By Skip Sheffield
That’s my one-word review of Tim Burton’s “
This sequel to Lewis Carroll’s “
Linda Woolverton’s script combines the original, published by the Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dogson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll in 1865, and its sequel, “Through the Looking Glass.” Additional elements come from Carroll’s poetry; especially “Jabberwocky,” which is part of “Looking Glass” but has achieved a separate life of its own.
I had the advantage of knowing more about “Jabberwocky” than most people. We studied it for structure and syntax in graduate school even though the words are nonsense.
But are they? Woolverton’s clever, imaginative script makes use of key words and turns them into actual subjects, objects and creatures.
“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that snatch!”
In this surreal scenario we actually see the deadly Jabberwock, and the Vorpal Sword, the only weapon that can slay the dragon-like beast.
We also see the snarling, drooling, “frumious” Bandersnatch, a furry villain, but one with a sense of loyalty.
The story begins with a recap of a darling 6-year-old Alice Kingsley (Mairi Ella Challen) falling down the rabbit hole and finally concluding all the strange and startling things she encounters were just a dream.
“Am I bonkers?”
“All the best people are bonkers,” he consoles her.
The story shifts 13 years ahead. Dad is dead,
Hamish (Bill Leo). It is the height of the Victorian Age, and
She chafes even more against the thought of marriage to dorky Hamish, who stands to become Lord Astor.
The elaborate party is actually an engagement party, and everyone knows but
The pressure is on.
There is a distinct feminist flair to this modern
Enter the Mad Hatter, played by Johnny Depp in orange fright wig, shabby top hat and bulging green eyes.
Things have gone downhill terribly since
All these characters were in the first
New characters from “Looking Glass” are Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee (Matt Lucas) and Bayard the bloodhound (Timothy Spall).
The tea table is in ruins and the forest is a wasteland ever since the evil Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) has wrested power and the magical Vorpal Sword from her kind sister, the White Queen (Anne Hathaway, looking like a wraith in white).
Through the magic of CG animation, the Red Queen has a normal sized body but an enormous head, with Carter’s eyes and mouth but not much else.
The queen is very sensitive about her appearance, and in deference to her power, her subjects affect deformities too.
It’s all very Tim Burton, and so is the villainous Knave of Hearts (Crispen Glover), the Queen’s chief toady and enforcer.
A conflict between good and evil is inevitable, and the battle between red and white, played on a giant chess board, is a sight to behold.
Purists will not like the contemporary liberties, but “
I think this is Tim Burton’s best work yet, with a lot of help from his talented friends.