“I love a warm pig belly for my aching feet.”
Director: Tim Burton
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Stephen Fry
Screenplay: Linda Woolverton
Plot: Alice flees her engagement party and thanks to an accident falls down the rabbit hole and returns to Wonderland. There she finds out that about the Red Queens despotic rule over Wonderland and that she might just be the key to returning the White Queen back to power.
Normally I review on a Friday pretty much after I’ve come home from the cinemas, but this movie has got me so confused about how I feel that I’ve had to take a few extra days. There were many things that I liked about this movie and yet the entire overall feeling about it was one of massive disappointment. So I think I’ve finally figured out what I want to say.
Acting wise everyone is pretty solid. It would be easy to have a go at Burton bringing back Depp and Carter but you know what? They are good actors so shut the hell up. Depp in particular was good and actually made me care about the Mad Hatter. Mia Waikowska as Alice gives a very low key performance and I liked it, sure it meant that she was sometimes lost in the background thanks to the weirder elements but this wasn’t really her fault. What she provided was a heroine who was realistic in an unrealistic world. Probably stronger than those portraying the human characters are those who lend their voices to the more shall we say animalistic characters. Stephen Fry is a god amongst us and his Cheshire Cat would have to be my favourite thing about the entire movie. Paul Whitehouse is also awesome and did get many laughs out of the audience I was with thanks to the Scottish March Hare.
Visually we are in the hands of a director who knows his stuff. Wonderland is beautiful and creepy at the same time, the creatures are disturbing, and there are also little touches which add character depth, changing eye colours to denote emotion being one of these details. Probably one of my biggest disappointments is the 3d aspect of the movie. This of course was filmed in 2d and thanks to the success of Avatar was put through the 3d process to make more money. As such it is a waste of time and you can’t feel cheated as the 3d gives us nothing. In fact scenes seem to be put into the movie to lend some 3d moments and they distract more than anything else. This of course isn’t the director’s fault as I’m sure Burton got pressure from the studio but when a ticket goes from $8.50 to $19.00 you can’t help but feel angry at poor 3d.
But now we get to probably the greatest negative about this movie and the blame can only be attributed to Burton. This movie really has no soul. There is a plot but it’s not given the care that Depp’s acting or the visuals gets, and this is where people start saying that Burton just keeps on doing the same thing. My disappointment isn’t that he keeps on using the same people or using the same visual style etc but that he seems to forfeit a deeper emotional connection for these things. Mia Waikowska gives a very nuanced performance and yet she fades away because Tim Burton wants to wow us with quirk, the resolution of Alice just left me cold because there was really no build up to her characters inner resolution. There should have been another ten minutes given to the real world stuff so the audience members could care. Cut away the Mad Hatters origin story; as much as I liked Depp in this it wasn’t needed; put the spotlight on Alice cause that's why we are here. She is the viewers surrogate going through this story and I want to care about the main character.
At the end of the day I liked several characters and dug the visuals, but none of these positives make up for the hollow experience that is in this movie. Tim Burton has a tremendous amount of talent but he really needs to focus on the story he is telling. If you want to see this movie for the visuals then go ahead and steer clear of the 3D as it won’t make any difference. This is movie eye candy, see and discard the wrapping in bin once done.