Alice in Wonderland
Burton’s Wonderland: Carroll adaptation shows off director’s trademark visual inventiveness in an unusual re-invention of a classic.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Relative newcomer Mia Wasikowska is ideal as the ever-curious Alice Kingsleigh in Tim Burton’s thematically juiced up adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass.
Presented in 3D, Burton’s prodigious aptitude for filigree filled fantasy takes center stage after 19-year-old Alice steps away from a 19th century garden party marriage proposal by an unfit suitor named Hamish. The lass who likes to boast that she can imagine “six impossible things before breakfast” follows a waist coated white rabbit down a giant hole to an extraordinary location called Underland.
Size being an issue in Underland, it takes a few tries before Alice is able to shrink and expand to a scale that will accommodate the surreal universe of her imaginings. An especially unhelpful dormouse, a blue-striped Cheshire cat, and a doubting caterpillar named Absolim question Alice’s identity as the real Alice. But our headstrong freethinker takes solace in the nature of her dream state as a path that she designs. A messy tea party with Johnny Depp’s schizophrenic Mad Hatter leads Alice on a journey inside the gates of the Red Queen’s castle where Helena Bonham Carter’s cranially challenged Queen reigns with the frequently repeated command, “Off with his head.”
Crispin Glover chews up scenery as Stayne-Knave of Hearts, the Queen’s evil-doing knight, and Anne Hathaway adds kooky charm to the Red Queen’s kinder sibling counterpart, the White Queen.
Screenwriter Linda Woolverton keeps the thematic emphasis on Alice’s potential for ignoring the demands of social convention and independently facing up to the imminent challenge that awaits her, namely a giant winged monster called the Jabberwocky. It’s difficult to imagine another modern filmmaker doing this degree of justice to this well-worn but deserving children’s tale.
Tim Burton has created a classic for generations to come.