Burton’s Alice is a hit with kids and book lovers alike

Disney’s highly-anticipated “Alice in Wonderland” is a tale of whimsical, albeit crazy, people and their quest to save their world and the coming-of-age of the title character; all the ingredients of a pretty straight-forward fairy tale. This, along with the fact that it really does not matter whether you see the film in 3-D, is the most surprising asset of the movie. Tim Burton shied away from his usual morbid humor and macabre mentality and brought to life a fully-realized Underland that can be enjoyed by the whole family.

By Cody Naylor

Staff Writer

Disney’s highly-anticipated “Alice in Wonderland” is a tale of whimsical, albeit crazy, people and their quest to save their world and the coming-of-age of the title character; all the ingredients of a pretty straight-forward fairy tale. This, along with the fact that it really does not matter whether you see the film in 3-D, is the most surprising asset of the movie. Tim Burton shied away from his usual morbid humor and macabre mentality and brought to life a fully-realized Underland that can be enjoyed by the whole family.

Audiences should not expect a complete retelling of Lewis Carroll’s classic tale as this film introduces the character of Alice as a mature, though soft-spoken, nineteen year-old on the verge of becoming engaged. Alice spots the white rabbit at her surprise engagement party and haphazardly follows him back down the rabbit hole.

Once in Underland, a place Alice soon learns she has visited in the past, the action picks up quickly and does not let up until the understated, yet satisfying conclusion.
This film combines elements from both of Lewis Carroll’s Alice books, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking-Glass.” Burton is noted as saying that he neither feels his film is a sequel or a reimagining. It is a story about Alice and the other misfit band of characters that has never before been told.

Mia Wasikowska, a relative newcomer, is serviceable as the lead, conveying the character’s emotional growth throughout the film quite well, but misses the mark on some of her more humorous lines of dialogue.

The supporting cast shines and almost takes away from Wasikowska’s more subtle portrayal of Alice. Johnny Depp plays a mentally unstable Mad Hatter brilliantly, portraying conflicting emotions and switching between a playful British accent and a burly Scottish accent on a whim.

Helena Bonham Carter’s Red Queen and Anne Hathaway’s White Queen really work in conjunction with one another. Carter portrays a bossy, temperamental and cruel woman who cares only about keeping the throne that she stole from her sister. Hathaway’s character is an achingly kind, soft-spoken bleeding heart who has taken a vow not to harm any living creature. The two are polar opposites, but the film makes it clear that there are flaws in both characters and thrusts Alice into situations involving both matriarchs to show that one must have characteristics of both the Red and White Queens in order to be a balanced person.

Matt Lucas’ Tweedledee and Tweedledum are a great source of comic relief and Stephen Fry’s Cheshire cat is perhaps the most eerie and unsettling character in the entire film. Throw in the always dependable Crispin Glover and Alan Rickman to round off the list of supporting actors and one has no problem imagining the quality of performance in this film.

Unless audiences are familiar with both books by Carroll, there may be some moments in the movie that seem a bit baffling, but the younger ones are unlikely to notice or care. The world of Underland is rendered almost entirely in CGI with bright, vibrant-colored mushrooms and flowers and menacingly twisted tree branches filling the landscape.
With such an other-worldly vibe, it really is a shame that the 3-D in this film is not on par with that seen in “Avatar.” The effects Tim Burton employs feel gimmicky and are a bit blurry at times whereas the more subtle effects James Cameron utilized in “Avatar” were impressively engrossing.

If you absolutely love 3-D movies or are accompanied by a young one, by all means see the 3-D version. If you are merely curious to see Tim Burton’s take on “Alice in Wonderland” then the 2-D version offers a more than satisfactory experience. Bottom line though, you should see this movie; even if to just witness the fashion trends and Halloween costumes it is sure to inspire later this year.