Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland is a gorgeous visual spectacle. Although fantasy films aren't exactly my favourite genre of film, watching this in 3-D (my very first time) was simply breathtaking.
The film is based on Lewis Carroll's books Alice in Wonderland, in addition to Through The Looking Glass. The story begins in Alice's (newcomer Mia Wasikowska) late teens, where she finds herself at a party in which she is to become engaged to Hamish (Leo Bill). She of course has absolutely no desire to marry him and escapes to Wonderland once again, lost and in danger at the hands of the evil Red Queen, acted to perfection by Helena Bonham-Carter. Along her journey, Alice is reunited with old friends including Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry) and Blue Caterpillar (Alan Rickman) whom are all there to protect her in uniting Alice with the good White Queen (Anne Hathaway). There is of course, a sibling rivalry between Red Queen and White Queen and in the end Alice acting as the White Queen's champion, is pitted against the Red Queen's champion, The Jabberwocky. But does she believe in herself enough to control her own destiny?
Although there are some riveting CGI graphics and very strong performances by the outstanding ensemble cast, all eyes just gravitate to Helena Bonham-Carter as the bulbous-headed Red Queen. Depp is curiously charming as Mad Hatter and Hathaway, whom I absolutely adore, is simply out-acted in this film perhaps confusing the true essence of White Queen in her exaggerated prissiness. Wasikowska exceeds all expectations as the film's star and certainly has a bright future ahead of her.
Let's be honest though - the narrative is far from perfect. There are many gaps in the back story of sibling rivalry between White Queen and Red Queen. Above this, many of the characters who appear in the story, which carries on Alice's legacy in her late teens already have a history with her which Burton assumes all know, which might be hasty. There are just enough details given in Alice in Wonderland to give the audience the gist of what Lewis Carroll's treasured stories are all about. In the end though, the true message of the story is timeless and important to young people: to live their lives on their own terms and to always make decisions for themselves.
Buena Vista's Alice in Wonderland is now in wide release and available in both 2-D and 3-D formats. Unfortunately the film didn't get a release in-time for 2010 Oscars consideration as it is deserving in the least of technical and costume (by the brilliant Colleen Atwood) awards consideration. As reported previously, the film will be available on DVD in approximately 12 weeks, as per a negotiated agreement between Disney and theatre owners. I'd definitely like to see this again. Grade: A