Alice In Wonderland

Alice In Wonderland

**1/2

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

So here we are again, back down the rabbit hole with the ever-resourceful Alice courtesy of another movie studio. Ever wonder why they bother? Perhaps it's the fact that up until the last 50 years there was a dearth of decent young female protagonists in literature, but one thing's for sure, there's no sign of filmmakers getting tired of reinterpreting her picaresque adventures in Wonderland.

This time up, Tim Burton is at the tiller, so you might expect a gothic twist in the tale. What you are unlikely to predict is the sheer mediocrity of this enterprise; there is more that is wandering than wonderful here. In an attempt to give Alice a touch of the Noughties - and presumably to attract that all-important teenage demographic - she is now 19 years old. Plagued her whole life by nightmares of falling, which no doubt account for the fact that actress Mia Wasikowska looks like a sallow, underfed version of Gwyneth Paltrow, she is about to be railroaded into marriage. Dashing off from the imminent proposal, she trips on a tree that appears to be a refugee from Sleepy Hollow and tumbles down the rabbit hole. After the traditional shenanigans with glass-topped table, key, 'drink me' juice and 'eat me' cake she manages to unlock and pass through a small door, but those who have brought her here fear they have "the wrong Alice".


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They must have the right one, you see, because it has been declared that she will become the White Queen's champion, slay the fearsome Jabberwock and thereby vanquish the evil Red Queen. Somehow the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) becomes muddled up in all this, along with Tweedledum and Tweedledee (Matt Lucas doing the vocal honours), The Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry, who else?), the White Rabbit (who is so twitchy and red-eyed he looks like he's an hour late for his fix) and the Dormouse (Barbara Windsor on feisty form).

This sort of quest story - both external and internal - should be as easy as falling off a log for Disney, but Alice's travels are so randomly strung together that all tension is lost. It's as though the script meeting was held at the Mad Hatter's tea party, with all the ideas put in teacups and thrown against the wall - all of them seem to have stuck but in no particular order. The actors don't help either. Anne Hathaway is attempting to be the second coming of Glinda The Good Witch, Crispin Glover plays the creepy character he always plays, only this time hampered by dicey CGI, and Johnny Depp uses the role of the Mad Hatter to practice both his posh English and Glaswegian accents, switching between the two for no discernible reason and with no obvious effect on the laughter quotient.

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Burton has always been known for arresting visuals, but audiences have been spoiled of late, with films like Avatar, A Christmas Carol and Up proving just how immersive 3D can be. Here it is little more than a gimmick. Occasionally a cup is thrown at us but there is nothing to draw us in, to make us feel like a part of the dreamscape. Wonderland? I'm afraid this Alice has gone for a Burton.

Reviewed on: 03 Mar 2010
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Re-imagining of Alice as a teenager.
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Director: Tim Burton

Writer: Linda Woolverton, Lewis Carroll

Starring: Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover, Matt Lucas, Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen, Alan Rickman, Barbara Windsor, Paul Whitehouse, Timothy Spall, Marton Csokas, Tim Pigott-Smith, John Surman

Year: 2010

Runtime: 108 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US

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If you like this, try:

Fantastic Mr. Fox
MirrorMask
Sleepy Hollow