Tim Burton’s re-imagining of the classic Alice in Wonderland story is a delight, and is sure to please movie fans of all ages with its quirky characters, stunning background and real 3-D magic.
It’s the Lewis Carroll stories everyone knows of a 19-year-old Alice (Mia Wasikowska) returning to the “imagined” world from her adventurous dreams, and the usual suspects she encounters along the way. But in typical Burton fashion, every character is uniquely odd and cartoonlike, and the movie is pretty trippy.
Helena Bonham Carter as the mean Red Queen steals the movie with her “off with his head” screaming and demanding ways, her strange, bulbous head and her heart-shaped lipstick — sure to start a makeup craze among the girls.
Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter, with his wavy, red hair, bushy eyebrows and strange, bulging eyes, is perfectly mad and channels the gleefully odd Edward Scissorhands. His made-up face, gap-toothed grin and colorful clothes is at times more clownlike than mad, but Depp is as fantastic as most any character he portrays.
The only thing that seemed out of place was the weird dance scene alluded to throughout the movie, and then danced near the end.
Tweedledee and Tweedledum (both portrayed by Matt Lucas, Astro Boy) are goofy, rolling versions of the dim-witted little ones. The Red Queen calls them her “fat boys.”
Crispin Glover as Stayne – Knave of Hearts is a little disappointing, despite his heart-shaped eye patch and his elongated legs. His usual odd behavior on (Back to the Future) and off the screen (the infamous David Letterman interview) didn’t seem to really make his character stand out as he pretends to swoon over the Red Queen.
When he makes a pass at Alice, the Red Queen screams out jealously, “Arrest that girl for unlawful seduction.”
Alice is a determined young girl who’s not sure if she really wants to agree to marry the red-haired, squeamish Lord Ascot everyone expects her to marry. She just needs one more adventure to clear her mind, so down the rabbit hole she goes.
Wasikowska, who was in last year’s Amelia and The Kids Are All Right, was delightful as Alice. Her long, blonde, curly hair (which in real life now has a cute, short cut) and beautiful fashions seemingly thrown together as she grows and shrinks in the movie, make her Alice version fun to look at.
There are the usual drinks that make you shrink, and cakes that make you grow. If you think about it, that’s true in real life.
She is caring, adventurous and determined: qualities every woman should possess.
Anne Hathaway’s White Queen is a little too “good” for my tastes. Her pale skin and white outfits are odd next to her dark lipstick and dark nail polish, and her acting isn’t up to par with her former movies (Rachel Getting Married and The Devil Wears Prada.)
The Cheshire Cat (voiced by Stephen Fry) evaporates in and out of the movie with acrobatic moves. The Blue Caterpillar is voiced by the instantly recognizable, deep-throated Alan Rickman. The White Rabbit (Michael Sheen, Frost/Nixon) is lovable and always wants to help Alice along the way.
Burton’s fantastic “Wonderland,” with its insanely mad and quirky characters, talking animals and fun dialogue, is interesting to watch.
I’m looking forward to experiencing it again, and anything to knock the over-bloated Avatar out of the IMAX theaters is fine with me.
Alice in Wonderland
Rating: PG for fantasy action/violence involving scary images and situations, and for a smoking caterpillar
Starring: Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway
Running time: 108 minutes
Hayley Ringle is a general assignment reporter for the East Valley Tribune who focuses on Gilbert and Queen Creek schools.