REVIEW: Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland
Directed by: Tim Burton
Written by: Linda Woolverton (screenplay) Lewis Carroll (books)
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway

Burton, the genius imaginateer behind Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands and Sweeney Todd along with a list of other brilliant works, teams up for the eighth time with star Johnny Depp to recreate a classic childhood fantasy in the likes of their 2005 effort Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

The story is more of a sequel than a remake, combining elements and characters from Lewis Carroll’s 19th century books Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. It starts with Alice, now 19 and soon to be wedded to a freckled face boy who suffers from digestion issues and happens to now own her dead father’s trading business. The trouble is Alice (Mia Wasikowska) has no intentions of marrying him or living a life where everything is decided for her. When asked to accept her fate of no longer being able to accept her fate, Alice rushes away and follows the white rabbit into a whole where she returns to Wonderland although not remembering having been there before.

In Wonderland Alice is told that she must rescue Wonderland from the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) by slaying the Jabberwocky with the sword of the Red Queen’s sister, the White Queen (Anne Hathaway). With direction from many of the realm’s bizarre characters, including a delightfully peculiar Mad Hatter (Depp), Alice is taken on a journey where she and only she can decide the fate of herself and of Wonderland.

In other versions of Carroll’s story, the story and realm which he creates is more linked to our world, with commentary on villainous Victorian aristocracy, 19th century breakthroughs on philosophy of the self, self-absorption and even perhaps the sad end to world anglo-manifestation. Of course these messages are far above the heads of children, but make great observations for adult audiences. In Burton’s version, this dimension of the story is slightly written out in favor of a more Disney approved feministic theme about being able to make your own decisions and do what it right. It’s not total fluff though, and it’s written into the story quite nicely, with Alice’s real world reflecting her Wonderland world. Burton cleverly has characters in both worlds imitate each other and even mimics his scenes to draw the comparisons. Continue reading