Sat 8 August 2020
In the Media
Digital Reading
Young Writers in the News
Books & Reading
Goings On
You are here: Home > Young Writers' Hub > Blog > Young arts critics competition winners
Young arts critics competition winners
Read the winning entries to the Guardian's annual competition to find the best young talent in writing about the arts

Overall Winner Film, 14-18s

Alice in Wonderland by Rebecca Grant, 15

Tim Burton has snatched the beautifully eccentric odyssey that we once lovingly knew as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, wrung it dry of anything resembling the endearingly capricious originality of the children's classic, and slung the disgusting dregs into a pretentious, Disneyfied quest movie replete with, frankly, un-special effects.

Burton's insistence that his film was not a re-imagining or sequel to other "Alice movies" made me wonder whether he had actually read the book at all. Nineteen-year-old Alice, played by the apparently tranquilised Mia Wasikowska, spends a disproportionate amount of time at the beginning of the movie prancing around in a tediously twee caricature of Victorian high society. When the dopey antagonist finally wiggles her way into Wonderland, we are ambushed by the White Rabbit, the Dormouse, the Dodo, Tweedledum and Tweedledee all at once, contrary to the charmingly incoherent episodic chronology used by the genius Lewis Carroll. The film is altogether too Alice-centric, ruining the dreamlike detachment that Alice has from the characters in the book.

The sudden appearance of the White Queen caused me to blink behind my 3D glasses and throw up on my popcorn. She was the most unforgivable revision: a sickly sweet, blondified, shallow Disney princess. You may as well stick a car chase in a period drama, she was that incongruous.

Towards the end, Alice fights the Jabberwocky (Burton seems to have economised by borrowing animation from Harry Potter) and goes home having chopped off its head and drunk its blood. And then she goes off to colonise China. I do love a happy ending.

A few members of the all·star cast were inescapably fantastic. Helena Bonham Carter made an excellently preposterous Red Queen, inspired, with her digitally enhanced head and terrifying tyranny, by a toddler; Johnny Depp is a magically manic milliner and Matt Lucas is twice as funny as Tweedledum and Tweedledee. It's just a shame that such great talent has not had the advantage of an equally great story structure.

OK as a Christmas stocking DVD, but only to make up a three for two offer.

For more entries