#15 Alice in Wonderland
Often, remaking a beloved classic movie can be a dangerously bad idea. Tim Burton’s re-imagining of Lewis Carroll’s classic tale of a girl in a mysterious new land hits all the right notes, pulling just the right details from “Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass” with just enough modern sophistication thrown in to keep it interesting. Watching this movie in 3D must be what it was like for Carroll’s contemporaries reading “Alice” for the first time, with all it’s fantastic events.
Purists should be aware that this story is not an exact translation of the Alice books, nor is it a rehash of the classic Disney cartoon. It is rather, a revisiting of Wonderland. Without giving too much of the story away, we learn early on that Alice has been here before, though she doesn’t remember. What follows is a fantastic journey through an enchanted world. Fans of Carroll’s work will likely be delighted to finally see a bandersnatch and a jubjub bird realized on the big screen. Johnny Depp does an excellent job of capturing the Hatter’s madness, and Helena Bonham Carter is outstanding as the Red Queen. Though the Knave of Hearts is far more prominent in this version than any other, including the books, Crispin Glover (Back to the Future’s George McFly) does an excellent job of portraying the elongated fiend with exceeding creepiness. The Chessire Cat (voiced by Stephen Frye) is delightfully mad, and Alan Rickman as the Caterpillar is an inspired choice. Anne Hathaway is beautiful as the White Queen. Let us not forget Alice. The delightfully beautiful Mia Wasikowska brings wonder and innocence to the screen in a time when it was thought this feat was impossible–but then Alice always tries to think 6 impossible things before breakfast!
Sure, Tim Burton is up to his usual tricks, including his familiar signatures (stripes, spiral staircases, white makeup, Johny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, and a tinkly Elfman score), but he uses a much brighter palette, injecting colour into the story, and downplaying the tropes you’ve come to know and love. Some might say he’s a one-trick-pony, but I make no bones about the fact that I love that one trick and will gladly plunk down my dollar to see it every time Burton trots out on stage.
Pay the extra few dollars and see this in 3D. It really is amazing. The visuals are stunning, and the effects are phenomenal. It’s worth it.