Tim Burton’s latest film, Alice in Wonderland, plays like a piece of the director’s fantastical artwork. But while Burton utilizes colorful sets and costumes, the plot lacks the clear message that the original Lewis Carroll story conveyed so well. This is in part because Burton’s version of the classic combines three stories into one film: Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass and Jabberwocky.
Mia Wasikowska plays the demure Alice, who consistently acts as a rebel in traditional English Society. She refuses to wear a corset to the shock and awe of her mother.
Alice, as an adolescent, is portrayed with quip adult humor that is not exactly conducive to the glorified “family” nature of the film, the precedent of which was set with Disney’s interpretation of the dark story.
In tandem with Carroll’s original, Alice enters Underland, which she mistakenly refers to as Wonderland, after falling down a rabbit hole. The CGI animation of Underland is wildly overbearing, exacerbated when viewed in 3-D. Watching the spinning sequence of Alice falling down the rabbit hole is extremely detailed and wild, but nauseating.
While Burton’s fantastic portrayal of a world with purple trees and a caterpillar that smokes hookah stimulates the imagination, justice is not done to the story of Alice’s journey as a whole.
She serves as the story’s protagonist, saving Underland from the Red Queen, played by Helena Bonham Carter, and slaying the monster called Jabberwocky. However, as a character, she does not develop much after she overcomes each challenge.
A highly feminist theme starts to emerge, though, as Alice is highlighted as the heroine of Underland by a prophetic scroll, but it falls flat at the end with no resolution of lessons learned.
While the plot leaves something to be desired, Burton’s costuming, make-up and animation will satisfy those that see the film based on a draw to his name.
Johnny Depp, playing the Mad Hatter, is caked in face powder and eye shadow that add to the wide-eyed eccentricity of his character. Depp’s acting in this role is not very different from previous roles he has played. As the Mad Hatter, Depp acts like the actor we all know-slightly swaying, bouncing with peculiarity and relying on the strangeness of his demeanor to add depth to his role.
Anne Hathaway appears as the White Queen, garishly painted in black lipstick and eyeliner. Her overall look contrasts so horridly with her white-powdered face that it’s hard not to cringe when she first appears on the screen.
The tawdry make-up further serves to emphasize the undeveloped theme of feminism that pokes its head throughout the film; the White Queen’s beauty is anything but stereotypical, yet she is still fwawned over and worshiped as a gorgeous saint.†
Alice in Wonderland is a feast for the eyes, but a disappointment for a movie-lover expecting to see the Carroll’s classic story faithfully adapted to film. †