Movie Review: Alice in Wonderland

Movie Review: Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland

PG for fantasy action/violence involving scary images and situations
and for a smoking caterpillar.
Running Time: 1 Hour 48 Minutes

Walt Disney Pictures tapped director Tim Burton for this re-imagining of the 3D fantasy adventure Alice in Wonderland. This time around it’s a magical and imaginative twist on one of the most beloved stories of all time. Johnny Depp stars as the Mad Hatter and Mia Wasikowska stars as 19 year old Alice who returns to the world she first encountered as a young girl. Of course along the way she’s reunited with her childhood friends – the White Rabbit, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, the Dormouse, Caterpillar, The Cheshire Cat, and of course, the Mad Hatter.

With the duo of Burton and Depp together once again, it’s obvious this will be one colorful ride into Wonderland.

Why Is A Raven Like A Writing Desk?

This is not the Alice in Wonderland you grew up with as a kid. It’s 13 years later and this time around Alice embarks on a journey to find her true destiny and end the Red Queen’s reign of terror in Wonderland. Along the way she tries to connect fantasy, dream and even reality as she interacts with a number of interesting characters. Linda Woolverton wrote the screenplay for this updated twist on the old story. She does a wonderful job of recapturing and recasting the wonder of Lewis Carroll’s 1865 book Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass.

I went into the movie with an open mind. I like the duo of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. But I must also admit, sometimes Burton’s flicks are too predictable. It’s not quite like the old saying of – if you’ve seen one Burton movie you’ve seen them all – but it is close. The techniques are the same and the twists and turns are as similar as your daily drive to and from work.

However, when all is said and done, I have to admit I really enjoyed Alice in Wonderland.

This is not the same old same old when it comes to the eclectic style of Burton and Depp. If anything Burton has tapped into an incredible balance of brilliant colors and drab grays. As for Johnny Depp, he seemed somewhat invigorated in his portrayal of the Mad Hatter. He makes the character his own, while at the same time enables it to jump off the screen with creativity, fun, adventure and life. As for others involved in Alice in Wonderland, it truly is an all-star cast. Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter and Crispin Glover all add a sense of zest and excitement truly making this an adventure to remember.

An Attention To Detail

I love Tim Burton’s attention to detail in all he does. Not only do the scenes come to life, but he leaves no dangling thoughts along the way either…

Why is a raven like a writing desk?

Even that somewhat odd and out of place phrase is connected by the end of the movie. When it comes to special effects and computer generated graphics, I believe Tim Burton does it better than James Cameron. The effects in Avatar seem flat compared to the 3D feel of Alice in Wonderland even on a normal screen.

The story and plot lines of Alice in Wonderland could have been very complicated. Not only does it include the new twist to an old story, but it also connects the old story with the new. This is where Burton’s attention to detail really shines. Everything is woven together quite well. Alice in Wonderland reveals the storytelling brilliance of not only Burton as a director, but also of Johnny Depp as a character.

Disney Misses Rating ‘Again’!

The only downside of Alice in Wonderland is the rating. Once again Disney misses the mark when it comes to age appropriate.

With a PG rating we have to say Alice in Wonderland is not family-friendly. As a matter of fact, when I screened the movie, parents were taking some of their younger children out of the theater. Perhaps the filmmakers should have taken a cue from inside their own movie. Alice is suffering from nightmares as a result of her first trip to Wonderland when she was just 7 years old. The movie starts with her screaming as she awakes from her nightmare. Then, even when she’s older, she’s still have bad flashbacks about her first trip to Wonderland. This is a very accurate depiction of how the mind of a young child works.

Psychologically children usually do not start distinguishing between fantasy and reality until about the age of 11 or 12. As a result, a PG-13 rating would have been better for Alice in Wonderland. While this is in no way a totally over the top violent movie, the content is still too much for the really young. So, if you plan to take your kids to this movie, keep in mind that a more appropriate rating would have been PG-13.

This is far from the family-friendly Alice in Wonderland
original movie.

Overall, I really enjoyed Alice in Wonderland and believe it even tops the Burton/Depp combination in the 2005 hit Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I have to admit I would see this movie for a second time and might actually visit a 3D IMAX theater to do just that.

Enjoy the show!
Dr. Rus

About the Author

Dr. Rus has 30+ years experience in the field of communication. He takes this experience, and his passion to encourage others to positively effect their environment, when providing insight and movie reviews.