Review: Alice in Wonderland
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3/5It was inevitable that the master of the modern cinematic fairy-tale would tackle Lewis Carrol's classic mad-cap children's tale. The imagery of Wonderland could have been created for Tim Burton to translate to the screen, and expectations are high for this continuation of Alice's adventures.
Following a 19-year-old Alice, who has all but forgotten her previous visit to Wonderland (weirdly called 'Underland' by the inhabitants), as she returns to free her old friends from the evil tyranny of the Red Queen, Burton's adaptation sticks largely to the original story.
Whilst Burton's post-modern mish-mash vision of Wonderland would likely be more to Carrol's liking than the sugary-sweet Disney animated original it still feels a little conventional. Those wanting a Burton-esque delve in to twisted, gothic darkness may feel short-changed by what is essentially a predictable take on the tale.
Unlike, say, the horrifying take on Oz in Return to Oz there is no real suggestion that these fantasy worlds can also be scary places to find yourself in. Even the evil Red Queen (brilliantly portrayed by Helena Bonham-Carter) is a cartoonish, humorous foe.
Regardless Burton is a brilliant visual artist, and this is where he truly delivers. The creepy fantasy landscapes of 'Underland' simply jump from the screen (with or without 3D) and it is the perfect visual advertisement for the wonders of cinema.
But the over-zealous use of CGI produces a claustrophobic, often lifeless ambience that left me a little cold - when the story is all about fantastical warmth.
In particular the computer-enhanced characters fall-short as much as they succeed - for the brilliance of the Red Queen we are affronted by the clunky Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee. The look of the tubby-twosome seriously diminishes the likeability of their eccentric, nonsensical banter despite Matt Lucas being perfectly cast in both roles.
In fact the casting is flawless throughout. Mia Wasikowska is a perfect Alice, whilst Johnny Depp puts in a truly convincing turn as the Mad Hatter and each and every character is brilliantly fleshed out by quality performances.
Alice in Wonderland is a flawed but enjoyable take on a classic. It's visual prowess makes it a decent cinematic experience, just don't sit-down expecting anything challenging or original.
A feast for the eyes but not the brain, Alice in Wonderland is a perfectly acceptable family film.