Sunday, March 21, 2010

Alice in Wonderland - Movie Review


Starring Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Crispin Glover and Matt Lucas.
Directed by Tim Burton.

There are two Lewis Carroll books: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and Through the Looking-Glass. I've seen several versions but I've never actually read them. I tried to read the original once, but about 70 pages in, Alice began to give me a headache. She was the ultimate one-track-mind character. Every time anyone said something, she'd react to that and dwell on it. This movie makes me want to give them another chance, but I've always liked the 1951 Disney version. I enjoyed the all-star mini-series they did in the 1980's. I remember Sammy Davis Jr. was the caterpillar. There was also a decent version about six or seven years ago where Martin Short was the Mad Hatter.

So here we have what is intended to be a sequel. Alice is now 19, a girl trapped in Victorian times. When we meet her stuffy fiance-to-be, we completely understand she can't jump back down a rabbit-hole soon enough. The twist is that Alice has no memory of her first journey to Wonderland.

The White Rabbit and others have sought her out to be their champion. In the books, the Queen of Hearts and the Red Queen were two different characters, but they're merged here into the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter). She's conquered Wonderland, now called Underland, and she has the jabberwocky as her champion.

Burton's sequel has some cool visuals, but other times it seems small. The sky's always cloudy, most of the forests are burnt out. The plot felt more like a Narnia sequel, with the build-up to the big battle.

Depp's Mad Hatter is another unique creation of his, and he's fine. Anne Hathaway is fine as the White Queen too. I enjoyed the Chessire Cat, the caterpillar, and the cast of characters we expect to meet. Weird to see them all allies though.

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