Thursday, December 7, 2023
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Alice in Wonderland Review

To some extent, I have to accept defeat in my tirades against these Disney classics. They may not be my cup of tea, but for those that watched them as children, they’ll be overwhelmed by nostalgia, too drunk on the whimsy of living their glory days to make a coherent decision on whether or not Alice in Wonderland is of any genuine quality. All the hallmarks of the genre are there, the animation and the musical numbers, loose feeling of adventure and lax responsibility make for an interesting narrative. It’s something only a monster could hate, someone devoid of any optimism, the sort of person who thinks the worst of everything and can’t see the lighter side of life.  

Even my stony heart can admit to enjoying this charming display of Disney animation. By far one of the strongest of the classics, but that’s not saying much. The whimsy and nonsense our titular Alice wishes for comes true, and it is likeable to an extent. A colourful array of characters and settings, far more than I had expected, litter the screen with relative articulation and light-heartedness. Rattling through the story of Alice exploring the world within her mind leads to a host of lovely scenes, none of which are too taxing or overbearing. It surprises me just how little depth there is to this world, but in a way, I do appreciate that. It’s a movie that requires no real attention, just watch the pretty colours and nice animation fly by. 

This lack of story, though, is a detriment to the film. Clearly there is some attempt at telling a story, Alice in Wonderland may be a truly simple premise that we’ve all assimilated into our minds through other mediums outside of film, but shocked at how little content there is in the story department. For characters so fondly remembered and loved, it’s odd that we spend very little time at all with them. Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee feature briefly, the Mad Hatter isn’t all he’s cracked up to be, and the cavalcade of other characters don’t offer up much in the way of timely or memorable moments. It’s a film that has somehow survived on Mandela Effect stylisations, and for those returning to this, you may find it startling just how much nostalgia you’ll need to brush off.  

Animated flourishes are frequent with this one, an immensely creative film that has little in the way of narrative, but an abundance of eye-catching visuals. I can forgive the rather loose, primitive story if the design is strong, and Alice in Wonderland provides certainly solid visuals from the very beginning. A short, sweet feature from Disney, one of their least grating efforts from this golden period, and certainly one I could return to if I had more than a passing acknowledgement of the products Disney wish to create.  

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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