March 7, 2010
Review - " Alice in Wonderland " - (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
For comments or to submit a movie review for possible inclusion on Delta Films site
please send an email to Critics@deltafilms.net
Alice in Wonderland
Directed by: Tim Burton
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham
Carter, Crispin Glover, Anne Hathaway
What can I say? The story of Alice in Wonderland is an old
one. Written by Lewis Carroll, it’s about a young girl who gets
lost, falls down a rabbit hole and finds herself in a strange land
filled with fantastical creatures and crazy people and she has to
find a way home. This version has a twist however… I’m not
going to tell you the twist. It’s better if you see it for yourself.
Make no mistake. This film is probably NOT a kid’s movie. Yes,
it is about Alice in Wonderland but if you want your young and
impressionable children to know this story, I suggest the 1951
Disney animated version… or just read them the books. This
film has a dark demeanor and some parts are a little gruesome.
You see eyes poked out and when Alice has to cross the castle
moat there is a horrible moment of realization when you see it
is not stones she is stepping on but decapitated human heads.
Brilliant imagery, and it does answer that age old question of
where heads go after they are removed from someone’s body,
but nevertheless it is gruesome.
Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter is very good and I can just see
hundreds of Depp wannabes tossing aside their homemade
Jack Sparrow outfits, donning the orange wig and top hat and
madly practicing their Scottish accents in front of the mirror. It’s
interesting. I’ve never seen the Hatter as Scottish but I heard
that each character was symbolic of different countries around
the world and the downtrodden Scottish definitely fits with the
Mad Hatter’s rebellious streak. Also, it made sense when you
saw a full length shot of Depp and his character is wearing a
kilt (something I failed to notice until the very end of the movie).
At some stages Johnny’s accent was so thick I had no idea what he was saying but I think that was the point. And the random
mention of fezzes was something that I found absolutely hilarious. I’m sure my laughing was a little too loud but what could I
do? It was funny, and how else was I going to prove in this room full of strangers that I was the biggest Johnny Depp fan in
the known universe? Another thing I noticed, and it might have just been me, was a little romantic undercurrent between the
Hatter and Alice. You know, like at the end of The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy says, “I’ll miss you most of all Scarecrow”.
When you were little you were always like, “But why?” and then as you got older you were like, “Ohhhhhh”. There was
definitely a miss-you-most-of-all moment in this film.
I thought the exaggeration of limbs and eyes and such would freak me out. I have to say when I watched the trailer for this
film I got a little huffy at Burton for messing with Johnny Depp’s beautiful, beautiful eyes, but after watching the movie I realise
it was just part of the odd off-balance look that Burton wanted to give this movie. And it works very well. Also, I really didn’t
mind his trademark curly trees because it actually worked within the context of the movie.
I liked the fact that there were actors that I could pick out by their voices. Alan Rickman as the Blue Caterpillar was an easy
one to spot. I would know that contempt for everything anywhere. Matt Lucas as Tweedledum and Tweedledee was easy to
spot as well and his face rendered into the centre of two fat little heads was pretty funny to watch. Crispin Glover playing a
creepy thin man can’t go wrong (he’s very good at it). And of course Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway were
excellent as well. Keep an eye out for Anne’s elbows in this movie. It’s hilarious. But I think the person who I was most
impressed with in this film was Mia Wasikowska. I have never seen her in anything before in my life (or I should say I never
noticed her - she was in Amelia) and I thought she was brilliant. She has a very interesting face and I liked the sullen
quality she brought to the character of Alice.
Despite the Disney tag, this is very much
Burton’s movie and he provides the same,
splendid shadowy frisson for kids that he
achieved in The Nightmare Before Christmas
and Edward Scissorhands.
The story was quite thrilling and involving.
I got half way through the movie and realized
I hadn’t written anything as I normally do
because I was too involved in the film. And
then you have the silent swearing moment
followed by the madly trying to remember what
came before while still watching moment…it
was tough but I did it. Overall, I enjoyed it.
Some bits of animation weren’t particularly
smooth (the knave of heart’s horse) but
overall the dark and dirty feel of this movie
was well executed. So get out there and
give this one a go.