Review: Alice in Wonderland (2010)

(via Wikipedia)
Year: 2010

Director: Tim Burton

Writer: Linda Woolverton

Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover, Matt Lucas, Marton Csokas, Lindsay Duncan, Jemma Powell, Frances de la Tour, John Hopkins, Tim Piggott-Smith, Geraldine James, Leo Bill, Michael Sheen, Alan Rickman, Barbara Windsor, Paul Whitehouse, Timothy Spall, Michael Gough, Sir Christopher Lee, Imelda Staunton, Jim Carter, Frank Welker


Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeh. Meh meh meh meh. Meh.

Seriously, though, meh. It has some neat ideas, and I actually couldn't watch it in the background half the time because of all the information on the screen, but Depp doing that silly dance out of nowhere was like taking a fish to my brain. And is it me, or does he randomly change his accent to an odd sort of Scottish? It was so devoid of context, like the "make your luck" line in The Dark Knight that was dripping in the rote filming process of single-camera cinema.

In fact, most of the film was devoid of context. Why is the white queen "good"? Does she even ever do a good deed? Does Burton mean to give her the sinister, psychotic edge I feel in her scenes? She looks like the villain, does that weird hand-waving thing with the creepy smile, forces Alice to risk her life for her while feigning freedom of choice, and then exiles her own sister. Going back to forcing Alice... seriously, man, like... seriously... man... that's totally what every leader of every country that has gone into a war of choice has done: wanna fight some war? Don't want to risk your own life? Or anyone you really care about? Great. Just look for some sap you've never met before, convince them they're destined to kill some Jabberwhythefuckwouldsomeonegivethemostterrifyingcreatureinthestorythestupidestnamethatremindsmeofanewokthathasmatedwithawookiebecausetheproofisinthefinalwordwocky, give them a "magic" sword, and woot, get them going before they go, "Hey, wait a minute... he make fun of our car there never was a cake!" Was Alice anything but a pawn?

And did the Mad Hatter love her? Or was he just looking at her that way because he thinks her head is really deserving of a lawnmower-shaped hat? I have no idea!

Why is the Bandersnatch suddenly friends with Alice? Because she returned the eye? Doesn't it realise she was responsible for it in the first place? And if fixing her wound makes them even, what does bursting through the soldiers mean? It's never explained. Neither is the bloodhound's role in the story; the horse jokes about dogs' habit of believing anything, but this facet of the story is never expounded further.

Now, I admit it looks gorgeous.  I could ignore the overflowing CGI because Burton actually did an effective job of suspending my belief, but, frankly, it's difficult to concentrate on Alice's timely request that the Jabberimpossibletobeafraidofthisthingbecauseyouaretoobusylaughingatitssillynametofearitwocky kindly remove his (I assume it's a male because it has Christopher Lee's voice, although Dr. Girlfriend may have something to say about that) head1 while swinging her incredibly light sword over her head in the midst of sweet nothing but air when you're facepalming the whole way through.

And, finally, the intensity of my dislike for the bookend scenes has no limit. Honestly, I could get beyond the random switch of accents and dancing, the fact that I preferred the Red Queen to the White Queen (and not because she was the bad guy gal of the story), my surprising discovery that the ugly White Queen was actually Anne Hathaway (I never knew the trick was to make her look like an anorexic goth bride), and cheesy one-liners. Heck, I even enjoyed the rest, particularly Tweedledum and Tweedledee, Crispin Glover (I can never hate him, even though his character could have done with more rounding), and Cheshire (if they replaced the entire second act with Cheshire doing a 45-minute presentation on choosing the correct accounting software, I would still have been riveted). But that dull, trite opening (right until Alice shrinks) required me to literally restrain my hand from, twitching and itching for the the stop button, raising and pressing it. Consciously. Sitting there. Telling my hand to stay.

When the Mad Hatter offered to let Alice stay, I was beyond pressing the button because I was already tuning out. You could just feel that "but" coming. It was omnipresent; bearing down on the scene and just waiting to be uttered. That's a shame, because for a second, I actually thought she was going to surprise and agree to stay.
Alas, we're treated to her returning to the "real" world, doing that silly, surely scandalous, dance, and then stepping out of her gender role (it's a period piece) and presumably commanding a ship on its way to infect China on the empire's behalf.

What a waste. If ever there was a moment to choose an insane hatmaker over scurvy, this was it. So, seriously, Alice? You'd rather deal with intestinally-challenged suitors and the burden of money? Okay. Considering the way the rest of the film goes, that would probably be a fair way to end it.


1. That line should only be said by Bonham Carter because it's genuinely funny every time she does.

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