Alice in Wonderland: review

Posted on: 09/03/2010

By Kirstie Dyke

Film: Alice in Wonderland

Starring: Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham- Carter

Director: Tim Burton

Rating: *** 1/2

Fans of Lewis Carroll’s The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland will be disappointed; Tim Burton’s Alice is hardly recognisable from the ones who have gone before. Sure, there is a cake that makes Alice taller, a drink that makes Alice smaller and most of the much-loved characters remain (although I did notice the absence of my favourites, the Mock Turtle and the Duchess with her pig baby.)

Burton decides to create a 19 year old Alice, who revisits the place she once thought was only alive in her nightmares as a child. The nightmarish and gothic quality for which Burton is famous continues throughout the film constructing a visually fantastic and mesmerising ‘wonderland’ with great attention to detail – watch out for the furniture assembled by monkeys in the Red Queen’s castle. However, the ‘disneyfication’ of the story is clear, the film isn’t as dark as many Burton fans will expect.

The post production 3D effects are used successfully, although without the sense of reality that films such as Avatar have brought to our screens recently. There are plenty of objects flung at the audience for entertainment value and the scene where Alice falls down the rabbit hole left me feeling a little motion sick – although I am yet to decide whether this was a good thing or not.

The cast is full of famous names, including bizarrely, our very own Barbara Windsor whose cockney tones are clearly recognisable as the voice of the Dormouse. The voiced CGI characters are some of the strongest of the whole cast, I particularly enjoyed Stephen Fry as the Cheshire Cat and Paul Whitehouse as the crockery throwing March Hare.

If anything, it is Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter who pulls the film down, he seems to just play an amalgamation of all his previous strange characters and you can’t help but to watch thinking, “That was a bit like Willy Wonka” or “I swear he did that in Pirates of The Caribbean”. Half way through the movie he starts to break sporadically into a thick Scottish accent which isn’t explained, although one could argue that is the point of the movie, and in one bewildering moment, body pops to out of place hip hop music.

The character of Alice seems a little weak, she hasn’t got much muchness, as the Mad Hatter would say, but this is largely due to the fact that as a character she is never left to stand on her own two feet as Depp’s Mad Hatter accompanies her for most of her journey.

Overall, I give Alice in Wonderland three and a half stars out of five. The dialogue wasn’t as great as I had imagined but the 3D world that Burton created nearly made up for that. Had Johnny Depp been better it would have been four stars, but he appears unnecessarily frequently and a lot of the marketing was based around his character, generating a hype that he didn’t live up to. No matter what, Alice in Wonderland is billed to be one of the biggest films of 2010, and I don’t doubt for one minute that it will dominate over the Easter break.

Have you seen the film? What did you think? Add your comments below.


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