The past decade seen has seen numerous remakes of classic movies (ie: Oceans 11, The Stepford Wives, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and, in my opinion, not one has lived up to the quality of the original. Will Tim Burton stand a chance with Alice in Wonderland? It’s up for debate.
I’m not sure one could even call the film a remake, necessarily. It seemed to be a mix of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass while being a sequel all at the same time. There are the same old characters in the same old situations but also characters we have never met and places we have never been. Fans of the original story may be disappointed, but Burton fans will love it anyway.
The film starts with Alice as a child, telling her father about a horrible reoccurring nightmare that she has about a white rabbit in a waste coat, a blue caterpillar, etc… Next we see Alice as an adult, pale with dark circles around her eyes, and we learn that she continues to have the nightmares even now. At a party, we meet people that remind us of classic Carroll characters: Identical twin girls that are like Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, a crazy aunt that is like The March Hair and a possible future mother in law that is obviously The Red Queen. This is also where we meet The White Rabbit, whom Alice chases and falls down the hole after. Once in Wonderland, we are introduced to the Dormouse, twins, and Dodo bird who all keep asking if this is THE Alice. This is where the story is obviously different from the Louis Carroll story that everyone knows. The plot is deeper, the confusing riddles are scarcer, and the characters have more depth.
Alan Rickman, with his deep and sarcastic voice, was perfect for the role of Blue Caterpillar. Every time he spoke, I was reminded of the Metatron from Dogma. I dare you to watch it and tell me differently.
Helena Bonham Carter was an incredible Red Queen. As we have seen in the past with Sweeney Todd and Harry Potter, Carter can be a terrific villain but loveable at the same time.
Johnny Depp, whom I would normally say could never be unattractive, was made to look like if Carrot Top and Elijah Wood were to breed. With our experience from the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy and Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, everyone knows that very few people can play crazy like Depp can.
Anne Hathaway, The White Queen, could easily be misinterpreted as over acting her role but the character was supposed to be overly dramatic and goody-goody. I even strangely liked the white hair/dark eyebrows combo.
Crispin Glover….Oh McFly…Why???? He plays Stayne, the Knave of Hearts and The Red Queen’s love interest. His entire character was CGI and they gave him the Trent Reznor haircut. Was it necessary to computerize his entire body? Not at all. At least this character was better than in Charlie’s Angels…
The Cheshire Cat, played by Stephen Fry, was a fantastic contribution to the movie. His character was all through the movie and was far less antagonizing than he seemed in the original story. Fry’s soothing voice made the cats evil grin seem that much more creepy and the graphics on the cats fur made him look so soft that I wanted to pet him the entire movie.
The 3-D aspect of the movie was great. The “falling down the rabbit hole” scene was exciting and could easily have been pretty terrifying for young children. However, I certainly found it far more entertaining that sorry excuse of a Cameron movie.
The music was classic Danny Elfman from the first note and had I been blind, Id have known I was in a Burton film. I was slightly disappointed by the horrible Avril song chosen for the end credits but, looking back, I’m glad it was placed in a part of the movie that I didn’t have to watch.
All in all, I thought the movie was very entertaining. It was an original idea given to an older plot and was very visually pleasing at the same time. I wouldn’t call it Tim Burton’s best film, but it certainly did not disappoint.