With the defeat of her sister, the Red Queen now has the Vorpal Blade, the only sword that can kill the Jabberwocky, and has the deadly Bandersnatch guarding it. If Alice is to defeat the Jabberwocky she is going to need help. So our intrepid young heroine meets the Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry), who takes her to a loopy band of misfit warriors having tea in the middle of the woods. The Dormouse, the March Hare and the Mad Hatter are all sworn enemies of the Red Queen and friends of Alice and will do what is necessary to assist her in her journey.
I’ve got to address Depp’s performance as the Hatter. His ability to go from a sane, focus-driven Scotsman to an over-the-top, off his rocker hatter is fantastic. He steals every scene he is in including the final massive battle scene where he shows up wearing a kilt and brandishing a giant claymore. I’ve never thought of the Mad Hatter as a fighting type hero character but I certainly do now.
While assisting Alice, the Hatter gets captured by the Red Queen and her right hand man Stayne (Crispin Glover). I could be wrong but I think Burton may have used some stop-motion animation for Stayne’s body and imposed his regular sized head on it. The effect is beyond creepy to look at. Alice decides to help free her friend from the Red Queen’s castle, steal back the Vorpal Blade and escape to the White Queen’s new fortress. She manages all but the freeing of the Hatter, which I won’t spoil for you as far as how it happens.
All this leads up to the massive chess piece guards versus playing card guards with everyone getting in on the fighting action. Does Alice defeat the Jabberwocky? Will the Red Queen’s reign come to an end? Will Alice accept Hamish’s marriage proposal? You’ll need to watch the film to get the answer to those questions.
So after all that – was it any good?
A few things did bother me about the film. First, Danny Elfman’s score, while extremely dark and beautiful, felt rehashed. I could easily associate main parts of the soundtrack with other films he has scored and none of the songs particularly stuck out in my mind.
Secondly, anyone paying the extra money to watch Alice in Wonderland in 3D hoping to have a similar 3D experience as they did with Avatar will be sorely disappointed. While I didn’t love Avatar, I did find myself appreciating what Cameron had done with the finely planned out 3D filming process – as opposed to the path Burton choose of converting the film to 3D in post-production. There is a big difference in how it is used, and in my opinion tight frame, close-up head shots should never be shot in 3D. However, the large wide frame scenery shots look great.
Ultimately, the 3D fails to impress in Alice in Wonderland and certain 3D parts of the film, such as Alice falling down the rabbit hole, are completely unwatchable. The digital effects guys throw so much debris towards the audience and Burton films the scene so close up that everything blurs together in a mass of unintelligible imagery. I hope that other studios are taking note of this and realize that if they must make a 3D film, then it needs to be done during the shooting process and not done as an afterthought.
As a quick side note – during the Hatter’s Futterwacken Dance, I quickly recognized the limber leg skills of David “Elsewhere” Bernal. A young guy that became an internet phenomenon several years ago before the word “viral” was even associated with You Tube. You can check out his famous video HERE.
Overall, the story for Alice in Wonderland was great, and although it may be a tad too dark and Burton-esque for children under 9, it’s sure to impress fans of the fairytale genre. Alice in Wonderland the 3D experience, however, is not worth the extra money. If you want to go see this, I recommend you watch the regular old 2D version.