Alice in Underland? a Wonderland review
Is Tim Burtons vision of wonderland a dream or a nightmare?
First off, let me start by saying I am a huge fan of both Tim Burton and the classic tale of Alice in Wonderland. In fact it has been one of my favorite books since I was a child. Being also a lover of film, I have seen almost(I say only cause there were a great many silent films made of the tale in the early 30's to somewhere in the 40's)every incarnation of the tale of Alice in Wonderland ever put on film. Because of both these facts I have been waiting the past two years for Burton's interpretation of Lewis Carroll's classic.
I have literally just finished watching a decent quality bootleg copy of Burton's Wonderland, the first words that come to mind: a very entertaining movie, well written and well put together, all in all a very good watch.
For those of you looking for a basic, non biest, non spoiler filled review that was it. Anyone else who happens to be, like myself a fan of both story telling elements(and don't mind a few tidbits here and there)read on.
First off, as I'm sure most interested in reading this already know, Burton's effort is not a retelling but rather a sequel. Doing this allowed Burton to put his own flavor into the mix of the story. In doing so he tried to stay true to many element of both the short stories of Alice in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass, adding bit and pieces of both laced through out the whole of the film. I would have to say he took his biggest ques from Through The Looking Glass, being that the primary plot device is Alice battling the Jabawalky. The shaping of this element of the plot is one of my biggest contentions with Burton's take. I feel it is a dishonor to Carrol's simple story of a girl's beguiling adventures in a strange dream land of sorts and turns it into your basic hero slays the dragon to save the land type of tale, witch "Wonderland" was never intended to be. The only thing that saves this shifting of genres is it's actually a rather small part of the real storyline of the film. Witch, at it's heart, is Carroll's tale of a young girl learning who she really is by having to go through the experience of constantly explaining herself, and redefineing who she is with the changes happening to her(i.e. the size shifting)and around her. But as I said Burton does stay true to many things right out of the book. Another thing Burton does is not so much of a change as much as filling blanks you never even knew were there. Blanks such as giving names to characters that up until now(around two hundred years or so)had no need of a name other then Mad Hatter, or Door Mouse. Normally a thing like this would have me up in arm's screaming from the rafters, but in this case not so much. It's Burton's usage that is the healing remedy; the handful of character that have new names are called by them so little it really does nothing more then add weight to a world that most would think a hollow dream world. And I sincerely hope this was Burton's only desired effect.
Newcomer Mia Wasikowska does an excellent job at capturing Alice's flighty, nonsensical nature while also being able to pull off the strength the character needs to show her growth. Growth both as a young women learning how to survive in the big strange new world she finds herself in, and the strength to believe in herself enough to except the challenges of maturity and being able to do what you know you must. Even if you don't always want to.
Deep's funny, often nutty, and always poignant Mad Hatter(like all of his performances in my opinion)is on a whole other level. If Wasikowska's Alice is the heart of the film Deep's Hatter is most definitely it's soul. At time's, mostly while or after departing lyrical words of wisdom, he almost seems to be a love interest of sorts for our now grown up Alice. Another thing Burton did, along with giving Hatter a real name(uttered only once), was add a new dimension to his "madness" with an unintroduced split personality. This alternate personality only makes himself known four or five times during the movie. The shifts are only really noticeable by a change in Deep's accent and over all attitude. With this new side Deep adopts a rough Scottish borough and an almost bitter war hungry demeanor. It would seem, Hatter has been holding the torch of a conspiracy among the few well known Wonderland characters we see in the film to over throw the Red Queen. The final key to this revolt being Alice's confrontation with the Jabawaly.
I would love to go into all the little details of the plot, my likes and dislikes but that would ruin the way you yourself experience and view the film. Yes, there are many things Burton added and changed that have nothing to do with the classic tale of Alice in Wonderland. That's why he made it a sequel, so he can he go as far to blatantly say "the events you know of as the story of Alice in Wonderland did happen, it's just that Alice doesn't remember them" as a matter of fact it is this lapse in memory that gives us the name Wonderland. In Burton's world the name of the place is Underland but Alice called it Wonderland mistakenly as a child. Anyway the most important thing, I think, is still there: the theme of the story of a young girl learning how to deal with reality by way of the help of this possibly impossable imaginary world. A thing I wish was truly possable for us all.
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