Belfast Telegraph

Alice in Wonderland: reader review

By Mike Bradford

Mia Wasikowska plays Alice, a 19 year old girl who is plagued by vivid dreams of a wondrous land where she meets an assortment of different characters.

At her engagement party, she catches sight of a White Rabbit (Michael Sheen) who beckons her to follow him. Overwhelmed by her natural curiosity, Alice follows him until she falls down (what seems to be) a never-ending hole. As soon as she reaches the bottom she is caught up in a non-stop adventure ride that introduces her to the characters from her dreams and forces her to face her fears and become a heroine.

This film was noticeably different than other Burton films (which may frustrate his fans a little) because he did not put his stamp on it. However, there is no doubt that Burton has done a very efficient job in creating the magical and ethereal ‘Wonderland’ for this movie. The Burton – Depp – Bonham-Carter Trio are out for the fourth time, and once again they don’t disappoint.

Johnny Depp brings a new and interesting perspective to the lovable Mad Hatter. Whilst his interchanging between an inexplicable Scottish accent and a very English lisp may leave some viewers wondering if perhaps this was the best portrayal of the Hatter, the fact is that Depp could have played him as Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean) and gotten away with it. He just has that quality as a great actor and he presents the Mad Hatter as someone who is fiercely loyal and whose emotions are always expressed on the surface. Coupled with the fact that he is mad and yet heart-warmingly endearing, this character is sure to be a favourite.

But this is not all that ‘Alice in Wonderland’ has to offer. There are many other big names in this movie who give very good performances. Helena Bonham-Carter does a great job in bringing the Red Queen (a cross between the Queen of Hearts and the Red Queen from Carroll’s novels) to life. She portrays her as delusional, funny and psychotic; these types of multiple and differing characteristics seem to be present in every character in ‘Wonderland’/’Underland’. Wasikowska does a good job playing the eponymous Alice as a girl-coming-of-age who refuses to be tied down and labelled. The effective presentation of many of Carroll’s other characters will definitely draw you into the magic of ‘Wonderland’; so much so that you won’t want it to end.

Kids will love this movie for the larger-than-life and colourful characters it introduces. However, with its darker side, this movie is also aimed at adults. This is one of the major differences that makes Burton’s adaption of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ stand out from all the others that have previously been created. In this version people lie, people die and decapitated heads decompose in the Red Queen’s moat. Every character is portrayed as being a mix between dark and light and it is the Hatter’s choice of words when he is “considering the letter ‘M’” that really sum up this dichotomy; “Moron, mutiny, murder, malice” - all of these are present in Burton’s production.

Whilst it has darker undertones, Burton constantly offsets these with comedy: Tweedledum and Tweedledee (Matt Lucas) and the lunatics at the tea party, the March Hare (Paul Whitehouse) in particular, all provide comic respite. Whilst Stayne (Crispin Glover) could probably have been more menacing, the acting is generally excellent all round with each actor/actress trying to bring something unique in this new take on ‘Alice in Wonderland’. The storyline is solid as Burton turns Carroll’s somewhat unconnected plot into a series of events that climax in a battle between good and evil.

A dream turned reality; ‘Alice in Wonderland’ should definitely leave you wanting more. This film was very entertaining, fun and comical. It is a movie that both children and adults will really enjoy.

Belfast Telegraph

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