By Aaron Fenn
Pop quiz: What is possibly the only film in movie history to
include a smoking caterpillar on its list of reasons for being
The answer is Tim Burton’s latest film, “Alice in
The film centers on Alice, played by fresh face Mia
Alice is 19 years old, who has spent her whole life dreaming of
a place where dodo birds chase her around, blue caterpillars crawl
and a purple evaoprating cat.
She’s been having these “dreams” for the past 13 years and
wonders aloud to her mother if it’s “normal.”
The answer is no.
After a dweeby-looking man proposes to Alice, she leaves him to
chase a white rabbit wearing a waistcoat down the rabbit hole.
Once in Wonderland, Alice meets a plethora of interesting
There’s the Mad Hatter, played in an almost psychotically
brilliant fashion by the great Johnny Depp; the Red Queen, played
by Burton’s real life fiance, Helena Bonham Carter; the White
Queen, played by Academy Award nominee Anne Hathaway; two short,
chubby twins, Tweedledee and Tweedledu; and many more outlandish
This definitely isn’t the same “Alice in Wonderland.”
Burton spends most of his time filling up the screen with
gorgeous eye-candy, striking visuals and a wonderful colorful
In addition to the feast for the eyes, the film’s two biggest
strengths are found in Depp and Bonham Carter.
Depp is almost always superb in any role he’s given, and his
portrayal of the Mad Hatter is no exception.
In one minute, Depp’s speaking with a slight lisp and an
infectious grin, to a Scottish accent and acting like Jack Sparrow
on hallucinogens. Depp steals the show in almost every scene he’s
in which unfortunately, makes scenes without him seem rather dull
Bonham Carter is also fantastic as the villainous Red Queen with
a head three times larger than normal. Whether she’s using a warm
pig belly to aid her aching feet or shouting “off with his head!”
at the top of her lungs, Bonham Carter seems to be so good at being
The problem with “Alice in Wonderland” is that Burton forgot to
give his audience a reason to care about almost anything that goes
on in the picture.
Yes, it all looks fantastic, but there is hardly any interesting
plot or character developments to support the visuals on
The film moves along at a fine pace but once it reaches the all
too familiar “showdown” of a climax, everything feels very “been
there, done that, which is almost unheard of in a Burton film.
It’s strange that in “Alice in Wonderland,” a film about a
girl’s bizarre and confounding journey, the movie itself may have
viewers asking themselves questions they may find puzzling.
Why is Anne Hathaway playing the White Queen as if this were a
sketch on SNL?
Are Johnny Depp’s CGI dance moves actually funny?
Is it logical to explain how England ended up starting trade
with the East in a film that has something called a Jabberwock?
Maybe you could provide the answers to these questions.
Until then, I’ll just be asleep, dreaming of my own personal
Wonderland, where movies can provide amazing visuals with an
incredible and engaging story as well.
Final rating: 2 out of 4 stars
Reach Aaron Fenn at: email@example.com
Alice returns to Wonderland
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