Movie Review: Alice in Wonderland

Last night I had the opportunity to preview Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, which is slated to open in DC theaters on Friday March 5. Throughout the story, Alice gets accused of not being the “real Alice” and if you are a true fan of Lewis Carroll’s original tale, Tim Burton’s version may not be “real Alice” enough for you. But it is an enjoyable version nonetheless.

Rather than update the original story, Tim Burton appropriates Carroll’s characters and uses them in his own modern-fantasy film. In his version, the story begins with an older Alice, attending her proposal party. The “adults” in her life are in essence telling her what her life ought to be: to marry a Lord she doesn’t love and take her place in society. Unconvinced, she drops out of the party and falls down the rabbit hole into a visually stunning -if dreary- Underland. There, she carves her own path towards not only defeating the Red Queen but also finding out who the “real Alice” is and what her personal path in life shall be.

Johnny Depp – Mad Hatter, Helena Bonham-Carter – Red Queen
 in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland Photographs by Mary Ellen Mark

I felt the movie lacked a bit of humour and did not enjoy the 3D experience. Alice in Wonderland was originally shot in 2D then transferred to 3D but the effects are more distracting to the plot than spectacular and while children might enjoy them, I would recommend that grown-ups save the extra bucks. The true wonder of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, for me, was the visual universe of the film, of which the costumes play an important part. For Alice, Tim Burton hired one of Hollywood’s most sought-after designers, Colleen Atwood. The American designer, who has been nominated for 8 Oscars throughout her career and has won two, is no stranger to the creative universe of Tim Burton. If Alice in Wonderland, marks the seventh collaboration between the director and (France resident) Johnny Depp, it also marks the fifth time he has worked with Colleen Atwood. Her creations, from the various dresses that Alice dons as she switches sizes to Johnny Depp’s colorfully punk rock Mad Hatter outfit or the thigh high poker print stockings worn by The Red Queen are visually stunning and have already fuelled Alice-inspired fashion and beauty trends throughout the world. I certainly will not be surprised to see Ms Atwood’s listed as a best designer nominee for the 2011 Academy Awards.  In meantime, tune into this year’s Oscars to see if she takes home a golden statuette for her work dressing Marion Cotillard and Penelope Cruz in Nine.

4 thoughts on “Movie Review: Alice in Wonderland

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