Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland review

Posted on 13 March 2010
By Toni Garden
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If the latest figures stand to prove anything it is the sheer pulling power that 3D has. With last year seeing UP and Avatar take on 3D and returning prophets victoriously, it seemed 3D was a novelty to be cashed in on.

But now with Alice In Wonderland knocking Avatar from it’s opening weekend glory and taking just over $116 million(Approx £77m),it would appear that Burton’s latest gothic mix of live action and CGI has not only captured cinema goers’ imagination, but taken it hostage.

Burton is once again collaborating with his most successful creative team including; his wife Helena Bonham Carter, long time friend and muse Johnny Depp and musical master Danny Elfman.

Tim Burton has also cast some of the biggest names in British talent, including Stephen Fry as the delectable Cheshire cat and Matt Lucas bringing twice the fun as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. Such a fantastic cast and budget has set the bar higher than ever before.

Depp takes ‘Mad’ to the max making the Mad-Hatter’s red hair almost orange, his face discoloured and sallow, his cheeks a bright red and fingertips bandaged and dirty.

Despite making a lasting first impression on the audience, the Hatter’s appearance also serves as the markings of the hat-maker’s disease of mercury poisoning, giving the reason behind his character’s state of mind.

But what is reasoning if the script allows no room for development of said character? The American children’s writer Linda Woolverton, who has worked with Disney previously on two of Disney’s big hitters.

Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King, were enlisted to create a script that leant itself to live-action as well as keeping fantasy at the forefront.

The result is a mediocre story that has drawn from both of Carroll’s Wonderland and Looking Glass, but used a different framing to focus more on Alice discovering who she is – opposed to who society expects her to be.

Alice(played by newcomer Mia Wasikowska), now the rebellious and fantasy filled daughter of the imperial entrepreneur Charles Kingsleigh, whose recent demise brings about the odd dreams that haunted Alice’s subconscious as a child.

His demise also means the loss of the man and income to the Victorian household, meaning Alice is about to be married off to the spineless son of Lord Ascot.

Fleeing the prospective suitor and grand engagement party she follows a white rabbit down a hole, leading her to a nightmarish unknown forest where she must face adversity alone.

Feeling flat and overdeveloped in story but undeveloped in character, Woolverton has created a script that is neither particularly funny nor spellbinding. The film takes on a quest like plot and leaves little to surprise or embellish.

Overreaching and trying to fit in as many details from Through the Looking Glass, our Alice is left seeking the Vorpel, the only sword that can defeat the Jabberwocky and end the tyrannous reign of the Red Queen (played by Helena Bonham Carter with the precise malice and delirium inspired by Miranda Richardson’s Queenie from Blackadder).

The final battle see’s the White Queen (played by Anne Hathaway) come head to head with her sister and nemesis the Red Queen before Alice must take her place and kill the Jabbawocky in a St George’s style contest.

Alice’s return home is a final turn for female empowerment; a theme which runs throughout the film. On high from her battle against her own dragon, Alice sets out to forge her course, declining marriage and taking leave as an independent woman seeking adventure.

A predictable ending for this coming of age tale, but worth a look for an enjoyable performance from Johnny Depp and Tim Burton’s particular Wonderland.

Alice in Wonderland is now showing at Picturehouse at FACT.