SF elements: Alice in Wonderland / Through the Looking Glass / Jabberwocky
When she was a child, Alice [Mia Wasikowska] went to Wonderland. Now she's grown up, and thinks of that adventure as a dream. During a garden party at which she is to become engaged, she spots the White Rabbit and chases him, falling down a hole in the ground. There she finds herself back in her old dream. But now it's subtly different: Underland (its real name; the young Alice miscalled it) is enduring a reign of terror under the the Red Queen of Hearts [Helena Bonham Carter, channelling Miranda Richardson's Queenie]; the Mad Hatter [Johnny Depp] has been sent really mad by this ( or has he? ); the White Queen [Anne Hathaway] can't regain her throne until Alice slays the fearsome Jabberwocky. But Alice is still convinced it is all a dream!
This is Tim Burton's "re-imagining" of Alice, with all the familiar elements even more surreal, due to the supposed changes since Alice's previous adventure there. We have shrinking Drink-Me bottles and growing Eat-Me cakes, Tweedledum and Teedledee [Matt Lucas x 2], the Dormouse, a hissable Knave of Hearts, even hedgehog/flamingo croquet, but all with a twist. The visuals are great, with the enormous-headed Red Queen surrounded by courtiers who have to pretend to be ugly, the elongated Knave, the white chess army versus the red card army, and the Jabberwocky itself (look, it's the Jabberwock , okay?). Only the Cheshire Cat [beautifully voiced by Stephen Fry] animation looks a bit naff. Alice's transformation from pale, sulky bystander to White Queen's champion feels right for someone who thinks they are dreaming. And the ending isn't a "no place like home" cop out, either!
Yet despite all the good bits, I feel it somehow lacks substance. The plot, despite the cleverness of exploiting original scenes and characters, is rather thin. Maybe the problem is that it has only the depth of the original children's story, but since it is about an adult, I was maybe expecting more? Anyhow, definitely worth watching, but no more than that.
reviewed 26 December 2012