Down the rabbit hole you go to visit Disney’s latest adaptation of the classic tale, Alice in Wonderland. The film is drenched with 3D visuals and the signature Gothic style of master filmmaker Tim Burton. The basic premise along with the talented cast led by newcomer Mia Wasikowska sounds like a recipe for cinematic gold, but overall it comes across as a bit uneven.

The Players:

The Plot:

The film is based on a combination of Lewis Caroll’s books Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and the unofficial sequel, Through the Looking Glass. The story centers on a 19-year-old Alice, who makes a dramatic return to the fantasy land she visited as a child. She’s the only hope the inhabitants have against the rising threat of the evil Red Queen (Carter). She must fulfill a prophecy that names her as the savior of the suppressed kingdom, while trying to find her way back home to her would-be fiance.

The Good:

  • Helena Bonham Carter: The Red Queen was the most interesting character to watch in this film, and it wasn’t just because she’s the villain. Carter manages to show a lot vulnerability regardless of her tough exterior that makes the audience relate to her. Even though she does heinous things, you feel compassion because you know deep down she’s acting out of the hurt and rejection she’s felt most of her life.
  • Use of 3D: Unlike most films that come out these days, the 3D element wasn’t the biggest selling point for Alice. It’s there, it’s present, but it’s not overwhelming. It serves a purpose and gives you that depth of field without being over the top. It’s no Avatar.
  • Music: The score is one of the most important parts of this film because it keeps you interested with the story when the narration starts to drag. It takes your mind into this mystical world and you feel like a kid again. Similar to Beetlejuice or even Edward Scissorhands, it transports you to that special place.
  • Humor: Like most Burton films there were a lot of humorous moments mixed in with the darker portions of the story. The Red and White Queen both have their time to shine, and there’s an interesting use of dance that Alice and the Mad Hatter exhibit at key moments in the film that was hilarious. There’s only one word that can be used to describe it, “Futter-wacking.” Believe me, when you watch the movie you’ll get what it means.

The Bad:

  • The Mad Hatter: Johnny Depp did a great job in this film, but the character of the Mad Hatter was the uneven element I referred to earlier. He was a bipolar British man who turned Scottish when he got upset. The Mad Hatter is essentially crazy, but in an attempt to alter him for a new generation they risk confusing the hell out of fans of the original.

Overall:

Alice in Wonderland is a fun ride that you wouldn’t mind getting on once, but you’d hold off until the DVD to get on again. The performances are great, the music is fantastic, the visuals are polished, but the story is essentially the same. It’s the same Alice she’s just in a new outfit. But even though it’s not the greatest movie it’s still worth a viewing and the youngsters will definitely enjoy it.

Rating: 7.5/10

Alice in Wonderland debuts in theaters nationwide on March 5, 2010.

Photos:

Trailer:

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