Friday, June 18, 2010

Alice In Wonderland

Alice In Wonderland:
Another Trip Through The Opium Stained Looking Glass

In the long history of fictional literature, there are not many tails that stand the test of time the way that the much beloved chronicles of of a young girl named Alice, who though both "Alice's Adventures In Wonderland" and "Through The Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There". Now there is much debate over these stories given how controversial their nature is, and how they've been remade and reworked so many times that at times its hard to tell their original form and altered ones. Most assume the Disney 1951 version is close to the original, then they read and discover its really a butchered gutted and hallowed out shell of the story, making it light and happy and pretty, when its not really all that happy or light and friendly. And though many joke off the differences, there are those who wish that there could have been made, a true to book adaption made for theaters, and though its not a direct adaption, Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland set out to be a continuation of the two books, being set in the future of the books timeline.

The film does a good job of bringing the animated and the literary versions that have been done the world over all together. But you would expect that with the work of Tim Burton, probably the only director who could have actually made this film and make it work. The cast as a whole turns in an excellent performance, not just Johnny Depp like most people would have assumed at the beginning of the film's creation. I actually find Mia Wasikowska as Alice to be the greatest of the entire cast, simply because you truly believe she is Alice, and that she has her muchness. but this is no real surprise, Mia was incredible in the brilliant film Suburban Mayhem, so why would she be any other way in this. Depp, as everyone expected, plays a very good, and surprisingly large role given how little you see of the Hatter in most variations of the story, and Helena Bonham Carter plays a very good, all be it over the top, Red Queen, who has elements of The Queen of Hearts mixed in with her original character's portrayal, Bonham Carter does a great job countering the mostly bland and slightly annoying Anne Hathaway as the White Queen, who just comes off as completely pure and good and great and makes you wonder if she's so pure and kind and good that she farts in pleasant smells as well, and surprising in casting, but not surprising in how good of a job in the role, Crispen Glover does an incredible turn as The Knave Of Hearts, I found myself wondering if Glover's revitalized career and recent years fan following might counteract Depp's similar standard of doing things, but thankfully I was wrong, they both actually compliment each other well, and I'd like to see more of it in the future honestly. And though half the cast are infact CGI, you find yourself loving them as well, Steven Fry shines as he always does in his role of Chessur, The Cheshire Cat, but its Alan Rickman's role as Absolem, the iconic hooka smoking caterpillar that takes it for the non-human roles honestly, Rickman uses the dull monotone voice he uses for Snape in the harry potter films to deliver the character and his wise and knowing nature perfectly. I was also delighted to find out they actually refer to each character by their real names, not their titles like in most adaptions, I hate that..

The plot of the film, though new material really does a great job keeping you informed and respectful of the original, and truly does a great job of merging, here is the basic outline...

Troubled by a strange recurring dream and mourning the loss of her beloved father, nineteen-year-old Alice Kingsleigh attends a garden party at Lord Ascot's estate, where she is faced with the expectations of marriage and of the society in which she lives. Unsure of how to reply and increasingly confused, she runs away to chase after a rabbit in a waistcoat, and accidentally falls into a rabbit hole. She is transported to a world called Underland where she is greeted by the White Rabbit, the Dormouse, the Dodo, and Tweedledum and Tweedledee. They argue over her identity as "the right Alice," who it is foretold will slay the Red Queen's Jabberwocky on the Frabjous Day and restore the White Queen to power. They consult Absolem[9] the Caterpillar, who decides that she is "not hardly Alice." The group is then ambushed by the Bandersnatch and a group of playing-card soldiers led by the Knave of Hearts. Alice escapes and flees into the woods.

The Knave informs the Red Queen that Alice has returned to Underland and threatens her reign, and the Red Knights are ordered to find Alice immediately. Meanwhile, the wandering Alice encounters the Cheshire Cat, who takes her to the Mad Hatter and March Hare. On the way to the White Queen's castle, Hatter relates the terror of the Red Queen's reign, and comments that Alice is not the same as she once was. The Hatter helps Alice avoid capture by allowing himself to be seized instead. Later, Alice is found by Bayard the bloodhound, who wishes to take her to the White Queen, but Alice insists upon helping the Hatter, so they go to the Red Queen's castle.

The Red Queen is unaware of Alice's identity and therefore welcomes her as a guest. Meanwhile, the Hatter persuades the Queen to let him serve as her personal milliner in an attempt to delay his execution. Alice learns that the Vorpal Sword (the only weapon capable of killing the Jabberwocky) is locked away in a case inside the Bandersnatch's den. The Knave attempts to seduce Alice, but she rebuffs him. She later manages to retrieve the sword and befriend the Bandersnatch. The Knave finds her with the sword and attempts to arrest her. Alice escapes on the back of the Bandersnatch and delivers the sword to the White Queen. The Cheshire Cat saves the Hatter from execution, and the Hatter calls for rebellion against the Red Queen. The resistance flees to the White Queen's castle, and both armies prepare for battle. Alice remains unsure about the expectation for her to champion the White Queen, and meets once more with Absolem. He reminds Alice of her past visit to Underland (which she mistakenly called "Wonderland" at the time) thirteen years earlier, and helps give her the courage to fight the Jabberwocky.

From there the all out battle for the future of their world begins, Alice fights the Jabberwocky, you see all of the rest of the cast join the fray, I'm not used to seeing The Mad Hatter with a scotish broad sword, but I guess anything is possible, I loved how the battle scene didn't just focus on Alice and The Jabberwocky, that would have just been kind of annoyingly predictable, it focuses on everyone, on both sides and how they all rise up to fight for what they believe in, and continue until Alice has slain the Jabberwocky, at which point the Red Queen finally gets whats coming to her, for all of her time of mistreatment of others, after that Alice is returned to her world, where she refuses to marry her annoyingly uptight suitor and instead sets out in control of her own life to live out her father's dreams and ideas, Absolem, in butterfly form, is on her shoulder as she goes.

There really isn't much to say thats not ravingly good about this film, even if you aren't able to get into the story of it, the visual story and colors and F/X will keep you entertained all the way through the film. Its truly worth seeing if you haven't yet.




  1. What I liked was that the movie wasn't all Depp. I think when he was announced as the Hatter everyone had expectations of him taking over the movie. The Cheshire cat though, was the star of the film to me. Nathan Lane was soooo good for it. I thought they did a great job of updating and doing something new, but paying homage to the old. Of course with Burton's Acid Glass everything is going to be colorful and outlandish which always makes it worth a watch too.

  2. STeven Fry was the Cheshire Cat, not Nathan Lane...

  3. oh shit, you're right, nate was the original they wanted right?