters, The Red Queen’s head was enlarged which was very well done; it portrayed her big-headedness physically which matched her selfish acts. The unusual eyes of characters such as the March Hare, The Mad Hatter and the Cheshire Cat captured the audience’s attention which involved them in the journey of the characters. I think the eyes of characters are the most important detail of their physique, which Burton attended to with skill.
The music composed by the incredible Danny Elfman was the cherry on top for this captivating movie. Elfman, who has composed for most of Burton’s films including Edward Scissorhands and Big Fish, stuck to his very traditional/stereotypical mix of choir, horror based music and melodic stringed instruments which matched the visuals perfectly. Elfman has never failed intertwining contrasting ideas, such as the innocence of Alice and the strange jungle of Wonderland, into nothing less than a masterpiece.
The overall storyline of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland was the perfect addition of Lewis Carroll’s story and Tim Burton’s signature techniques of story-telling. However, the secret world of Narnia and the evil Queen came to mind throughout the film which didn’t give Alice in Wonderland a very unique or alternative storyline like Burton’s films usually have.
The White Queen, portrayed by Anne Hathaway, was obviously instructed to be the fairytale, almost stereotypical princess which unfortunately did not quite translate as it appeared fake and cringe-worthy. I felt like I was thrown out of the fantastical world with reality hitting like a slap to the face. Despite this, however, the philosophical script kept the film interesting, meaningful and fresh.
The director, Tim Burton, can always be relied upon for the best dark, fantasy-themed movies, and he has lived up to his reputation once again. Burton mentioned that he had not been satisfied with a version of Alice In Wonderland since the book. I agree, and I think that this film will most likely be the final version we will see.
The cast were fantastic and the post production techniques are impressive and live up to today’s high film expectations, especially since the release of Avatar. Burton’s film, Alice in Wonderland, is a recommended view.
Jodie’s rating: 7/10