Alice in Wonderland

Posted on January 12, 2011. Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , , , , , |

I know how much Ross and Ross need their regular updates of why Tim Burton is amazing so I couldn’t watch this movie without putting a few words online for their benefit.

Once again we have the holy trinity of Burton, Elfman and Depp which is usually a good indicator of a decent movie, and while this one did get some stick from the usual naysayers I think it’s a well made film.  Elfman’s unmistakable score brings you straight into (W)Underland with the trademark ethereal quality that he does so well, and the film looks quite spectacular, with an amazing depth I’m sure was intended to heighten the cinematic 3D but leaves the 2D version just as impressive.

Rather than a remake of the various other Alice in Wonderland films, Burton has gone for a sort of Return to Oz style movie, with a more grown up Alice returning to the place she thought she’d made up in a dream.  What I enjoyed most about the film was that as well as taking parts of the original Alice books (including Through the Looking-glass) a substantial proportion of the plot comes from the Lewis Carroll poem Jabberwocky.  It’s  one of my childhood favourites and makes a great basis for a film, weaving in nicely as a prophecy of Alice’s return.  Essentially, what Burton has made is Alice in Wonderland 3; the one that comes after the two books.

Alongside Depp, there is a huge ensemble cast of talented, predominantly British, names including Matt Lucas, Stephen Fry, Alan Rickman, Barbara Windsor, Paul Whiteouse, Timothy Spall, Christopher Lee…oh and they had to get Helena Bonham Carter in there somewhere.  The best performance though is from Mia Wasikowska as Alice, who captures a kind of restrained sense of adventure and our heroines “muchness.”

The live action has all been overlayed with CG and retouching, meaning it blends seamlessly with the entirely CG characters, to the point that it wasn’t until halfway through the film I remembered I was watching a half-live half-cartoon movie.  The slightly strange appearance of the Underland inhabitants fits well with the dreamlike quality of the film, as well as making it undeniably Burton to look at.

Even though I’m an infamous Burton fan, I went into this film with low expectations after reading a lot of bad reviews.  I’m happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised, finding the film orignal, beautifully designed and, most importantly, entertaining!

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