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Alice in Wonderland

When I first heard about Tim Burton making an adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, I was really on the fence about it. While Burton's works are often imaginative, his films can range from being fantastic to downright underwhelming. So, naturally, I didn't go into this film expecting too much, save some creative and fanciful visual work. However, after watching the film, I can actually say that I th roughly enjoyed Burton's take on the timeless classic.

The film isn't a remake of Alice in Wonderland, as it references Alice's original adventure, but it also certainly isn't an adaptation of the official sequel, Through The Looking Glass. Instead, the story in this film takes elements from both of these stories, while creating its own narrative. Anyway, as the film starts, we find that our titular protagonist is now much older, her age being that of 19. Just as Alice is being proposed to by a pompous lord, however, she finds herself accidentally being whisked away back to the land she visited as a child - "Wonderland", as she called it. However, it's been years since Alice's last visit, so she therefore remembers absolutely nothing of her previous endeavors, though the inhabitants of Wonderland certainly haven't forgotten about Alice.

Unlike the books, as well as previous Alice in Wonderland adaptations, there's actually a story this time around as opposed to a minimalist narrative. This is both good and bad, as the story helps us to feel emotionally connected to the characters and places of Wonderland. However, because there's a story, we're given a few storyboard cliches like revolution or fulfillment of prophecy.

Regardless, the film is still quite whimsical and imaginative, as expected out of the minds of both Burton's directing and Carroll's original characters. What I especially enjoyed was Burton's take on Wonderland. He was able to keep the magic and heart the world had, plus add elements of his own, without ever delving into his usual gothic overtones - which, frankly, have gotten a bit tiresome.

The characters are all quite enjoyable and charming as well. Mia Wasikowska, who plays Alice, was especially captivating and thoughtful, perhaps even outshining larger names like Johnny Depp or Helena Bonham Carter. The Cheshire Cat, the White Rabbit, Absolem the Caterpillar, the Red Queen - all of these characters are well-represented and entertaining to watch. The only character that was a mxied bag, however, was actually the Mad Hatter. While it was great to see this one-note character become much deeper, he seemed to lack any of the attributes that made the original Hatter so entertaining to begin with. Granted, he's still an interesting character, but it took me much longer, as a viewer, to like the Hatter than anyone else.

One major fault the film has, though, is a weak third act. We're led into this whimsical and magical tale, with cautions of violence from the beginning, but the execution of this final act is just disappointing. The reasons behind the flashy violence can be understood, but it pales in comparison to the rich beginnings of the film. This final battle is almost Hollywood even, as it's all style but little substance. There's even a scene where, I kid you not, The Mad Hatter break-dances. This was hinted at numerous times before, but the end result is just so clumsy and awkward, to the point where its removal probably would have been for the best.

It has flaws, there's no denying that. However, Burton's take on Alice in Wonderland will enchant audiences with familiar characters, great visuals, and a whimsical narrative that has the heart of the timeless classic.





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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

LaylaViolet said...
Mar. 22, 2010 at 4:18 pm
I only saw it twice, and I say I have to agree with you. Mad Hatter's dancing was awful, but the rest of the film was good. You didn't mention the white queen (anne hathaway), though.
 
archery10 replied...
Mar. 28, 2010 at 4:47 pm
I've seen it once, and i loved the movie! I admit hatters dancing was really wierd, but i thought it was pretty funny. Also, you never mentioned the white queen. Overall, awsome review!
 
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