In 1865, an Englishman named Charles Lutwidge Dodgson wrote Alice's Adventures in Wonderland under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. The novel was full of whimsy and adventure and playful poetry. Almost a century and a half later, Walt Disney released
Now, 50 years later, Tim Burton has released another film version of the classic novels. This new film is not an exact adaptation of either the first novel or its sequel, but is much closer to Through the Looking-Glass.
The film opens in England when Alice is only a child. She tells her father all about her strange dreams involving a rabbit hole and a Mad Hatter. After her father tells her that she must be mad, but the best people are a little bit mad, the film cuts to thirteen years later when Alice is almost 19. She is attending her own engagement party and runs away once an awkward Englishman asks for her hand, following a white rabbit in a waistcoat down a hole.
After an exciting montage of Alice falling down the rabbit hole, she finds herself in the familiar room with only a table, a key, and a bottle that reads "Drink Me." After some shrinking and growing, Alice makes it outside and is greeted by the Door Mouse, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, the Cheshire Cat, and some talking flowers. The next act of the film consists of the familiar Alice characters discussing about whether or not this Alice is the right Alice. Eventually, you find out that the right Alice is the one who visited Wonderland as a little girl. It has been prophesied that this real Alice will slay the Jabberwocky and restore the White Queen to her throne, which was taken by her evil sister, the Red Queen. This is where the central theme of the film comes in to play: even though there is a prophesy, can Alice control her own fate?
The rest of the film follows Alice as she infiltrates the queen's lair disguised as a girl named “Um,” retrieves the Vorpal Sword from the Bandersnatch's lair, rescues the Mad Hatter from the evil queen's clutches, and, finally, battles the dreaded Jabberwocky.
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But, enough about the story. As is usual with Tim Burton, the story does not reign supreme in
That being said, the story didn't completely fall flat on its face. The film's plot was different from anything that Lewis Carroll ever wrote, but was still closer to the novels than the animated version was. It was closer in the sense that it included many of Carroll's poems and creatures that were left out of the cartoon. An aspect of the plot I loved was the deep character development bestowed upon Alice. In the animated version, you are immediately thrown into Wonderland, without a care about what happens to Alice. Burton was able to make audiences care about her. Although the plot was simple, it certainly wasn't awful.
Tim Burton is a visionary. Many believe that he simply slaps white paint on people's faces, hangs up some spiders, and calls a film good. But I actually enjoy watching his films. The settings of Alice are extraordinary. Burton has created an entirely new universe, based on Carroll's vision, that's filled with gorgeous castles, vast stretches of dead trees, and a gigantic chess set battlefield. The backgrounds of bright, peculiar flowers and an almost organic sky add an immense amount of depth to Alice. Since the plot isn't at the heart of the film, it could be debated that the visuals are at the heart, since it is clear that they are what Burton poured the majority of his efforts into.
However, the characters of
From the moment the opening credits start rolling, you know that Danny Elfman scored
I wouldn't call
Loaded with spontaneity, great acting, spot on character development, and loads of eye candy, I'll give Tim Burton's