Cast: Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska, Helena Bonham-Carter, Anne Hathaway, Sacha Baron Cohen, Rhys Ifans & voices of Alan Rickman, Michael Sheen, Stephen Fry, Toby Jones
Director: James Bobin
The wonderful characters created by an imaginative mathematicia, photographer and church deacon Charles Lutwidge Dodgson better known as Lewis Carroll return in 3D glory to the widescreen in James Bobin’s lush, visually exciting follow up to Tim Burton’s hit fantasy adaptation of the Oxford-educated Carroll’s surreal story about a seven year old girl and her adventures in whimsical Wonderland.
Burton is a producer this time around, when the adult Alice (Mia Wasikowska) journeys to the Underland by stepping through a looking glass and a door that opens onto Nowhere. At the bottom, her old friends – the White Rabbit, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, Cheshire Cat etc from the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party await: she also makes a new acquaintance, the White Queen (Anne Hathaway) who just happens to be the sister of the Red Queen (Helena Bonham-Carter, solid) who just loves chomping off veggie body parts!
Alice’s second sojourn in Wonderland involves travelling back in time on a mission – she must steal the time-altering Chronosphere, and return to save Hatter who has given up on life. It is a race against Time (personified as half man half machine by Sacha Baron Cohen, scary) who sustains the universe minute by inexorably foreboding minute (the seconds are small metallic clumps of delightful glee!).
Father Time himself is dire and grim; unappealing characteristics shared by the Red Queen and even Hatter. The Red Queen is consumed by a desire for revenge against those whom she considers responsible for her unsightly appearance, the result of a series of unfortunate accidents. With Hatter, a cold, unnerving look is all it takes to communicate to Alice his displeasure with her response to his appeal for help: You are not the Alice I know.
Still, there is a slight romantic frisson in the relationship between Hatter and Alice to whom Hatter’s deathly-white hue is no hindrance at all, where lesser females might have shied away. This disdain for appearances is entirely in consonance with her adventurous streak, inherited no doubt from her late father whose ship she sails the seven seas.
We first see her, at the helm of her father’s boat, “Wonder” outmaneuvering a trio of pirate ships in the storm tossed Straits of Malacca which connect the Indian Ocean to the Pacific and the South China sea; before returning to London much in the manner of the Polish seafarer-author Joseph Conrad who would sail to Bombay where he lived in what is now the HQ of the Director General of Police off the Gateway of India. Maybe, just maybe, Alice will come to Bombay, now Mumbai in the next adventure? Hope springs eternal… But time and tide waits for no man and this film encourages the audience to accept that you can’t change the past, but only, hopefully, learn from it.