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Each week, PS News's film critic Victor Rebikoff will highlight the latest offerings from the silver screen and share his expert commentary for our information and guidance.
Alice in Wonderland
Director: Tim Burton Walt Disney Pictures, PG, 108 mins
Lewis Carroll’s famous children’s classic has been transformed into a major motion picture by Sweeney Todd director Tim Burton.
Burton’s 3D rendition of Alice in Wonderland is presented as a sequel to earlier versions and has a teenage Alice return to the magical world of Underland where she originally ventured as a child.
In Underland she reunites with her old friends and learns of her true fate- to end the Red Queen's reign of terror.
Alice (a great performance from Canberra actress Mia Wasikowska) appears as an easily distracted 19-year-old who seems out of place with her subdued Victorian surroundings.
Dodging a garden-party marriage proposal from the snooty son of a royal, Alice opts to chase after a watch-clutching white rabbit (voiced by Michael Sheen-Frost/Nixon) as she plunges deeper and deeper into Underland, not realising that she has been down this particular rabbit hole before.
Without having to repeat the same narrative path that other movies have followed- including Disney's own 1951 animated version- Burton’s approach is to freely use all of the familiar faces that inhabit the land at the bottom of the rabbit hole including talking caterpillars, sword wielding mice, twin spherical boys and a large talking Cheshire Cat (voiced by British actor Stephen Fry).
All the characters recognise Alice even though she cannot recall meeting them before.
Burton teams up again with Sweeney Todd stars Johnny Depp and Helen Bonham Carter who play the other main characters- the Mad Hatter and the Red Queen- delighting everyone with their performances especially the Red Queen with her frequent use of the expression “off with her/his head”.
Besides a clumsy plot, Burton’s Alice is a darker interpretation of the classic story showing Alice in some scenes dressed in armour, leading the army of the White Queen (Anne Hathaway- Get Smart) and involved in a deadly fight scene with the dreaded Jabberwocky (voiced by Star Wars star Christopher Lee).
At times it also appears that Burton’s focus was more on the Mad Hatter’s character played by favourite actor Depp rather than on Alice, his main character.
Burton’s movie is visually entertaining due in large part to some wonderful animation, cinematography, design and performances from the three major stars- especially from Wasikowska, but it is doubtful whether his 3D version with its PG rating will be palatable to watch by younger members of the audience.
VIC'S VERDICT: 3 ½ Rubber Stamps
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