This version of the famous Lewis Carroll book written in 1865 has been brought to you by Disney and director Tim Burton ("Edward Scissorhands"), who has adapted the famous children's classic and updated it so that the
young heroine is now a beautiful 19-year-old bride-to-be. Alice (Mia
Wasikowska "Amelia") is about to go into an arranged marriage with a priggish, Englishman named Hamish Ascot (Leo Bill "Me and Orson Welles"). With all the Victorian English formality and hypocrisy surrounding her, it's no wonder that the situation makes Alice more than delighted to fall down the rabbit
hole, and for the second time, since she'd been there before, as a child.
Tim Burton's Wonderland is a gothic netherworld
inhabited by shape-shifting and mildly threatening creatures. With the invitation from the very properly English White Rabbit
(Michael Sheen "Frost/Nixon"), Alice soon meets some of her old friends, and some new
ones, including, of course, the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp "Edward Scissorhands"), with his clown face, piercing eyes and shock of orange hair, he seems genuinely deranged. Joining him in "underland" are the nonsensical twins, Tweedledum and Tweedledee (both played by Matt Lucas "Shaun of the Dead"), plus the irrepressible Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry "Wilde")
with his twirling head, the March Hare (Paul Whitehouse "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban"), Absolem the
Blue Caterpillar (Alan Rickman "Sweeney Todd"), the evil Knave Of Hearts
(Crispin Glover "Beowulf"), Bayard the Bloodhound (Timothy Spall "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire"), the
nice but insecure White Queen (Anne Hathaway "Rachel Getting Married), and, most delightfully, the White Queen’s sister, the no-nonsense Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter "Sweeney Todd") who
loses no opportunity to order "off with their heads," which is particularly ironic
since her computer-enhanced head is twice as big as everyone else’s.
Tim Burton's visual style in his version of Alice in Wonderland is somewhere between animation and live
action. It was shot in 2D and converted to a brilliantly vivid 3D
format that is both scary and ingenious. Composer Danny Elfman has written a dark, dramatic score that
adds to a surprising sense of menace, especially in the film’s special effects-laden battle between our heroine
and the vicious jabberwocky in the finale. This spectacular sequence, while impressively
executed, is oddly the most ordinary thing in the film. All in all, this wildly inventive, visually astonishing, occasionally frightening cinematic spectacle will undoubtedly entertain the whole family, except for the youngest children who might be frightened by that gigantic monster, for years to come. Besides being enhanced by astonishing 3-D effects for an additional sense of wonderment.