Back in ‘Wonderland’

Nicole Fano

In Tim Burton’s revamp of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland,” Alice Kingsley finds herself late for a very important date once again.

The movie opens with 6-year-old Alice, who has a nightmare of falling down a hole and seeing strange creatures. Her father comforts her and she asks if she’s gone mad. His response is the film’s recurring theme: “All the best people are.”

In typical Burton fashion, “Wonderland’s” characters and setting are both unique and trippy. Nineteen-year-old Alice (Mia Wasikowska) finds herself feeling trapped in the world of proper etiquette in 19th century England. Alice attends a garden party where she is expected to accept a marriage proposal from a bore named Hamish. While there, Alice follows an all-too-familiar white rabbit in a waistcoat and falls down a rabbit hole into a world where flowers, animals, and insects speak.

The White Rabbit, Dormouse, and Tweedles Dee and Dum spend the beginning of the film debating whether or not she is the same Alice who traveled down the same rabbit hole 13 years earlier. Alice is taken to a ramshackle tea party where she meets her confidant, the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp). Although Depp’s appearance is fashionably flawless, his performance is familiar, resembling Captain Jack Sparrow at certain points.

The Mad Hatter explains to a confused and annoyed Alice that an intuitive document called the Oraculum predicted that Alice would return to Wonderland to defeat the big-headed Red Queen of Hearts (Helena Bonham Carter) and restore power to the Red Queen’s likeable sister The White Queen (Anne Hathaway). In order to do that Alice must slay the Red Queen’s fearsome champion, the Jabberwocky.

Like most 19-year-old girls who aren’t from New Jersey, Alice claims that she is the nonviolent type and could never defeat such a creature. The Hatter responds to Alice’s excuses by claiming she has “lost her muchness.”

Alice responds to the Hatter’s mind game and accepts the role as the White Queen’s champion. During the battle, Alice lists six impossible things she has encountered since her visit to Wonderland. She also convinces herself she can defeat the Jabberwocky and is victorious.

The White Queen’s army celebrates and the Hatter does an unexpected break dance. After emotional goodbyes, Alice drinks the Jabberwocky’s blood and returns to England a more courageous and outspoken woman, where she becomes an apprentice to a shipping route company and begins a voyage on a ship fittingly titled “Wonder.”

The Burton film paints a unique portrait of Carroll’s Wonderland and its inhabitants as it is meant to serve as a sequel to the original story. The storyline is both original and clever, but in order to fully enjoy the film, you must let go of any previous expectations.