Elbow Murderpants Enjoys His Trip To Wonderland

19-year-old Alice returns to the whimsical world she first encountered as a young girl, reuniting with her childhood friends: the White Rabbit, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, the Dormouse, the Caterpillar, the Cheshire Cat, and of course, the Mad Hatter. Alice embarks on a fantastical journey to find her true destiny and end the Red Queen's reign of terror.

Review:When I first saw the trailers for Alice in Wonderland, I thought it was going to be a little too surreal for my overly-symmetrical tastes.

I was also dreading what I thought would be more of Tim Burton’s self-imposed, gothic-styled inaccessibility. Not to mention his, now constant, casting nepotism towards Helena Bonham Carter, and tiring favoritism for working with Johnny Depp.

In fact, I’ve started to wonder if Burton makes films for anyone but himself and his clique.

But Alice in Wonderland wasn’t too surreal, and I couldn’t escape its appeal.

The “under world” this film takes place in is ALMOST as enticing as the Avatar’s Pandora, and nearly as colorful. Characters like the March Hare, the Cheshire Cat, and the Blue Caterpillar really come alive in a combination of well-casted voices and solid CGI.

Though I suspected that the storyline and strange characters would perhaps be too scary for youngsters, I now believe that is not the case. Everything done is done with a comical slyness and a “mad” absurdity that makes the bizarre seem somehow warmly benevolent. Depp’s (perhaps more than just bi-polar) Mad Hatter drops in and out of a Scottish brogue, quoting lines from Jabberwocky, and lends a slightly serious tone that deftly seems to keep the plot vectoring forward in the midst of fantastical chaos.

It’s hard to be overly impressed with the plain Jane pace set by Mia Wasikowska’s interpretation of Alice, but at least you couldn’t accuse her of over-acting. (And to me, overacting is the far greater of two evils.)

There are a handful of bad SFX, usually centered on Crispin Glover’s Knave of Hearts, (Chiefly when he’s on horseback) but, for the most part, the effects are pretty good.

The philosophical messages in the film are good ones, albeit not at all that thinly veiled: Believe in the unbelievable, and do the things YOU think are right, not just what others do.

Though there is much within Alice in Wonderland for adults to enjoy, I think his movie will be a real winner with kids aged nine to 14. (Review by Elbow Murderpants from Bien Agiter!)