When most people envision Wonderland, they think of a bright and colorful land filled with strange creatures and impossibilities that become reality. Tim Burton’s remake was backed by computer generation, astounding 3-D, a great cast, and wonderful acting. However Burton’s signature dark air leaked in and seemed to put a severe damper on the film’s potential.
According to the adaptation, Alice grew to believe that her time in Wonderland was merely a recurring dream. The majority of the film however picks up thirteen years later when a peculiar rabbit in a waistcoat catches the 19-year-old’s attention and leads her down a familiar rabbit hole. From there, Alice learns that she is to take part in a prophecy to overthrow the Red Queen and install the kingdom back into the hands of the loving White Queen.
Throughout her journey Alice stumbles across acquaintances from her past, including the Cheshire Cat, created solely by computer generation, a coffee-loving ravenous rabbit, a door mouse turned feisty heroine, a hookah-loving caterpillar, a pair of twins which offer confusion more than assistance, and an orange haired Johnny Depp with a knack for dual personalities and hats.
The casting was superb and eye-catching. Mia Wasikowska went up against several candidates for the role including Amanda Seinfried and Lindsay Lohan. Though Wasikowska is not widely known of, she got the job for a reason and seemed to rise to the challenge.
Throughout the film you can watch as her character goes from timid 19-year-old fighting off her overactive imagination to a superior heroine who made peace with the literal Wonderland she was destined to protect. In the beginning she fights to figure out what is real and what is imaginary, but in the end she struggles to make the hard decision of whether to return to her safe home or remain in Wonderland. Wasikowska portrays these contradicting emotions and timely transitions exquisitely.
Johnny Depp joins with Burton for the seventh time and takes the Mad Hatter to a new level with obvious voice changes to meet his dual personalities and a new hairdo which made his work in Edward Scissorhands pale in comparison. Though the Hatter was a minimal character in the 1951 film, the insane character was given a major part this time around.
Helena Bonham Carter takes on the roll of the Red Queen; a big roll deserving a big head? Between Burton’s image and the help of computer design, she was transformed into a stocky woman with a towering, oversized cranium. Her shrill voice and aggressive mannerism add humor and conflict into the movie.
Red Queen’s sister, the White Queen, led Anne Hathaway into the casting. Though the character was in neither the book nor film, she was in several others of Carroll’s works. Unfortunately, Hathaway didn’t shine as brightly as she could have in this role. On top of tacky black lipstick and a chilly attitude, this loving queen seemed cold and standoffish. On top of her attitude, her movements and postures stood out as awkward.
Some of the minor characters were most enchanting, despite their limited screentime. Voiced by Stephen Fry, the Cheshire Cat’s design was simultaneously adorable, smug and mysterious. Other side characters included Matt Lucas as Tweedledee and Tweedledum, Michael Sheen as the voice of the White Rabbit, Alan Rickman as the blue caterpillar, and Barbara Windsor as the dormouse.
The film’s acting and visual dynamics were astounding but whether they met the requirements of long-term diehard fans seems unlikely. Burton seemed to transform the movie with his own idea of a dark mysterious wonderland, rather than the bright and colorful land we all witnessed in the 1951 original. However, once the differences are acknowledged, Burton’s signature dark elegance can be appreciated. The visual effects may not have matched up to most expectations, but it is undeniable to say that they were not obviously worked on extensively.
The film overall can be defined as exquisite, comedic, dark, and ethereal, as most of Burton’s works are. I give it a 8.5/10 and suggest it to anyone looking for a movie to fill two hours of your time.