Alice in Wonderland

Directed by Tim Burton

Starring Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover and Mia Wasikawska

Ah, to fall down the rabbit hole, not once, but twice. Such is Alice’s fate, first when she was a child, a fantasy adventure that her adventurer father attributed to bad dreams. This time round, Alice is a grown-up 19, put on the spot when Lord Ascot asks for her hand in marriage. She’s distracted by none other than the White Rabbit and, along with her growing skepticism of the company she’s keeping, runs away after her lucky-footed friend.�Down she goes, in a tumbling scene that nearly rivals Gandalf’s descent into the mountain while battling the Balrog that opens The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, but here Alice must battle biting pianos, flying household objects, snaking tree roots and more.

The tale starts out in a familiar way, with Alice’s size and shape changing as she eats this and drinks that and then, here’s Johnny. Depp is mesmerizing as the Mad Hatter. He leaves no doubt that this Hatter is indeed mad, suffering from a dual personality that swings between English milliner dandy and Scottish braveheart warrior. The Red Queen (Carter) has damaged the Hatter’s mind, you see, with her cruelty and the ruin of her sister, the White Queen (Hathaway) and her idyllic kingdom. Alice must face her destiny, to defeat the evil Queen — and her own demons: marriage to man she doesn’t love, the loss of her beloved father at a young age, and taking to the world on her own. Crispin Glover is wickedly wonderful and his twisted turn as henchman plays well off the spoiled Red Queen (Carter), and Burton has combined the traditional 3-D trick of things jumping off screen with the more modern, immersive technology to full effect. He’s also given a wink to the Wizard of Oz, with characters in the real and the “under” world a reflection of themselves. Through the looking glass, indeed.
— Vivian Vassos