See This: Alice in Wonderland (2010, Tim Burton)



I am recommending Alice in Wonderland, but with reservations. Unfortunately, what's wrong with the film is Alice herself; Mia Wasikowska in the title role is almost the film's undoing. I can't think of an actress more poorly cast.

It doesn't help that Burton decided to go with a "re-imagining" of the classic Lewis Carroll tale, combining elements of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and then making his heroine a sullen 19-year-old girl. Wasikowska looks like Alice, she just doesn't act like Alice. Or act in general, using various frowns to display a range of emotions that never seem to rise above somnambulance.

Alice has forgotten about her former trips to Wonderland and is now being forced into an arranged marriage. When she sees the White Rabbit (voiced by Michael Sheen), she follows him down the rabbit hole back to Wonderland, which is now a bombed out, desolate place called Underland. It's ruled mercilessly by the Red Queen, played by the brilliant, scene-stealing Helena Bonham Carter. With her head blown up three times its normal size, she is both a source of humor and tyranny.

Alice soon meets up with all her old pals: Tweedledee and Tweedledum (Matt Lucas), the Cheshire Cate (Stephen Fry), the hookah smoking Caterpillar (Alan Rickman), Dormouse (Barbara Windsor) and the Mad Hatter, played by Johnny Depp. Using a mix of live action and animation, the computer-generated animals blend perfectly with their human counterparts, but the magic that was once in that accomplishment is missing. Maybe it's because we've seen it done before – and better – in other films.

Mad Hatter and Co. decide that Alice is the only one who can return the power of Underland to the exiled White Queen (a floaty, over the top Anne Hathaway in Baby Jane Hudson make-up) by slaying the fearsome Jabberwocky, a dragon under the control of the Red Queen.

Depp is deliriously demented as the Hatter, and seems to be drawing on Willy Wonka and some of the other crazies he's played. He's taken prisoner by the Red Queen, hoping she can find the whereabouts of Alice and destroy her once and for all. Depp and Bonham Carter's scenes together just about rescue the film as he tries to create millinery suitable for her bulbous head. Crispin Glover prances about as the Knave of Hearts, and seeing the usually deranged Glover playing it straight as cartoon villain is almost depressing.

Meanwhile, Alice keeps telling herself she's in a dream, so she's scared of nothing and wanders from scene to scene looking put-upon or bored. It's not until she's forced into a suit of armor and forced to battle the Jabberwocky that anything verging on range comes through Wasakowski. The epic battle sees the White Queen and the Red Queen's pawns squaring off on a chessboard and, disappointingly, it's second-rate Lord of the Rings and then a little third-rate Wizard of Oz as the White Queen sends Alice home after she's slain the Jabberwocky. And, no, that's not a spoiler.

I guess with Tim Burton at the helm, I was expecting something a little more dark and twisted. It is dark -- as dark as Disney Films would allow it to be -- and I wouldn't recommend it for young kids. But after seeing films like Lord of the Rings and Avatar, the visual punch you've come to expect just isn't there. Yes, there is a 3-D version of Alice, but don't bother. Friday the 13th 3D had better effects.

Go see it for Helena and Johnny. It's worth the price of a matinee.

Comments

christine said…
A wonderful, intelligent review, Collin. Based on your post, I think I'll go see the movie, in spite of Wasakoski's shortcomings.
lissa4evah said…
Thanks Collin! I was wondering how this was going to be. I won't be taking my 10yr. old niece and nephew, per your advice. Hell, who wants to sit with a 10yr. old and 5yr. old when Johnny De-lish-epp is on the big screen anyhoo. Love Helena Bonham Carter, too!
I haven't seen it yet, but I've heard very mixed reviews. I'm surprised to hear your dislike of Mia Wasikowska in the role. I was excited she was in it, because I enjoyed her so much in the HBO series In Treatment. But I haven't seen her as Alice, so I'll have to go see what I think. Thanks for the well-written review.
filmizle said…
I watched this movie so wonderful wonderful Thanks.
Radish King said…
I loved Wasikowska as Alice. I am sick of The Cult Of Disney's early portrayal of sweet as pie Alice which is all of America's version of Alice not Dodgson's at all. And believe it or not most 19 year olds are sullen. I agree that HBC stole every scene she was in and I love seeing Crispin Glover no matter what. I was confused about the Mad Hatter's dance at the end and I don't think the movie needed to be in 3D as it was so beautifully stylized and color saturated. I'm going again tomorrow.
xo
David said…
Good review, Collin. So true: "some of the other crazies he's played." :)

I'm not a Burton or a 3-D movie fan, but maybe i'll rent it later this year.
ferbricon said…
all in all first of all i want to say this movie review was fine and it does really guide any one to see the movie, sure i did saw the movie about few days back in time. this was been quite fascinating to see how the fairy been made into real movie.

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Andrew Hosley said…
No background whatsoever is given, from initial intentions to their invariably sympathetic turns, to understand the motivation driving most of the character arcs...
full izle said…
Great choices of music! Thanks for putting the effort into creating such great soundtracks, I really appreciate it. And look forward to many more movies and soundtracks from you.

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