Movie review for “Alice in Wonderland”

Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter
Directed by: Tim Burton
Rated: PG

            “Alice in Wonderland” is arguably one of the most popular and cherished children’s stories of all time. As a kid, I read the book and watched the many on-screen adaptations of the story. Lewis Carroll’s whimsical world of impossibilities (such as drinking a potion to become smaller and talking animals) seems to capture the hearts and minds of anyone who wants to be taken away for a spell.

            Tim Burton’s version of “Alice in Wonderland” is a bit different than Disney’s animated version (which is the most popular adaption of the story). While key elements are still there, including all of the main characters, Burton’s perception of Wonderland is quite skewed. First off, anyone who is familiar with Burton’s work should expect a dark view of things. Burton’s films that are targeted for younger audiences, such as “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Corpse Bride” are prime examples. So, anyone looking to see this movie with children should realize this. A PG rating seems pretty stretched. However, Lewdness or profanity is not a factor here, only darker themes and slightly disturbing images.

            Now, speaking positively, the imagery in “Alice in Wonderland” is pretty wonderful. Mostly comprised of CGI, the world and characters are bright, silly, and exciting. Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter is perhaps the most impressive. Other odd but fascinating creatures include The Red Queen (featuring an unusually large head), the infamous twins Tweedledee and Tweedledum, the conspiring Knave of Hearts, and the beautiful White Queen. I’ve heard this film is doubly good in 3-D.

            While the cinematography is fun and the characters are endearing (and in some cases, relatable), the story-line lacks a little. Some critics have complained that it’s too far off from the original, but Burton has explicitly stated that his version is supposed to be new and different, so perhaps that’s not the problem. Perhaps, it’s another case of “Where the Wild Things Are” – a children’s movie disguised with mature themes. When watching “Alice” it feels as if the movie is in its “awkward pre-teen” years: not a kid anymore, but not yet an adult.

            “Alice in Wonderland” features good acting and is visually stimulating. It’s clear that Lewis Carroll created this story for anyone who is a dreamer. However, when you throw macabre master Tim Burton in the mix, it’s difficult to determine where exactly this movie fits in. Some may be left confused, others pleased. Whatever your beliefs, “Alice” will certainly leave you in a state of wonder.

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