Customer Review

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indeed, a masterpiece of imagination and much more!, 3 Aug. 2006
This review is from: Alice In Wonderland [DVD] [2000] (DVD)
My, my, my. Whenever someone asks me what my favorite movies are, I always hesitate to make a full list, because it constantly seems to change as I watch and discover new films, but for years now, Alice in Wonderland (1999) has always remained on top as my favorite film of all time. Whatever could be so especial about yet another movie version of the beloved, classic Lewis Carroll masterpiece novel? Well, that can simply be answered by what was a marvelous combination of an all-star cast, a smooth and appealing flow of wonderful storytelling, soft yet intelligent elements of classic humor, charm and amazing visuals and special effects.

This amazingly colorful film is not your classic re-telling of the story, in this film, there's more to the plot than a simple ride through the timeless world of Wonderland, this time around, there are lessons to be learned and a goal to achieve. The story begins when Alice of a high class victorian family struggles when expected to publicly perform the song "Cherry Ripe" in front of odd strangers. Alice decides to run away until everyone is gone and she can safely return to her home, it is then that Alice is surprised by the appearance of a strange looking white rabbit. Like in all other versions of this tale, Alice's cuorisity will not let her sit still, instead she decides to follow the white rabbit into its rabbit hole and what a hole it was! Alice falls and falls in what seems like an endless vertical tunnel until she arrives in the mysterious Wonderland. From this point until the end of the journey, Alice meets all kinds of interesting characters, all of them with the intention to teach Alice to be brave, to face her troubles and that performing is something to have fun doing, not dread.

One of the most amazing thing about this film is the fact that every character is played by an amazing actor or actress, there are no dull performances therefore no dull characters. Every one here is a filled with personality and humor and I can guarrantee none of them is bound to let their screentime go to waste or go by as unmemorable. The young Tina Majorino (Waterworld, 1995) may not have had many screen appearances prior to this one, but she sure didn't let anyone down, she's simply perfect as Alice and I couldn't have thought of anyone capable of taking her place and leaving the film as great as it was. Sure, you may argue with me and say that Alice's character is unlikeable and cold, but you put yourself in her shoes, anyone would be sure to be this way if surrounded by so much rudeness and insanity. I can't think of any version of this tale that did not feature a somewhat short-tempered Alice. Moving on, Miranda Richardson (Sleepy Hollow, 1999) sure was memorable as the whiny and screechy Queen of Hearts and has surely outshined any other Queen prior or after her. Ben Kingsley (Schindler's List, 1993) plays the role of the wise caterpiller in what was one of the most visually pleasant scenes in the entire film. Whoopi Goldberg (Ghost, 1990), well her face was added onto the odd Cheshire Cat and allowed some of the best comic relief available, Martin Short (Mars Attacks!, 1996) is splendid as the Mad Hatter and George Wendt and Robbie Coltrane are perfect as the Tweedledee and Tweedledum duo. A wonderful musical performance is given by Gene Wilder as the Mock Turtle and Peter Ustinov's voice and fantastic acting talent were given to the character of the Walrus. Other vivid performances were given by Christopher Lloyd as the White Knight, Ken Dodd as Mr. Mouse, Simon Russell Beale as the King of Hearts, Elizabeth Spriggs as the Dutchess and Pete Postlethwaite as the Carpenter.

Alice in Wonderland (1999) is so visually wonderful it is hard to believe the producers aimed as a television production rather than a full-blown theatrical musical. Still, for a TV movie, Alice in Wonderland, in my opinion, surpasses all standards. The film is filled with glorious colors, breathtaking and realistic indoor/outdoor sets and state-of-the art special effects. The film is amazingly detailed with many out-of-center gags and many different things a viewer will miss if the film is only viewed once. The only thing that concerned me was the white rabbit, he was such an obvious animatronic I wasn't sure if it had been purposely made this way for appeal or was just unintentional. Other than that, each of the scenes and sceneries did not stop amazing me after two hours of splendid viewing.

Hallmark's Alice in Wonderland is such a long movie, you can't help but feel a little sad when the whole thing is over, that's why this is the only version of Alice that has ever had me almost crying by the time the end was reached. The scene in which the giant apple falls on the King's trial court and everything collapses leading Alice to waking up always gets me teary eyed and is probably my favorite scene in the entire film. I was indeed sad when the film reached its finale because I had grown so fond of all of the characters for as I said before, not one of them felt flat or unappealing. Something important I forgot to mention was the lovely soundtrack by Richard Hartley which deliciously caresses each one of the many different scenes. The soundtrack alone was another winner on its own.

It is sad that so many people have thought of this film as atrocious, perhaps many of them failed to find its true heart and beauty. I myself cannot see a moment in which Alice in Wonderland (1999) will ever stop being my favorite film of all time. For no other film has ever given me such a sense of imagination and peace. Films like this are no longer appreciated or even made nowadays which is a true shame. I'll recommend this film to anyone who is willing to see a beautiful version of this beloved classic. Possibly, the greatest adaptation to have ever been produced. Ten out of ten stars.
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