Alice in Wonderland: Review and Costume Ideas

Tim Burton’s newest film, his interpretation of the Lewis Carroll classic, Alice in Wonderland, opened to record numbers at the box office this weekend, pulling in $41 million since Friday. Pretty impressive, considering critics have panned the flick.

Having seen it myself, the film certainly dispells the bad rap that critics have given it. I will fully admit that I’m a sucker for anything Tim Burton does (with the exception of the unforgivable Planet of the Apes remake), so bear in mind the review may be a bit biased. That said, while Alice in Wonderland isn’t my favorite Burton film by a longshot, it’s still a very good, very enjoyable film that adults and children can both enjoy. It’s not overly long and the scenery and CGI renderings of the fantastical world of Wonderland (or “Underland” as we learn it’s properly called) are beautiful to look at. The characters’ costumes also help to create the characters and striking visual images.

Fortunately, unlike the slew of remakes that seem to be assaulting the box office with regularity lately, Burton’s vision of Wonderland is somewhat different than the animated Disney version or any other imagining of the film. This time around, Alice is no longer a precocious little girl. Instead, she’s a 19-year old young woman who has grown up, despising the Victorian social traditions of the English culture she’s grown up in. Faced with having to marry an uptight nobleman suitor, she escapes and falls down a rabbit hole, back to the Wonderland she thought only existed in her childhood dreams. She soon realizes that the fantastical creatures and persons she met there are very real.

There are a few gripes with the film, however. The visuals were great, but I wish some of the characters were better fleshed out. Each of the characters were intriguing, but only snippets of their backstories and histories with one another were alluded to in the film. It was all very fast paced with Alice being the focal point that many of the supporting characters were glossed over with the exception of their relationship to her.

Among the characters that could have been given more explanation were the Mad Hatter, the White Queen, and the Knave of Hearts. Johnny Depp was top notch (as always), but seemed somewhat wasted as the Mad Hatter. There was no real explanation as to why he frequently broke into a Scottish accent. By the end of the film, the Hatter had gotten rid of his pants and took to wearing a kilt with his ensemble, looking like Braveheart went on an acid trip and then broke into RuPaul’s makeup kit. (Seriously.)

The White Queen was an interesting character, but one of the major ones that could have used more backstory. Anne Hathaway played the Queen as an airy, slightly demented ballerina — flitting about with graceful gestures that merited a pair of toe shoes. Actually, come to think of it, the look of the character of the White Queen and Hathaway’s movements reminded me of Perri Lister (rocker Billy Idol’s ex-girlfriend), who was the ballerina in Idol’s “White Wedding” video in the ’80s… Hmmmm… Wonder if that was what Tim Burton or Anne Hathaway had in mind when creating the character?

Crispin Glover was the unsung hero of the flick as the creepy Knave of Hearts who has a sort of “thing” going on with the Red Queen. Not much was revealed about the character’s history or how he came to have such a close relationship to the Red Queen, but Glover’s portrayal of the character of Ilosovich Stayne left the audience curious for more. Glover’s Stane came across as very menacing, but in that creepy, weasely sort of way rather than by using brute force.

Helena Bonham Carter was very good in the role of the Red Queen, but it was her standard crazy, evil villainess role. (Which I happen to love her in, though.)

Little Britain’s Matt Lucas made an impressive big screen debut as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. You could see little bits of his myriad of Little Britain characters coming through in the role!There were a few nice little vocal cameos by Christopher Lee (who had about 3 lines as the Jabberwocky) and Alan Rickman as the hookah-puffing caterpillar.

I’m curious to see the official Disney costumes that will be released for the Alice in Wonderland film. So many of the costumes in the film (particularly Alice’s multiple wardrobe changes) were gorgeous and could be completely wearable and comfortable as costumes. (I suppose it’s too much to ask for a Hot Topic couture line inspired by the film, eh?)

Til then, check out some of the existing Alice in Wonderland costumes. The Mad Hatter costume is already proving to be very popular in terms of search and sales as of late. To tide you over until official costumes come out, get some ideas as to how to do makeup for the Red Queen or how to put together your very own White Queen costume!

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