Tim Burton’s version of the classic Lewis Carroll tale of a girl named Alice visiting an unusual placed called Wonderland hit movie theaters on March 5. The previews for Alice in Wonderland didn’t do much for me when I saw them but my two daughters begged to see the movie. I had not planned to go until a friend suggested a group of moms and kids attend an afternoon showing on opening day (Associated Content Contributor Theresa Leschmann was one of those who attended with me – read her review of Alice in Wonderland here).
I will admit, I went into the theater expecting disappointment. I generally like Tim Burton’s weirdness but sometimes I am not impressed by it. Alice in Wonderland stars my all-time favorite actor – Johnny Depp so I thought if nothing else I could enjoy seeing him on the big screen – even if he does have orange fuzzy caterpillar-like eyebrows and crazy eyes.
Boy was I pleasantly surprised! The previews do not do this movie justice. They give no hint at how enjoyable Alice in Wonderland truly is. From the beginning of the movie I was not the least bit bored and I was completely drawn into the story of 19-year-old Alice as she struggles against the constraints of the 19th century England and the dictates of behavior for young ladies.
Alice’s flights of fancy cause her problems as does her desire to follow her own path in life rather than what she is told to do by someone else. After she rushes away from a terribly uncomfortable and very public marriage proposal, she chases a white rabbit in a blue waistcoat and falls down a rabbit hole – which takes her back to “Underland” (she had mistakenly referred to it as Wonderland previously).
She meets the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, the Red Queen, the White Queen and many other strange and wondrous creatures. The people of Underland need Alice to dethrone the big-headed Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) by defeating the jabberwocky – a dragon-like creature.
The residents of Underland are uncertain if this Alice is THE Alice who visited them 13 years earlier. THAT Alice is destined to defeat the jabberwocky and return the throne to the White Queen (Anne Hathaway) but this Alice doesn’t believe she can be a hero. Alice doesn’t actually remember visiting Underland previously, she thought her experiences were all recurrent nightmares she had been having since childhood.
Through her adventures this time around – from saving the Mad Hatter to finding a magical sword needed to defeat the jabberwocky, Alice learns that she is in control of her life and she can make her own decisions. This is a lesson she takes with her when she returns to her world.
The computer effects in Alice in Wonderland are seamless and they were so realistic it was difficult to tell what was real and what was a special effect (although I’m quite certain Bonham Carter’s head is not THAT big).
I was a little concerned about whether or not Alice in Wonderland would be appropriate for my three children (you just never know) but there was no need. My youngest is eight and was not scared by any of the action or the creatures, but a much younger child might be frightened when watching Alice in Wonderland especially in the end when the jabberwocky comes out. Some of the makeup of the characters (especially Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter) might be a little on the extra-creepy side for some youngsters.
Any violence in Alice in Wonderland is exaggerated and not bloody – it is mainly sword fighting and a few eye pokes that seemed to be a theme in the movie.
After the movie was over my 12-year-old son (who had been expecting the movie to “suck like a vacuum cleaner” – his words) agree that Alice in Wonderland had wowed him. I would definitely recommend Alice in Wonderland and in fact, I would even pay to see it again and my kids would insist on tagging along.
Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland will be on my list of must-have DVD’s when it is available. Yep, I liked it that much.