In typical Tim Burton style, Disney’s Alice in Wonderland (3D) dips its toe into borderline madness. But that’s to be expected from a film based on the famous Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll. And “based” is the correct term. Anyone who has read the classic will recognise the characters and the settings, but the story itself, whilst anchored in the book, diverges and follows its own path. The more astute viewer may notice that Wonderland is a darker place than you might think, and that some of the famous scenes, The Mad Hatter’s tea party for instance, have a more solemn and painful undertone.
Initially you may chalk this up to the film having been directed by Tim Burton, whose mantra is dark and disturbing, but that’s not the only reason for the shift in mood. The story unfolds to reveal that Wonderland, which is actually called Underland, has fallen under the dominion of the Red Queen (from Alice Through the Looking Glass and not to be mistaken with the Queen of Hearts), who has stolen the crown from her sister, The White Queen. The array of familiar characters are searching for “the right Alice” who is prophesised to kill the Jaberwocky (a creature that again features in Through the Looking Glass and not in Wonderland) and restore The White Queen to the throne of Underland.
A pedantic literary comparison aside, the film itself is visually stunning. The 3D option fills the frame, and the wonderful colours and effects make it so that sometimes you forget to blink. Burton’s regular troop of Johnny Depp (who steals the show) and Helena Bonham Carter are superbly supported by Anne Hathaway, Alan Rickman, Mat Lucas and Stephen Fry to name but a few. With a compelling pace and an engaging plot, characters you care about and laughs abound (especially from The March Hare), Alice in Wonderland is a wonderful pass time that will see you leaving the cinema with a smile on your face. Although a Disney production, I would hesitate to show the film to younger children as, although the violence is cartoon, the dark setting and irregular jumps may be too much for a very young viewer. Overall, Alice is another showpiece for the emerging 3D technology to demonstrate exactly what cinema can be.