Johnny Depp’s newest collaboration with Tim Burton is a delightful trip down the rabbit hole.
Alice (Mia Wasikowka) has had the same dream all of her life. She dreams of falling into a world where bugs, mice and rabbits talk. Her adoring father is always there to assure her that all is well.
Years later, with her father dead, she is in line to marry a terminally dorky Lord (Leo Bill.) However, after being proposed to she bolts and falls into the world of her dreams.
It is here that the Lewis Carroll story becomes Tim Burton’s creation.
After tumbling down the seemingly endless rabbit hole, Alice finds herself in a land where up is down. An evil queen (Helena Bonham Carter,) rules by beheading.
As with every incarnation of this charming story, things in Wonderland are bizarre. Tim Burton’s ‘Alice’ is full of rich characters both animated and human. The white rabbit (Michael Sheen,) Tweedledee/Tweedledum (Matt Lucas,) and The Cheshire Cat, (voiced by Stephen Fry,) are just a few residents of Wonderland.
During her trip through this strange land, Alice meets the craziest character of them all, the Mad Hatter. Johnny Depp has turned in so many stellar performances it seems redundant to say that he is brilliant here. However he is brilliant with talent to spare. Depp’s hatter is warm, charming and ‘crazy like a fox.’
The Red Queen (Carter,) is so horrid that everyone is afraid of her. Stayne, her Knave of Hearts played by Crispin Glover, walks a fine line between being her love interest and her enemy. Anyone’s head could be offed at any moment, leaving everyone on eggshells.
When the hatter and the other guests of a tea party are taken to the Red Queen’s castle, Alice must mount a rescue mission.
After infiltrating the castle, Alice discovers that her role in Wonderland is complicated and dangerous. As a matter of fact, the whole fate of Wonderland rests on her shoulders. We find her shoulders are strong and she is as clever as she is brave.
Alice finds that many of the characters correlate with people she knows topside. This is just one similarity to the most classic fairy tale of all, ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ Also similar are the relationships that our heroine forms with the citizens of Wonderland. Alice, as with Dorothy gets help from the strangest of creatures and finds herself caring about them. This new Wonderland isn’t a musical , however with talents like Depp and the beautiful Mia Wasikowka it’s charm overcomes it’s lack of singing.
Johnny Depp as been praised above a few times, but there are many stand-outs in this cast.
Anne Hathaway plays ‘The White Queen.” Her’s is a short but impressive pivotal role, and Ms. Hathaway is up to the challenge.
Crispin Glover who always choses the role that is the most bizarre is great as the butt-kissing Stayne.
The Blue Caterpillar gets it’s formidable voice from one of the best actors in the business, Alan Rickman. Most will recognize the voice as Snape from the Harry Potter series.
The dear and brave hound, Bayard is voiced by another ‘Harry Potter’ Alum. Timothy Spall plays Peter Pettigrew in the popular series. He is charming as the hound who has to save his family from the very evil Red Queen.
This film is charming, warm, funny and poignant. It’s appropriate for most children (very young kids might find it a bit scary.) It is also important to know that Tim Burton made this film his own. Lewis Carroll’s story isn’t here intact. It doesn’t need to be, this is a fantasy and ANYTHING can happen in a fantasy, even making an original masterpiece better.