No gaming, because I went to see Alice in Wonderland last night. It was “regional premiere”, which meant our names were checked on a clipboard before we were let in and before the film they showed live footage of everyone arriving at the actual premiere in London. Lots of shots of Johnny Depp spending about two hours signing things for every single person who’d turned up, ladies in fancy dresses getting very, very wet, people shaking Prince Charles’s hand. That sort of thing. The interviewer (Alex Zane? I dunno) did a decent job, but got utterly flummoxed every time one of the British comic actors was actually witty and didn’t give a normal, Hollywood answer. It was interesting at times, dull as all fuck at others, but definitely helped make it feel like more of an occasion than just another movie screening.

Anyway, after over an hour of that, it was time for…

DISNEY presents Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland


Johnny Depp… as Willy Wonka, if Willy Wonka hadn’t been Michael Jackson
Mia Somethingorother… as a winsome young lady Alice who discovers her inner fortitude
Crispin Glover… who doesn’t dance, the bastard
Helena Bonham-Carter… with a big head
Anne Hathaway… as Nigella Lawson
Matt Lucas… as two Matt Lucases
Stephen Fry… who does actual voice acting and doesn’t just read his lines
Paul Whitehouse… who against all my expectations, still does know how to be damn funny
Alan Rickman… who nearly steals the movie, just by doing what he does best
Christopher Lee… who actually steals the movie with just two lines


Babs Mitchell-Windsor… playing a character her actual, real size

Get outta my tea party!

I can see why the they’ve not really wanted to call the film a proper sequel. It is that, being the story of a nineteen year old Alice who returns to barely-remembered Wonderland, but it also lifts dialogue and scenes from the original books. The story is your standard journey, emotionally, but all set in a very Tim Burton Wonderland.

Which, of course, looks bloody astounding. Wonderland is an amazing place, often colourful, but equally often ravaged and desolate. It’s a treat for the eyes and the imagination and design shines through the technology. (It’s very, very good, but strange things happen if you look somewhere the 3D doesn’t want you to look and there’s the odd moment of strangely stiff animation, especially when human(-like) characters are completely CGI-ed up.)

Unexpectedly, it sometimes feels like one of the Narnia films (though makes those movies look like accountant-led spreadsheets that have been printed out on toilet paper and left out in the rain), but mainly it’s exactly what you’d expect from Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. It’s a great big treat of a movie, to be sure. Given that it’s Tim Burton working with Disney, it’s often gruesome and scary, but not too much. It makes you laugh at times, it pins you to the back of your seat at others, it gets you leaning forward trying to drink in every detail of the place, but it’s not ever actually surprising. You know what’s up, you know where things are going and you’re never shocked. (Maybe once, in a quiet, horrible scene that stands out, even amongst the rest.) Even if you’ve not seen a single still photo or second of footage, if you know Wonderland and you know Tim Burton, you can picture it yourself effortlessly.

So much of it is still in my head this morning, but it’s all visual. There’s no heartache or sense of triumph that lingers after a great story. Funny as it is, there’s only one line I’m ever likely to quote (a single word). I just have these amazing images left in my brain. In that sense, then, it’s appropriately dream-like.

I doubt I’ll go back and watch it again at the cinema, but I’m most definitely getting the Blu-Ray when it comes out next week, or whenever Disney decided they should bring it out.

If it feels like I’ve damned it with faint praise, I don’t intend to. It’s all pretty wonderful for the two hours it takes to speed past you, but I just want to make it clear – nothing that goes into your ears or your heart ever quite matches what goes into your eyes.