In “Alice in Wonderland,” the main character is faced with a difficult decision – marry the person she is expected to, or risk staying single and unhappy all her life. Alice decides to do neither, but instead follows a white rabbit through his hole.
The story is certainly familiar to most moviegoers, but to a Wonderland virgin, it offers numerous surprises and only a few – as one can expect from a blockbuster like this – foreseeable plot turns. “Alice in Wonderland” is typical classical Hollywood cinema, featuring a protagonist who has to overcome a burden and learns and evolves through his journey. This makes the movies slightly predictable, but not enough to make the storyline boring.
Director Tim Burton’s vision of Alice’s wonderland is truly magical. As soon as the viewer enters this strange world, the flowers seem alive with color and the animals human in their facial expressions. The computer animation is one of the movie’s strong points. Alice meets a courageous mouse, a depressed hound dog and hookah-smoking Blue Caterpillar and one easily forgets that this world is not ours. Alan Rickman stands out in his voiceover work for the caterpillar, most Harry Potter fans will immediately recognize him and be pleased with the great job he did.
While up to now fairly unknown to the masses, Mia Wasikowska is not a newcomer. Her experience shows, as she realistically portrays Alice’s innocence and at the same time makes her a strong character. Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter deserved more screen time, he played his role with brilliance and just the right amount of madness.
The Red Queen, portrayed by Helena Bonham Carter, is unbelievably evil, yet does not seem smart enough to pull this feat off. Carter still makes us believe in the Red Queen’s power. While Anne Hathaway is a great actress, her White Queen seemed simply strange and too good to be real at times.
One point of criticism concerning almost all of the actors is their constant use of accents. Accents add realism to a character, but moviegoers should still be able to understand what is being said, which was not always the case.
With this movie, Burton followed the successful concept of collaborating with his wife Helena Bonham Carter and actor Johnny Depp, and it doesn’t disappoint. The fact that it doesn’t measure up to “Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” doesn’t mean the movie isn’t good. It just means that “Sweeny Todd” was better.
Danny Elfman’s music stands out in the way it underlines the action and compliments the quieter scenes without being too apparent in the visual medium of film. The score and the pacing of the movie were spot on, as both manage to pull the viewer into this wonderland. Burton found a well-working balance between action, drama and the funny scenes that make you laugh. So while “Alice in Wonderland” is not the must-see movie of the year, it certainly offers good entertainment.