Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland is not the disaster I was afraid it might be, based on the trailers. Burton and screenwriter Linda Woolverton have done a pretty incredible job of taking the two Lewis Carroll books and retaining much of the essence, but giving the results a fresh, personal feeling. The film offers us 19-year-old Alice (Mia Wasikowska) as a young lady with a history of strange dreams that seem to have followed her into adulthood. She finds herself unwillingly attending a garden party where (as she finds out at the last moment) she’s expected to accept a financially desirable marriage proposal from the highly undesirable Hamish Ascot (Leo Bill). This changes, however, when she has the inevitable fall down the rabbit hole — and her adventures in Wonderland begin. Alice has been there before; it’s believed she can help the White Queen (Anne Hathway) defeat the Jabberwocky (voiced very briefly by Christopher Lee), a dragonlike monster used by the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) to retain control of Underland. More to the point, the film manages to craft characters in which we have some emotional investment. This is especially true of Alice and the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp). Depp’s Hatter looks pretty tiresome in the trailers, but he’s something very different in the film — a man who is drifting into insanity and sadly realizes it. Other characters are also observed with more sympathy than the books afford — even the Red Queen, who in the film is savvy enough to offer hints of the damaged child that spawned the monstrosity.
Director: Tim Burton
Writer: Lewis Carroll and Linda Woolverton
Producer: Richard D. Zanuck, Joe Roth, Suzanne Todd and Jennifer Todd
Cast: Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Crispin Glover, Matt Lucas, Michael Sheen, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall and Barbara Windsor