Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Alice In Wonderland

Story: Alice runs away from her wedding and returns to Wonderland, once again. This time, she realises she must set things right in the strange land by siding up with the White Queen and putting an end to the Red Queen's reign of terror. Aiding her in her crusade are the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the Caterpillar and several others.

Movie Review: Tim Burton has a characteristic cinematic vision that completely defies the stereotype. Whatever be the story, this maverick film maker doesn't really believe in telling it straight. With Alice in Wonderland too, you might find the characters do emerge from the pages of Lewis Carroll's landmark book, but their contours, colours and contortions are all their own.

Hence, you have Alice (Mia Wasikowska), a runaway bride, going down the rabbit hole once again, in order to escape from an inconvenient marriage. You have the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) who doesn't only wear green mascara, he also wears his heart on his sleeve. Hear him tell Alice softly she needn't go back to the world above, and your heart almost melts. And then, there's the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter), a ruler who doesn't know whether it is better to be loved or feared. Do we hate her or do we pity her? Can't say. Or, more importantly, is she really mean, with her murderous `Off with their heads!' chant or is she just a victim of loneliness, isolation and rejection.

After all, she must have had a difficult life growing up grotesque and ugly, with a bulbous head, alongside her beautiful sister, the White Queen (Anne Hathaway). Also, there are the bunch of animated characters who breathe life into the film with their fantastic forms and their excellent voice-overs.

Our favourites being the spooky Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry), now visible, now gone, the erudite, hookah-smoking Caterpillar (Alan Rickman) and Bayard (Timothy Spall), the limpid-eyed dog who is forced to do stuff he doesn't like, because the wicked queen holds his wife and pups captive.

Indeed, the parade of characters is extremely colourful, as is the canvas, which literally explodes in frame after frame of sheer art. The landscape of Wonderland, designed by Robert Stromberg of Avatar fame, is truly wondrous and leaves you gasping, time and again. The almost surrealistic spiritualism of the White Queen's kingdom stands out in stark contrast to the dark mystery and the gaudy hysteria of the Red Queen's world.

The Mad Hatter's tea party is a sheer delight, as are Alice's encounter with the Cheshire Cat. And above all there is the universal battle of good over evil, which culminates in a dramatic finale where Alice must summon hidden reserves of courage to slay the demonic Jabberwocky.

The evergreen fable comes alive in mesmeric form. Don't miss your tryst with a dapper Johnny Depp, a newage Alice and an over-the-top Tim Burton.

Cast: Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska, Helenha Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway
Genre: Fantasy
Direction: Tim Burton

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