‘Alice in Wonderland,’ movie review

Concept art for Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. Image: Disney

Opening in theaters today is the latest from the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp tandem, Alice in Wonderland, or as she’s reminded in the movie, “Underland.”

Based on the Lewis Carroll books, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, the story takes place 13 years after Alice’s first trip through the rabbit hole. Alice (Mia Wasikowska, Amelia) is set to be wed to a sniveling, digestively challenged Lord Hamish Ascot (Leo Bill). The reappearance of the white rabbit gives Alice the moment she needs to think about her impending engagement. Thus, another trip to Underland.

Much of the story follows the original stories: Alice’s shrinking and growing, the Mad Hatter’s tea party, the March Hare, the Tweedles, the Queen of Hearts, flamingo croquet mallets and the Jabberwocky. A Hollywood A-list fills out both the acting and vocal talent with Depp as the Mad Hatter, Helena-Bonham Carter (Sweeney Todd, Harry Potter movies) as the Queen of Hearts, Michael Sheen (The Queen, Frost/Nixon) as the white rabbit, Alan Rickman (Die Hard, Harry Potter movies) as Absalom the caterpillar and Christopher Lee (Lord of the Rings) as the Jabberwocky.

The Tweedles, the white rabbit and the Mad Hatter. Image: Disney


This movie is fun. Seamless integration of live acting and digital effects makes it much more bold than Avatar. Bonham-Carter’s face is painted white and stuffed into red bell pepper for a hairdo with the tiniest heart shaped lipstick. Depp shows facial expressions reminiscent of Edward Scissorhands with wild orange eyebrows your Uncle Edgar might recognize. A sword fight between Captain Jack Sparrow and George McFly (Crispin Glover) could only be dreamed up by Burton. The digital Underland truly is wonderland.

At its heart, Alice is a girl-empowerment movie. She is the only one who can slay the Jabberwocky; it has been foretold. Her facing off the with dragon brings to mind Eowyn’s victory against the Nazgul in The Return of the King. Alice is the strongest character, besides her deceased father, in the whole of the “real world.” It’s a dream big, swing for the fences, do not let anyone tell you that you can’t kind of film, but the packaging is much more fantastical than, say, The Blind Side.

While Alice in Wonderland is a kid’s movie, it will be enjoyed by adults as well and would not be a bad date movie.

Alice in Wonderland is rated PG for animated and human violence, some suspense, use of the word “bloody” and another word that I cannot remember.

Marty Duren

Just a guy writing some things.

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  • Beth L.

    We’re planning to go see this tomorrow. It really does look like a lot of fun, and I’m certainly not one to pass up a Burton/Bonham-Carter/Depp movie.

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  • I think it’s an interesting Burton film with some themes going on, for start the theme of individualism is prominent at the start of the movie, then the red queen is an example of individualism gone too far where she is evil as she only cares about her own wishes and not the wishes of others. But I think the ending was kind of naive, that is more down to screenplay than Tim Burton. It could have been better, but it is still an interesting movie.