Release Date (UK) – 5 March 2010
Certificate (UK) – PG
Country – USA
Director – Tim Burton
Runtime – 108 mins
Starring – Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter
Alice in Wonderland marks Johnny Depp and Tim Burton’s seventh collaboration in a relationship which began 20 years ago with Edward Scissorhands, a bond which is set to continue with Burton’s forthcoming adaptation of the TV series Dark Shadows.
The film is set several years after Lewis Carrol’s tale, with an almost adult Alice being played by newcomer Mia Wasikowska. When Alice falls down the rabbit hole she is transported to the land she visited as a child many years ago, with all our favourite characters including the Cheshire cat (Stephen Fry), White Rabbit (Michael Sheen), Mad Hattter (Depp), and Tweedledum/dee (Matt Lucas). It has been foretold that Alice must end the Red Queen’s (Helena Bomham Carter) reign of terror by defeating the Jabberwocky but she is hesitant, convinced that everybody has mistaken her for another Alice…
Combining live action and animation, Tim Burton’s film is visually stunning, particularly the beautiful re-imagining of creatures like the blue caterpillar (Alan Rickman) and I defy anyone not to fall in love with Tweedledee and Tweedledum’s almost spherical appearance as ever smiling creatures. The films colour pallatte changes along with the mood from the bright vivid colours of Underland to the dark gothic scenes with the Red queen. However, unfortunately the plot itself isn’t up to much, as too much screen time is devoted to Carroll’s other characters rather than Alice’s own journey and feelings, so we don’t really ever become attached to her emotionally. In some scenes the dialogue is inaudible over the music and although the cast is full of great names the only riveting performance is Johnny Depp’s short comedic dance at the end of the film. Playing Alice, Wasikowska does well with what she’s given, but the plain fact is that this adaptation is a poor one. With all the fuss here in the UK over Disney’s shortened DVD release window one can’t help wonder if it was all a publicity stunt to distract from the films poor quality, or to try to rush the DVD into shops before the bad reviews spread too far.
As often the case is with Burton’s films, Alice in Wonderland is a visual treat, but the lack of emotional involvement with the characters make it a disappointing watch overall. If you do go to see it, the 2D to 3D conversion is not worth paying extra for (the only worthy scene is when Alice falls down the rabbit hole right at the beginning of the film).