March 5, 2010 Alice In Wonderland
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures Rating: PG for fantasy action/violence involving scary images and situations, and for a smoking caterpillar.
Don't let the title fool you. This is not the "Alice in Wonderland" you are probably familiar with.
Instead, it's sort of a sequel.
Set 13 years after 6-year old Alice visited a brand new world, this story stars Mia Wasikowska as a 19-year old heroine.
Asked for her hand in marriage by a man she doesn't love, Alice leaves the surprise engagement party to collect herself. Running through the woods after a small rabbit wearing a waistcoat she comes across a large hole. And just like that, she finds herself once again in Wonderland.
However, Alice doesn't remember her previous adventures. And many of the Wonderland residents aren't so sure she's the right Alice. That doesn't include the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) who has no doubt that the "real" Alice has returned.
Alice finds out she has been summoned back to Wonderland to deal with the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter). She rules Wonderland with an iron fist.
Forced to visit the Red Queen's castle to try to save a captured Mad Hatter, Alice comes face to face with the tyrant.
Avoiding a messy death which entails losing her head, Alice travels to meet the White Queen (Anne Hathaway) and is told that she is the champion they have all been waiting for. A battle to the death with the Jabberwocky awaits.
There are many things to like about this movie. Director Tim Burton certainly has a unique way of presenting his often twisted vision and this is no exception. Wonderland is a weird and wacky place filled with memorable characters.
But the script...and a couple of key performances...are lacking.
There isn't much substance to the story, and you will either love or be annoyed by Depp. His makeup and costume are over the top and I didn't really like the Hatter's voice.
The portrayal of Alice is another weak spot. Wasikowska's performance is flat. At times she looks uninterested in the whole affair.
On the plus side, there is some great voice work here. My favorite is Stephen Fry's Cheshire Cat. He steals every scene he's in.
But whether you call it Wonderland, or Underland as it's referred to in the film, this tale just doesn't have the magic and the zing that I was expecting.
On my rating scale, "Alice In Wonderland" earns a DOUBLE. The spectacular visuals aren't enough to save a lackluster story.
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