What happens when you’re a creative-minded child and your mom starts warning you of the “Cinderella syndrome” at a very young age?
You naturally gravitate to Disney movies like Alice in Wonderland. And you watch it over and over and over and over again until either you’re a grown adult or VCRs become obsolete.
(For me, it was the VCR.)
Naturally, last summer when I heard Disney was coming out with a Johnny Depp’d version of Alice in Wonderland I was thrilled … and to be honest a little leery. Many Burton/Depp flicks are a little much for me – think Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Alice allegiant, to the movies we went. And am I ever glad we did. We saw the movie in 3D, which was cool but not totally necessary.
The movie, set in old-world London to start, is a perfect hybrid between the animated Disney flick and the Looking Glass books. Within the opening scenes it is difficult to tell whether the movie is going to turn creepy Burton-esque as the child version of Alice is ghostly white with dark circles under her eyes and the music could just as easily be suited for The Sixth Sense. As it progresses, it turns out everyone in London during that era is ghostly white. The entire set design is dreary grey and black, with the only contrasts of colors coming from the bright characters and their clothing.
Really stroking my anti-Cinderella-Syndrom ego, Burton’s Alice is a forward-thinking power chick. She is intellectual, adventurous and independent – and those characteristics develop more strongly each scene.
The costumes and make-up were critical to each character’s interpretation, and perfectly captured the original Alice cast while transporting them to a modern era. Alice started off wearing a traditional baby blue, fully covering gown. As her character grew – both figuratively and literally – she changed to a strapless slate blue gown, a red tea-length dress and finally a metal armour suit.
The first inkling of her independence appears when she flees from her would-be fiance to explore the mysterious white rabbit and then drops into Wonderland after sticking her head in the rabbit’s hole.
From that moment, Burton brilliantly whisks viewers into the enchanting Wonderland and introduces all of the favorite characters – Cheshire Cat, talking flowers, the Queens, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, the March Hare, the Door Mouse, the flamingo croquet sticks, the hedge hog croquet balls, the caterpillar – and of course the Mad Hatter.
Knowing Johnny Depp’s typical character and seeing his picture splashed across all of the promos, it was tough to tell which way he was going to go in this movie. By pure definition he is a “mad” hatter – and he played it so. However, rather than a creepy mad man, Depp portrayed the hatter as a charming soul that lost his way. Depp’s Hatter was sensitive, a loyal friend, had a positive focus and mild lisp. It was hard not to fall madly in love with him, pardon the pun.
I’d be remise in not mentioning the amazingly talented Helen Bonham Carter. She is one of the few actresses who has ridden her acting abilities to the top, rather than her celebutante status. She captured my heart in Hamlet and she does it again as the Red Queen – this time with character conviction, a giant head and a touch of humor.
I could go on and on about my love for this movie, but I firmly believe that no review will ever do it justice. Go see it. Even non-Alice-junkies won’t be disappointed.