Friday, February 17, 2012

Alice in Wonderland (2010)

One of Walt Disney's biggest triumphs in animation has got to be the 1951 movie, Alice in Wonderland. While it didn't perform very well initially, it later grew in popularity during the psychedelic era of the 60's, becoming one of the best known and recognized animated films of all time. Two years back in 2010, Tim Burton had created his own vision of Lewis Carroll's books, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, and has since become another popular version of the story, if only partially due to the names of Walt Disney, Tim Burton, and Johnny Depp being attached. Having seen it again more recently, I can safely say it's actually not that bad a movie on its own.

Alice Kingsleigh (Mairi Ella Challen) is a girl who keeps having a strange dream, asking her father one night if she's gone mad because of it. Her father, a dreamer in his own right, says yes, but assures her that the best people are. Thirteen years later, Alice's (Mia Wasikowska) father is deceased while she must attend a garden party at Lord Ascot's state, where she keeps seeing a white rabbit in waistcoat go by in the bushes. She later finds out the party is actually a set-up for a marriage proposal to her. She doesn't know how to react to all this, deciding instead to go after the rabbit she kept seeing and ends up falling down a rabbit hole by a tree, where an unexpected journey awaits her.

The plot isn't actually too hard to follow and there aren't really any holes in the story that I could see. While this isn't a straight-up adaptation of the books, rather taking elements from them to form a new tale, it's pretty fun to watch (despite small moments of gore) and, if you have read the books, try to figure out what part of the movie comes from which book. Sometimes I enjoy seeing people create their own interpretation of another story/stories, and Tim Burton's Wonderland is one of the more enjoyable ones. While it's the usual duo of Burton and Depp, the latter doesn't take the spotlight like with Pirates of the Caribbean or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (which Burton actually directed), instead letting Alice take center stage for the majority of the movie.

The special effects used in this movie are really impressive, doing their job to bring the world of Wonderland Underland to life. Despite its name, Underland is a visual wonderland (pun intended), if a little gruesome in a few places. Still, this fantasy land is visually stunning and I wish I had gotten to see more of it. In fact, you could say that the designs give the place a tone somewhere between the 1951 Disney version and American McGee's Alice. The effects used on the creatures in the movie, especially those with fur like the Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry), are equally impressive and their voice actors, alongside the actual actors, help bring life to the characters.

This version of Alice in Wonderland is a movie I would recommend to anyone, whether they are a fan of Tim Burton/Johnny Depp or not. I guarantee you will have a good time with this movie or, if you've seen enough Tim Burton movies, you'll have a better time with this than some of his other works, like the aforementioned Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. If you are a purist however, and your expectations are that this movie will be like the books or whatever your favorite version of the story is, especially the first Disney version, this probably isn't a movie for you.

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