Friday, 5 March 2010

Alice in Wonderland

Late for tea ...

While attending a party on a Victorian estate, Alice Kingsley (Mia Wasikowska) becomes interested in an apparent white rabbit she sees. Upon following the rabbit, Alice finds herself caught up in a magical world unlike reality known as Underland. Alice believes she is dreaming, but with the help of the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) she learns that she is needed to help stop the Red Queen's (Helena Bonham Carter) reign of terror.

Alice in Wonderland can, on first appearance, seem like a remake of the original story on which it is based. But as the story develops it becomes clear that it is a sequel of sorts following the life of Alice now that she is older. The narrative is divided into two parts, namely the Victorian setting which opens and closes the film and that of Underland of which the film is mostly comprised. There is a very interesting point of departure in how both worlds become important for Alice's development as a woman in Victorian London but the relation is just poorly implemented on Tim Burton's part. Though, it must be said that Alice in Wonderland is merely Lewis Carroll's original story just with a Goth coating and with less thematic depth: in fact it is perhaps one of Burton's least original and weakest in terms of narrative fecundity but the feminist undertones are noticeable. It should be noted that character development is perhaps the weakest point of the film with no character really showing off any tangible development whatsoever. It could be argued that Alice does grow as a character and this is what allows her to make the decisions she does in the end, but these actions only portray her original feminist ideas, rather than any self-reflection on her part of the society in which she lives. In a rather bizarre twist, the seriousness of the final act of Underland is finished by a rather unappealing, albeit slightly funny, act which hurts the more film then it helps. Humour becomes a largely hit-and-miss affair with some being plainly unfunny, though the Red Queen allows for some good laughs.

That said, the acting is a mixed bag with some actors getting their respective character spot on and others seemingly unable to do so. Alice and the White Queen (Anne Hathaway) are sadly examples of the latter which is disappointing since it is with these two that the film carries itself. Wasikowska may be able to look the part but she is far too subdued in her emotion and tone range for the feminist Alice, while Hathaway gets herself wrapped up in poor overacting. On the reverse there are some great performances to be seen with the Red Queen and the Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry). Both are wonderful performances and easily help elevate the film's overall quality as Carter shouts out the most hilarious line of the film over and over without any dulling effect as Fry oozes a charisma that is sure to put a smile on your face. Lastly, there is Depp as the Mad Hatter: Depp comes across as playing his usual eccentric character which feels a little tiresome at times these days. On top of this his character's vocal change shows hint of his Jack Sparrow character which breaks the illusion of the film. Nevertheless, Depp does showcase why he is a talented actor but he never really does anything exciting to make the Mad Hatter that much different to previous roles.

On the opposite side of the spectrum the physical nature of the film looks and sounds delightful with some good use of computer animation and music. It is never on par with the likes of Avatar in terms of lushness, but there is a distinct cartoon feel which resonates well for the film: just as great as Fry is as the Cheshire Cat, so is the physical manifestation of the character an appealing sight. There are however some shortcomings such as wonky movement animation on the rare character and some major texturing issues resulting in some average looking character models. The added 3D elements in the 3D version of the film lack life and are unimaginatively used for the sole purpose of having the film released at 3D cinemas.

The film contains no sex, nudity or language. Violence is in small dose with some sword fighting which results in a creature having its eye taken out and another losing its head but it is far from being termed 'violent'.

'Wonderful' would be far too much praise for Burton's adaptation of Lewis Carroll's classic story. Like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory before, Alice in Wonderland shows why Burton's version of an existing story is not always a good one. The narrative lacks depth with feminist dealings being the only core concern; character development is unheard of; and the overall acting ensemble do not do the overall cast justice. That said the computer animation serves the film's source material adequately enough; the musical score is worth noting and the film offers a potentially fun experience: it just lacks the wonder it so desperately needs.


Screen date: 06 March 2010
Release date: 06 March 2010


Me..Honey!! said...

really love this movie..

Anonymous said...

Burton's Version sucks!!
Alice in Wonderland SUCKS!!!


Vivian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vivian said...

hope to see this movie..

watch tv shows online said...

It is still worth the high price of the 3-D admission to see some of the amazing animation and design, but the writing is extremely boring and clumsy, and the performances cannot save it. Too many liberties were taken with the originals here, and in no way improve upon them, it only barely resembles either of Carroll's books in theme and some specific scenes. There are some "Disney moments" that literally set off a gag reflex as well.