Wonderland Impresses And Delights

Wonderland Impresses And Delights Alice! A childish story take,
And with a gentle hand
Lay it where Childhood's dreams are twined...

Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” was no doubt magical, though it wasn’t child-like Alice many were expecting to see. Many expected a re-enactment of the Disney movie of events, but we were given a sequel to the books instead. If you were going to the theater expecting to see the Disney version, I can understand why you might be disappointed. However, I was not one of those people. I read about the plot at least six months beforehand and was very excited to see Burton’s version of events that happened after Alice fell through the rabbit-hole for a second time.

Thursday evening I donned my Alice costume and leggings, put my stuffed white rabbit in my purse, and drove to the theater for the midnight premiere. After several previews, the music began. And we were immediately whisked off to Wonderland. Not expecting to see Alice as a child, I was pleasantly delighted with a small glimpse into that world at the beginning, and just as delighted to see the phrase ‘13 years later’. Our journey was going to begin for real.

Mia Wasikowska was an amazing choice for Alice. Her voice in the movie possessed a dream-like quality and I was immediately taken with her because of that. In the beginning of the movie, she does not remember Wonderland. However, she still retains the sense of wonder perhaps, however, in a more “grown-up” way. She is, after all, nearly twenty in the movie.

Alice tumbles down to Wonderland after running away from a proposal and chasing the White Rabbit she’s been chasing throughout the party she is attending. Now we’re really in Wonderland. And upon first look at Burton’s Wonderland, my immediate though was “Wonderland gone wild”. Things have changed. Very fantastical still, but wild in a sense. Like an overgrown garden that has long since been tended. And while there is certainly time for laughter, there are much more pressing things at hand, Alice is soon to find out. And she will find out just where her place is meant to be within them.

I must admit, the Hatter’s character was not something I was thrilled about upon entering the theater. I was quite upset that we were hearing more about the Hatter than Alice herself. But I was very surprised, and happily so. He was a character, a real one. He had history and emotions. He almost had a split-personality in a way. Johnny Depp stated in interview he wanted to give the Hatter more of a character, and he certainly succeeded.

Helena Bonham Carter as did her role as the Red Queen exceptional justice. She’s funny, she’s scary at times, despite the comical size of her head. At times you are reminding of a sulking girl, a surly teenager, and a dictator gone made with power. To spin all those things together and have it all work takes exceptional skill, which she clearly possesses.

There is nothing campy about Burton’s “Alice”. All the characters are done incredibly well. The caterpillar is, in fact, a caterpillar. And not an eight foot tall one, though the hookah is still present, of course. (The movie was rated PG for, among other things, a smoking caterpillar.)

I laughed, I cried. I squeezed the stuffed rabbit I took to the theater when things got scary. I walked away knowing I had seen something magical and wanting to see it again.

I am not a pushover when it comes to “Alice” things. Quite the opposite. It takes a lot to impress me. But Burton did, as did his cast. I’ve now seen the movie twice and I’m certain I’ll see it again. But you should see it now. Marvel at the Cheshire cat, the creatures from the books and not just the Disney version of events. Enjoy the sequel and don’t look for the Disney remake.

“There is a place. Like no place on Earth. A land full of wonder, mystery, and danger! Some say to survive it: You need to be as mad as a hatter. Which, lucky, I am.”

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