Saturday, 3 April 2010

Film Review: Alice in Wonderland

(Directed by Tim Burton, running time 109 minutes)

Tim Burton is losing his flare... not the most encouraging start to a review. But seriously, what was once a unique take on the fantasy genre has since become, to a degree a studio brand. This post-modern goth has rinsed and repeated to the point of becoming predictable and repetitive. Still don’t know what I mean?

Mia Wasikowska plays a now adult Alice straight after donating a third of her blood, who ends up in over the top fairy tale world of Wonderland after tumbling down a rabbit hole more reminiscent are a vortex induced by magic mushrooms (not that I’m suggesting anything). Short of weird for the sake of weird, we are then introduced to the whole shebang of Wonderland misfits; there’s Barbara Windsor as the twitchy Dormouse, Michael Sheen as the oddly depressed White Rabbit, Stephen Fry as the down right sinister Cheshire Cat and Matt Lucas as Matt Lucas... I mean Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Despite being sidelined as mere sideshows, the manic monsters are easily the highlight of this surreal display, bursting with personality and humor.

Beyond the anthropomorphic parade is the Mad Hatter played by Johnny Depp who I’m starting to think has shacked up with Tim Burton. Don’t get me wrong, Johnny Depp is as delightfully schizophrenic as ever but it’s become mandatory in a Burton production so even though Depp is the star, we already have a good impression of how much twitchy rambling to expect.

But I digress. Alice has apparently been brought back to Wonderland after her first visit as a child to overthrow the Red Queen (played by *sarcastic surprise* Helena Bonham Carter) and return the crown to the White (understatement mind you) Queen (played by a tolerable Anne Hathaway), which can only be done after defeating the “Jabberwocky” in an epic battle... yeah... As you may have already noticed this is not the Alice in Wonderland we know. If anything this is Alice in Wonderland 2 without the first installment. The prime issue I have is while I relish in good story structure, when the credits started to roll, I couldn’t be wonder if the the story would of faired better if it was actually a random secession of surreal events, like the original narrative because at its most obscure the film stands out.

Burton seems to have injected a Christian fable into a children’s fairy tale with the result being more Lord of the Rings than Nightmare Before Christmas in its crazed series of events. When you see the Had Hatter swinging a clamor in a duel with an evil knight, you don’t know what to think and I doubt that’s what Burton wanted. The entire package is what you’d come to expect from the man of white make-up, and for some that’s even a plus, but for me and a good deal of others it’s become repetitive despite trying to be an original twisted style. Turning classic stories on their head is a good concept but vary the style at least! Otherwise we’re going to the Wizard of Oz with a sexually mature Dorothy, monstrous lion, cyborg Tin man and zombie Scarecrow.

Also stars Crispin Glover, Alan Rickman and (briefly) Christopher Lee.


  1. Am I the only one who thought it was almost exactly the same as Narnia?

  2. Which was also trying to be Lord of the Rings.