ARIZONA REPORTER




Movie Reviews - 04/03

Alice in Wonderland a Perturbing and Scary Film


By Susan Granger - "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," first published in 1865, is Lewis Carroll's droll, disturbing socio-political parody, disguised as a creepy, surreal children's fantasy about a precocious child wandering through weird environments and meeting bizarre characters.


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"Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," first published in 1865, is Lewis Carroll's droll, disturbing socio-political parody, disguised as a creepy, surreal children's fantasy about a precocious child wandering through weird environments and meeting bizarre characters.

Incorporating "Through the Looking Glass," this fanciful adaptation or re-imagination introduces 19 year-old Alice Kingsleigh (Mia Wasikowska), who is still haunted by the "dream" she had as a child. So, as she's being courted by priggish Lord Hamish (Leo Bill), a titled aristocrat whom her mother wants her to marry, she impulsively darts away from a Victorian garden party, tumbling down a rabbit hole into a hallucinatory world.

After following the White Rabbit (voiced by Michael Sheen), confronting Tweedledum/Tweedledee (Matt Lucas), consulting with Absolem, the Blue Caterpillar (voiced by Alan Rickman), and the disembodied Cheshire Cat (voiced by Stephen Fry), she's once again befriended by the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), who ruefully realizes she's lost her spunk, which he calls her "muchness." To regain that, she discovers her destiny is to be the champion of the saintly White Queen (Anne Hathaway) and slay the ferocious Jabberwocky dragon (voiced by Christopher Lee) dispatched by her sister, the despotic Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter, Tim Burton's real-life wife).

Certainly, there's no director more attuned to grotesque psychotropic phenomena than Tim Burton ("Edward Scissorhands," "Sweeney Todd," "Beetlejuice"), whose adult concept is further fragmented by Linda Woolverton's action-driven, girl-power coming-of-age script in which Alice, afraid she's gone bonkers, inquires, "Do you think I've gone ‘round the bend?" To which her father answers, "All the best people are."

Meanwhile, whimsical Wonderland has become CGI-enhanced Underland with spectacular landscapes designed by Robert Stromberg ("Avatar"). Johnny Depp's mercury-poisoned Mad Hatter is fascinating to watch and Mia Wasikowska resembles a young Gwyneth Paltrow.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Alice in Wonderland" is a perturbing, scary 7. Despite the PG rating, this is NOT a very young children's movie. Tiny tots could be bewildered, perhaps terrified. You may want to wait for the dvd release that's already been scheduled for June.

© Susan Granger "Alice in Wonderland" (Walt Disney Studios)

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