Alice in Wonderland (2010) ♥♥♥½ out of ♥♥♥♥

“I believe six impossible things before breakfast” – AliceJohn Tenniel illustration Wikipedia

Alice in Wonderland has been in my consciousness since my earliest encounters with the Lewis Carroll stories. Alice in Wonderland 1951 Sawyer ViewmasterTheir accompanying John Tenniel illustrations both fascinated and troubled me. The 1952 Viewmaster version, and the 1951 Disney Animated film collaborated to produce images in my mind that would become the fodder of nightmares.

Now Tim Burton brings “Alice in Wonderland” to the theater screen. However, this time the nightmarish world of Wonderland is skillfully crafted and realized by experts who helped create the world of “Avatar”.

Alice, now a teenager, is starting to feel the pressures of grown up life. She’s able to escape reality when she follows a mysteriously dressed rabbit to his burrow. As she falls down down the rabbit hole there’s a wonderful transition between the real world above and the fantasy world that awaits below.copyright Disney 2010

Sampling both the “drink me” bottle and the “eat me” cake, Alice gets to change sizes several times, and to our delight it’s all handled quite realistically. In a scene not unlike that in the “Wizard of Oz”, Alice opens the tiny door to enter the fantastic world of Wonderland. Here we get to see the lush detailing and conceptualization of this fantasy world and it’s bizarre inhabitants.

The characters she meets are wonderful and highly detailed. They’ve all met Alice before, but she’s unable to remember the encounter. The Blue Caterpillar (voiced by Alan Rickman) is suitably mysterious, puffing continually on a hookah and the Cheshire Cat (voiced by Stephen Fry) is both creepy and vaporous.

Special CGI effects give nightmarish qualities to the characters. Johnny Depp’s large eyes and the Red Queen’s bulbous head are but a few of the graphic treats that the movie holds in store. The highly detailed army of marching cards is entirely menacing and certainly much more convincing than the paper thin Queen’s guards that the 1951 film offered.

Johnny Depp, as the Mad Hatter, brings in a great performance and as usual he melds himself to the role. At times I found the Mad Hatter to be almost a bit too sane, unlike the over-the-top 1951 Hatter. Depp gives a touching performance as a tormented soul who quickly forms a strong bond with Alice. Anne Hathaway offers a somewhat pedestrian performance as the mostly inneffectual White Queen.

The final battle sequence reminds us of the recent “Chronicles of Narnia” (2005) in which all the characters in the film are rounded up for one last melee. Whether or not Alice is supposed to remind us of Joan of Arc is inconsequential. Her glistening armor is a wonderful touch of costuming, and the sword fight with the Jabberwocky (voiced by Christopher Lee) should satisfy most action fans.

Please be forewarned that despite it’s PG rating, this is not a film for those under 13. There’s several disturbing scenes such as floating decapitated heads in the Red Queen’s moat, eye piercings and a decapitation during the final battle scene.

Tim Burton’s vision brings this timeless story to life on the screen. A recommended film, both for it’s wonderful special effects and a new take on a classic story.


Tim Burton

Mia Wasikowska … Alice

Johnny Depp … Mad Hatter

Helena Bonham Carter … Red Queen

Anne Hathaway … White Queen

Alan Rickman … Blue Caterpillar

Stephen Fry … Cheshire Cat

Running time: 108m.

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2 Responses to “Alice in Wonderland (2010) ♥♥♥½ out of ♥♥♥♥”

  1. Great post! I haven’t seen ‘Alice in Wonderland’ by Tim Burton yet, but will probably check it out after reading your review. Thanks!

  2. Tim Burton has a wonderfully-wicked eye. I have not seen this yet, and as often as I get to the theaters these days, I will probably end up watching it on DVD, but I look forward to the experience. =)