Alice In Wonderland
Director:
Tim Burton
Stars: Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska
Classification: PG
Rating: ***

 

Tim Burton was born to adapt the surrealist fantasy Alice In Wonderland. The visually inspired filmmaker is known for the twisted imagination and affection for the bizarre needed to translate Lewis Carroll’s classic universe to the screen.

 

From a technical standpoint, his film is a triumph. The eye-candy will captivate anyone watching with those new-fangled 3D glasses. However, there’s little going on to stimulate audiences beyond the visual flourishes. It’s a shame, because Burton is capable of more than just surface style and the source material offers plenty to explore. But when the package is this pretty, a lack of depth is forgivable.

 

Surprisingly, this is not a straight adaptation, but a sequel to Carroll’s original stories. The movie stars Mia Wasikowska as an older Alice verging on adulthood. Frustrated by the suffocating social codes of Victorian society, Alice escapes to Wonderland with no memory of her previous adventures.


She is reintroduced to all of her old friends and must embark on a quest to overthrow the Red Queen. It all amounts to a message about favouring individuality over succumbing to the expectations of others, which is sweet but unnecessary. The world of the film is so exquisitely realized that it’s disappointing to find such a conventional story at the centre.


Still, no one is going to see this movie for complex storytelling and it delivers on plenty of other levels. A cast of comedians and character actors like Alan Rickman and Stephen Fry play all the recognizable Wonderland characters and clearly had a blast with their roles.


Burton regulars Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter take on the Mad Hatter and Red Queen respectively and unsurprisingly steal all or their scenes (even if Depp’s role was unnecessarily expanded to accommodate his fame).


It’s easy to get lost in the stunning visuals and eccentric performances, but hopefully Tim Burton will rediscover his interest in characterization and storytelling soon. As impressive as this film is, he’s capable of more.