A nice Saturday night out to the cinema with my fiancée. That was the plan. Unfortunately, as the saying goes, a plan never survives first contact with the enemy. Having paid extra to see the 3D version of Alice in Wonderland we were told to turn up early to ensure we could get seats together. This set my mind racing. Surely getting seats together should not be such a hardship. When I looked at my ticket I saw the dreaded GA (General Allocation). What that meant was that the seats were not allocated and that there would be a rush for seats when the door opened.
What this effectively did was to cause a queue, which lined the length of the cinema, and forced punters to wait in line standing for up to an hour before the performance. This could have been avoided if the management of the cinema (my Gentlemanly values prevent me from naming the venue) had applied a modicum of common sense, not to mention the technology they already possess, to allocate seat numbers as the tickets were sold, thus removing the requirement to queue needlessly, safe in the knowledge that your seat would be vacant when you arrived at the showing on time.
Furthermore, the already frustrating and uncomfortable wait was made near unbearable by the idiocy and rudeness of a particularly loud mouthed buffoon who decided that the best way to pass the time, as we all waited for the doors to open, was to proclaim in his loudest voice how much his legs hurt, what a great football game he had seen that afternoon, why he was glad he had only had four pints of beer that afternoon and what he thought of the concept of 3D movies amongst other inane ramblings. He also laughed at his own (unfunny) jokes. Rant over.
In typical Tim Burton style, Disney’s Alice in Wonderland (3D) dips its toe into borderline madness. But that’s to be expected from a film based on the famous Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll. And “based” is the correct term. Anyone who has read the classic will recognise the characters and the settings, but the story itself, whilst anchored in the book, diverges and follows its own path. The more astute viewer may notice that Wonderland is a darker place than you might think, and that some of the famous scenes, The Mad Hatter’s tea party for instance, have a more solemn and painful undertone.
Initially you may chalk this up to the film having been directed by Tim Burton, whose mantra is dark and disturbing, but that’s not the only reason for the shift in mood. The story unfolds to reveal that Wonderland, which is actually called Underland, has fallen under the dominion of the Red Queen (from Alice Through the Looking Glass and not to be mistaken with the Queen of Hearts) who has stolen the crown from her sister, The White Queen. The array of familiar characters are searching for “the right Alice” who is prophesised to kill the Jaberwocky (a creature that again features in Through the Looking Glass and not in Wonderland) and restore The White Queen to the throne of Underland.
A pedantic literary comparison aside, the film itself is visually stunning. The 3D option fills the frame and the wonderful colours and effects make it so that sometimes you forget to blink. Burton’s regular troop of Johnny Depp (who steals the show) and Helena Bonham Carter are superbly supported by Anne Hathaway, Alan Rickman, Mat Lucas and Stephen Fry to name but a few. With a compelling pace and an engaging plot, characters you care about and laughs abound (especially from The March Hare), Alice in Wonderland is a wonderful pass time that will see you leaving the cinema with a smile on your face. Although a Disney production, I would hesitate to show the film to younger children as, although the violence is cartoon, the dark setting and irregular jumps may be too much for a very young viewer. Overall, Alice is another showpiece for the emerging 3D technology to demonstrate exactly what cinema can be.