Monday Movie: Alice In Wonderland by @destroytheearth

Burton's Alice In Wonderland arrived with very little ceremony, only whispers from cinemati of "Oooh, Burton doing Wonderland, that'll be good". Unfortunate then, that this is not Alice In Wonderland; it is Narnia, or rather, The Cheshire Cat, The Red Queen and The Rabbit Hole.

With these effects and this cast, Burton could have made a straight remake of Lewis Carroll's book that might have been the best film of the year, instead he has given us a sequel to/re-imagining of Wonderland, with a dash of its follow-up Through The Looking Glass, that has more in common with Lord Of The Rings than the story we all wanted.

Burton introduces us to an adult Alice, traumatised by recurring dreams of a Wonderland she doesn't fully remember. Running from an unwanted proposal, she is weighleighed by the White Rabbit and brought back to Wonderland to find a mystic sword and slay the Red Queen's Jabberwocky. If Burton wanted to do a sword and sorcery epic, why not do one, rather than twisting Alice into something unrecognisable?

Burton says he never liked the stories, and wanted to give them an emotional core that he had felt they were missing. The characters of the book are supposed to be disturbing and slightly threatening to Alice and, turned into an assortment of misfit allies ala Wizard Of Oz, as they are here, they lose their appeal.

The curiously-Anglophile cast struggle to find their feet amidst such a confused twist in the tale: Johnny Depp's Mad Hatter is another Willy Wonka; full of random accents and odd ticks, but very little personality; making it even stranger that Burton tries to carry him off as Alice's love interest. Bonham-Carter's Red Queen slips in and out of her trademark comic lisp and Ann Hathaway oscillates between tongue-in-cheek weird and just plain irritating as her White counterpart. Even Alan Rickman and Michael Sheen struggle to add their trademark magic.

There are a few plus sides: Matt Lucas pulls off both Tweedledee and Tweedledum with aplomb, but is still outshone by an absolutely-perfect Stephen Fry as the Cheshire Cat, a joy to watch. Elsewhere, Paul Whitehouse makes for a hilarious March Hare, but is criminally underused. The biggest surprise, however, is newcomer Mia Wasikowska, who manages to steal many scenes with some fantastically-English wit, despite being Australian.

There's much here to admire, the film just falls flat due to some very odd choices. Burton needs to go back to his own stories and stop trying to "improve" on classic films; his instincts for it are obviously way off.

1 comment:

  1. shame about how it kind of fell flat, but I still really enjoyed the way Burton adapted it into his own style. I was reading on infloox about where he derives influences from and fount it really inspirational.