Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland
As you would expect of a Tim Burton film, this was such a visual treat, spectacular to look at from start to finish.
We begin with young Alice having nightmares, then cut to nineteen year old Alice on the way to a garden party, where the toothsome fop Hamish will ask for her hand in marriage. Luckily the white rabbit appears and distracts her enough to run away and fall down the rabbit hole again, where a whole new adventure awaits her in Wonderland, of which she remembers nothing from her previous visits.
She finds a Wonderland which is now rather run down, not quite the psychedelic rainbow of colour that it once was, and the pressure’s on. The Tweedles and the White Rabbit tell her that she must use the Vorpal Blade to slay the Jabberwock on the Frabjous Day and thus end the reign of the Red Queen. Alice isn’t at all sure of this, and they aren’t sure they’ve got the right Alice. Luckily the Cheshire Cat purrs into vision and takes Alice off to meet Hatter, and the adventure is truly underway.
I won’t dwell on the plot any further, for it’s not the film’s strongest point – there was rather a surfeit of to and froing, and given the set-up it was all rather inevitable (although I’m not complaining on that score). For me, the stellar cast of mostly British acting talent vies with the glorious visuals for the laurels. Stephen Fry’s silkily purry Cheshire Cat was very seductive, Barbara Windsor’s sparky Dormouse was a great surprise, and Alan Rickman’s stoner caterpillar provided another of the animal highlights. The three female leads had some great moments too – Helena Bonham-Carter (HBC) as the nasty, big-headed Red Queen, Anne Hathaway luminously beautiful as the White Queen, although newcomer Mia Wasikowska was mostly perplexed as the independent spirited Alice.
This brings us to
Willy Wonka, Michael Jackson, try again, Groundskeeper Willie, no I mean the Mad Hatter. I’m afraid I didn’t really warm to Depp’s Hatter very much. He did have a few moments of lucid brilliance, but was confusing for the rest of the time, going into a weird Scottish accent whenever he got wound up. Then there was a gratuitous dance sequence for him towards the end that very nearly spoilt everything.
I also didn’t like the use of the word ‘bonkers’ throughout – being 1940 slang, far too modern for a Victorian fantasy. However I did love playing spot the Brit-bit-part actor/voice – Frances de la Tour, Paul Whitehouse, Matt Lucas (twice), and a scene-stealing Christopher Lee to name but a few, and the stunning visuals made up for the film’s other shortcomings.
It could have been a lot better, but I did rather enjoy it in a bonkers sort of way.
This post was republished into its original place in my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive