BY ASHLEY KOWALEWSKI
What’s it about: Set years after Disney’s animated Alice in Wonderland, an adolescent Alice is on the brink of being betrothed to a man with a poor digestive system, only to realize her entire life is being determined for her. After taking a moment to breathe, she finds herself back down the rabbit hole and into Underland (or Wonderland as she called it when she was still a young girl). When she arrives (although she still thinks she’s dreaming the whole time) she realizes that Wonderland is still being ruled by the tyrannical Red Queen, while her original entourage (the Mad Hatter, Cheshire Cat, March Hare and Tweedledee and Tweedledum) are doubting that she’s the “right” Alice to vanquish the Queen and reclaim Underland.
Who’s in it: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Mia Wasikowska, Anne Hathaway (with voices from Michael Sheen, Alan Rickman, Stephen Fry and Timothy Spall)
When it came out: 2010
How come you haven’t heard of (or just seen) it: If you are a Tim Burton fan (or general Alice in Wonderland fan–from the Disney flick to the novels that started it all), you probably saw this on opening night (dragging your boyfriend and some friends along to wait in line with you… just me?). If you aren’t, this probably flew past you. While there are some big names in this flick, it’s not exactly the typical flick Johnny Depp fans would follow him into. It’s a bit weird (something I particularly love about it) and very Tim Burton-esque, but even though it was the second highest-grossing flick of that year, I don’t recall it being overly popular and it caught some flack for being far removed from the novels (though I maintain you have to take book-to-movie adaptations with a grain of salt).
Why you need to watch it–immediately!
- The trifecta that is Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton–need I say more? Their chemistry on-screen is pure movie magic and is something that I will never tire of seeing
- If you were a fan of the original animated classic, you’ll appreciate the subtle references to the flick worked in by the movie’s writer Linda Woolverton–such as the perfectly timed: “Imbeciles! The garden is planted with white roses when I’ve specifically asked the red.” “You can always paint the roses red.”
- It’s much darker than the original. You get that feeling of growing up alongside Alice. Just as you likely watched the original Disney version when you were a kid, you’re now much older and understanding the dynamics of an oppressive government and having to live up to certain expectations–it’s a different understanding and relationship with Wonderland, and one that Alice is experiencing at the same time. The writing lends itself to this relationship–it’s not little kids meandering their way through a crazy world full of singing and dancing anymore–it’s a young woman on the brink of adulthood trying to find herself, while being torn between worlds: the world of fantasy and the world of expectations and reality
- It’s very visually stunning. While it is very heavily CGI’d, the sweeping shots of Underland/Wonderland are colourful and just beautiful. This version of the Red Queen is also fantastic and an ongoing joke throughout the flick. Even the costume design is so on-point it spurred so many people busting out the Johnny Depp version of the Mad Hatter costume that year at Halloween (this writer’s bf included)
- Gems like this: “You used to be much more… muchier. You’ve lost your muchness.” And: “Sometimes I believe in as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” And this one too: “Have I gone mad?” “I’m afraid so. You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.”