Review of 'Alice in Wonderland'

alice_in_wonderland.jpg This is the much-anticipated film from Tim Burton. Shame it is such a disappointment. I want to tell you that it was absolutely fantastic, that Johnny Depp jumped out of the screen as the Mad Hatter, that the film was a rollicking-good ride…I want to do so, but I cannot.

Alice is all grown-up as a part of a prim and proper family that has fallen on hard times. She is being pressured to marry a rich snob…She needs to figure out what she wants for herself. Cue the white rabbit and a fall down a rabbit hole and a return (?) to Wonderland. Alice quickly learns that everyone expects her to slay the Jabberwocky (suitably scary creature). What will she do?

The effects are amazing with Wonderland brought vividly to life – The Cheshire cat is particularly amazing (and amusing). An incredible visual spectacle that disappoints, unfortunately with the performances of the actors. Johnny Depp is woefully under-developed as the mad hatter in what could have been a stand-out role – He resorts to exposition with little chance to show what his manic side. Mia Wasikowska as Alice barely cracks a smile throughout and inspires little affection from the audience. Most of the time she spends running away from various creatures or the Red Queen. Speaking of which, Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen is really the stand-out performance as she gets the best lines but, unfortunately, these are few and far between. Disappointment again comes to the fore with Anne Hathaway as the White Queen who spends most of her time being “goody-goody” with her arms, for some reason, in the air. Unfortunately though this could be comedy gold it is played way too seriously with little heart or soul…If I am sounding like I am being pretty hard on the talent well this is only because each of these actors have such talent and they are capable of so much more so it is depressing to see them so under-used with this film.

The story is quite predictable – A straightforward “coming of age”, will-she-or-won't-she, journey. Most of the time it appears as though the story introduces characters from the original Alice in Wonderland just to get them on the screen rather than to forward the narrative (yes, I am talking about you Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb).

We saw the film in 3-D but this is a bit of a disappointment as it was not a native 3-D production so it is 3-D of the most basic type (quite “plane”, literally, looking - flat layers coming out of the screen). See it on a big screen, but don't worry about seeing it in 3-D.

One other positive thing about this film was the music which is quite majestic at times (the end credits, for some reason, standing out in my memory).

An enjoyable romp, but, ultimately, disappointing. It could have been very, very different…

Rating: “Average, but who wants to be average?”

Review Date: 2010-03-20

Directed by: Tim Burton

Studio: Walt Disney Pictures

Year: 2010

Length: 108 minutes

Genre: Fantasy

Other reviewed films by Tim Burton:

Other reviewed films by Tim Burton and Mike Johnson: