Posted by: Dr P | March 15, 2010

Alice in Wonderland (3D)

Part animated, part real actors, part CGI, Tim Burton’s wild reimagining of the classic Alice in Wonderland hit local cinema screens this past week, and so it seemed only fitting that Big G and I made the trek out. It was also only right that we decided to view in 3D after the comedy moments experienced during Avatar. Now we’d heard a few bad things about this movie, so our expectations were quite low going in. Fortunately, Burton’s vision of the Lewis Carroll story was much better than we’d anticipated.

What’s this? A Tim Burton movie? Let’s see if all the usual pieces are in place. Johnny Depp playing a quirky character? Check. Helena Bonham Carter? Check. Wild visuals? Check. A strong sense of sadness pervading every scene? Check. Trying to be Terry Gilliam and not quite living up to the master? Check.

I’m sure most of you are familiar with the yarn – young Alice falls down a rabbit hole and re-discovers (yes, re-discovers, that bit is important) a fantasy world in turmoil and on the brink of a major conflict between good and evil. On the side of the good are such weird characters as the vanishing Cheshire Cat, the astonishingly Mad Hatter (Depp) and the White Queen (played by Anne Hathaway – the young American actress as opposed to the centuries-dead wife of Shakespeare, that would be just creepy). On the dark side are the Red Queen (the superb Bonham Carter) and her league of playing card-themed soldiers, led by the even creepier Knave of Hearts (Crispin Glover).

Alice is taken to see Absolom, a blue caterpillar voiced deliciously by Professor Snape, sorry Alan Rickman, who informs her that she may – or may not – be the mythical Alice who is destined to defeat the fearsome jabberwocky and end the Red Queen’s rule. All the time you just want to hear the caterpillar say “Potterrrrrrr” and sneer, but sadly it doesn’t quite happen! Anyway Alice doesn’t quite know what to make of it all, and – as you would – denies all knowledge of needing to fight the terrifying creature.

Anyway, when some of her companions, including the Mad Hatter, with whom she has started to bond, are captured, Alice sets out on a quest to the Red Queen’s palace to save the day. She teams up with the White Queen, the white rabbit and various other characters, including the Matt Lucas-inspired “Tweedles”, Dee and Dum. Things start to drag a bit at this point, and Big G fell asleep during some of the key scenes … mind you, he falls asleep all the time, so it was no wonder.

Things build to the inevitable conclusion and just as Alice is about to fight the jabberwocky, I fell asleep as well. I have no idea what happened at that point, but I imagine things turned out ok as Alice ended up back in the real world with new adventures ahead. Big G had woken up and assured me that it was a satisfying climax. I can only assume/hope/pray he meant the film.

All in all, not a bad film at all. Depp is outstanding as the Mad Hatter, conveying a huge sense of sadness as well as fun, and to all intents and purposes playing Ken Dodd sans tickling stick on screen. The rest of the cast are passable, with young Mia Wasikowska playing a determined and spirited Alice. The various well-known voice actors are also a delight, with Rickman, Michael Sheen and Stephen Fry particularly prominent. Possibly one to take the (slightly older) kids to, and worth going just for the trailer of Streetdance 3D!


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