Rating: 2 out of 5
At one point in the movie, Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter notices something off about the grown up Alice (Mia Wasikowska), a certain indescribable spark that’s gone missing inside her. The Mad Hatter exclaims, “You were much more... muchier... you've lost your muchness."
That one enigmatic line aptly describes how I feel about Tim Burton’s latest goth-tinged escapade with long-time collaborators Depp and Helene Bonham Carter (The Red Queen).
So much has been made about Burton’s affinity with the aberrant that he’s become the go-to-guy for projects that require a fantastical eccentricity. Sometimes he gets things just peculiarly perfect like Beetle Juice or Edward Scissorhands. On the flip side, sometimes stuff like Planet of the Apes (Wahlberg edition) happens.
This updated take on Alice in Wonderland sees a bigger (age induced, not cake-induced) 19-year-old Alice plunging down the rabbit-hole into the pastel-hued Wonderland once again. Convinced that her previous experience there was a dream, this Alice no longer recalls her old alternately ‘bonkers’ or anthropomorphic friends.
The residents of the recently ramshackle Wonderland need Alice to overthrow The Red Queen, restore The White Queen (an albino Anne Hathaway) to her throne and restore order to the land; something that an older Alice is quite reluctant to do.
The story arc is essentially a coming of age parable, involving Alice rediscovering herself and her path in life. There is nothing wrong with this but one can help but point out that the point of Alice in Wonderland is not to have a point! A traditional three act structure, while palatable to the masses, is a huge slap in the face to what Carroll’s books intended.
Why Burton (of all people) decided to turn a beautifully nonsensical, paradisiacal dream into a conventionally bland tale where the hero and her friends need to band together to slay a giant monster is beyond me.
Alice in Wonderland isn’t a terrible movie; it is indeed filled with whimsy, sterling performances and impressive CG. The problem is that it could have been so much more. The limits to how dark or strange or funny an Alice movie can be is only bound by imagination, or what I can only assume to be studio shackles in this instance.
The movie was shot in 2D but subsequently transferred to 3D, making the 3D effects somewhat pedestrian and unnecessary. Seriously, just watch it without the clunky glasses, you aren’t missing anything.
Depp plays the mad loon once again, a performance he could do in his sleep. The real highlights are Bonham Carter and Hathaway as the hilariously bickering Queens. I do have to mention that I adored the Cheshire Cat, just because I love Stephen Fry’s voice.
Alice in Wonderland is a serviceable effort, there’s just no wonder in it. Like the hookah-smoking caterpillar decries, this version is “almost Alice,” but not quite.
About Hidzir Junaini
Hidzir Junaini, aka inSing.com's Movie Lover, is 23-years-old and a wealthy playboy billionaire by day and a caped crusader by night. Only one of those is true. He’s actually a freelance writer, blogger, full-time film buff and some-time socially awkward nerd. He also writes about music, restaurants and nightlife for Metrowize Asia.
Hidzir is the winner of the inaugural inSing Movie Lover contest that garnered over 1,000 participants. The Movie Lover contest is a search for a candidate who possesses outstanding passion for movies and a talent for writing engaging movie reviews.