ALICE IN WONDERLAND
Director: Tim Burton
Screenwriter: Linda Wolverton based on the book by Lewis Carroll
Helena Bonham Carter
Runtime: 108 mins.
Australian release date: 4 March 2010
In Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland, we re-meet Alice (Mia Wasikowska), who is now 19 years old and is, according to Burton, ‘… at an age when you’re between a kid and an adult, when you’re crossing over as a person.’ And what a crossover period it is from the fantasy place of her childhood to ‘Underland,’ and like ‘Wonderland,’ it is a place where all is not what it seems to be. Only this time it is a little weirder and the characters are even larger than life.
We are introduced to a grown-up Alice who is still coming to terms with Victorian society. There is an awkward moment when she is being proposed to by Hamish (Leo Bill), who is super dull and not really her cup of tea, when she takes off after a White Rabbit wearing a waistcoat and a pocket watch - as you would! She falls down a rabbit hole where she discovers a cake iced with the words ‘Eat Me’ and a bottle labelled, ‘Drink Me’. Alice has to work out how much to take to increase or decrease her size. Once she gets it right, her adventure begins in Underland.
Underland is full of characters who are slightly off-beat, whether they are the goodies or the baddies. Alice’s role is to sort out the sibling rivalry between the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) and the White Queen (Anne Hathaway). She also encounters the wonderful twins Tweedledum and Tweedledee (Matt Lucas), who is even funnier as a double act. However, it is the wonderful reunion with the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), which delivers the craziest moments on screen. In true Burton style, the set is utterly surreal. The tea party is presided over by the March Hare (Paul Whitehouse), who has become even battier during the long wait for Alice’s return.
The costumes and voice-overs are perfect. At no time do you imagine that the story is not possible. A smoking Jabberwocky (Christopher Lee) and a grinning Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry), just add to the visual fantasy that all seems somehow ‘normal’ when you are sitting in the dark with your glasses on. It is, after all, a tale of good versus evil and there are no prizes for guessing who wins.
Even though Alice In Wonderland has a PG rating, mainly for the scary, fantasy images and a smoking caterpillar, it is an adventure for all ages. It is an imaginative version of a fairy-tale that scared the living daylights out of anyone who read it as a kid. The transition from ‘Wonderland’ to ‘Underland’ is beautifully acknowledged in the Knave of Heart’s line, when he looks at Alice who has increased in size and he says, “I love largeness”, which is delivered by this fabulous 3D experience.