Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland

Starring Mia Wasakowska, Johnny Depp, and Helena Bonham Carter
Directed by Tim Burton
Rated PG for fantasy action/violence involving scary images and situations, and for a smoking caterpillar
Appropriate for ages 8+

    Set many years after the events of the first Alice tale, Alice is now twenty and on the verge of being proposed to by a boorish, snobbish Englishman at a party being held in her honor.  When put on the spot, she runs off into the countryside and follows a rabbit down a hole.  Upon entering the new magical dreamworld, she discovers that the inhabitants of this Underland have all been impatiently awaiting her arrival and desperately need her help in defeating the dreaded Red Queen.

    I doubt there are many movie fans out there that weren’t looking forward to this new Burton/Depp teaming and the early indications all showed that it had masterpiece potential written all over it.  Certainly the new Wonderland has a fresh look that is remarkable and bizarre, just as you would expect from a Burton film.  But we saw that in the trailers, commercials, and in half of the magazines and papers we’ve been reading over the last two months.  Where Burton could really win was in the script, and here he didn’t.  The story is straight forward, predictable, and completely disappointing.  Rather than a quirky, fun, innovative Alice, we get Alice goes to Narnia.

    My question is – why didn’t Burton and crew choose to just simply do a Burtonesque remake of the original material?  I just don’t get this new incarnation from Disney screenwriter Linda Woolverton (The Lion King).  It fits the Disney mold, but frankly, I didn’t want to see Burton make a Disney girl power film.  I wanted to see Burton make a film that was merely bankrolled by the mouse house, who would then leave him alone.   This creation is nice to look at but lacks energy, curiosity, or any kind of emotional draw.

    Where the film does impress is in the special effects, especially when viewed in 3D.  They didn’t push the limitations, like Avatar succeeded in doing, but there is eye candy galore to be found on screen.  Also, the closing credit sequence was probably my favorite five minutes of the film, and I’m not being sarcastic.  While the names are posting in the center, there is a frame of vines and flowers growing and blooming progressively off of the screen, all set to Danny Elfman’s beautiful and haunting score.  The look is surreal and one of the most amazing effects I’ve seen in a movie.  C+