This was my first 3-D experience and I couldn’t have chosen a better film. Needless to say Tim Burton (director) set the bar high, Alice in Wonderland was a joy to experience. The film is not a duplicate of the book or animated feature. The story follows nineteen-year-old Alice as she flees from the expectations of her friends and family, only to find herself in Wonderland where she has new expectations to live up to and different things pulling her in all directions, literally and figuratively. Burton did not disappoint, his style and aesthetic definitely was enhanced by the 3-D technology. The scenes were extremely fresh; the colors in the wardrobe, make-up and setting were rich and bright creating the perfect template for experiencing the wonderment of Wonderland.
The movie did not follow any stories previously written, this was an excellent way to use the already developed characters to build a new story for all to enjoy. However for the viewers that have read Lewis Carroll’s works, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, can be assured that the essence of the stories are still intact. The film incorporated aspects of the books into the storyline, such as the Jabberwocky, which gave it a genuine feel. Also, the characters from the novels were authentically portrayed. The film did a wonderful job of developing the characters, especially Alice, in a way that seemed seamless and effortless, as well as true to the character created by Carroll. The essence of the story, as well as the masterful directing, created the perfect base for a marvelously artful film. But, it would not have been complete without the great performances by the entire cast. Every player portrayed their character with such mastery I could write pages on each performance, however, I will limit myself to the exceptional ones.
Between Johnny Depp (Mad Hatter) and Helena Bonham Carter (Red Queen), I’m not sure which one stole more scenes. Both were so engrossed in their characters they were almost unrecognizable. Depp was phenomenal, from his hair and make-up (which changed colors!) to his swinging pendulum of emotional outburst he WAS the Mad Hatter. He created a character that was kooky and endearing all at once, you will want to keep from blinking, so not to miss a moment of him. Bonham Carter brings the same type of an all-encompassing performance in her portrayal of the Red Queen. The viewers are torn between pity and disgust as she tyrannically rules Wonderland in her efforts to find adoration from her subjects. Anne Hathaway played the other royal character, the White Queen, she moved and spoke with such an extreme amount of grace and sweetness it was completely whimsical, almost overwhelmingly so. As for Alice, newcomer Mia Wasikowska effortlessly portrayed her as the curious, questioning, presumptuous girl that was created by Carroll. Her frankness and stubbornness was ideal, as well as cleverly placed and disturbed throughout the film in order to fully develop her character. Also, all of the voice actors were perfectly cast and articulated beautifully.
Overall, this was a great film, plain and simple. Tim Burton took a classic story of silliness and nonsense and transformed it into a film that is not only pleasing to the eye and entertaining, but kept the heart of Lewis Carroll’s story beating. The idea that thinking differently and seeing things for not what they are, but what they could be, can be extremely rewarding.