Alice in Wonderland is one of the most enduring stories in the history of Western Civilization, helped with the golden touch of Disney who has decided that they needed to revive the already popular tale about a girl who falls down a hole after her undying curiosity attracted her to an albino rabbit.
Tim Burton is famous for showing his audience some of the most bizarre plots, visuals, and settings ever known in Cinema. However, in “Alice” he feels right at home—a little bit too comfortable with just settling for his own standards of status quo as this film’s aesthetics is missing a lot of Burton’s weirdness. As if Burton had decided that he was going to rest on his laurels and take a lackadaisical approach in directing this film. To his credit, he did, predictably so, made this new “Alice” into a very dark world, which undoubtedly was one of his goals. Mission Accomplished!
The real treat in this movie was in the wonderful performances from all actors involved, especially the voice acting, beginning with the always fantastic Alan Rickman (as a hookah smoking, blue caterpillar), Stephen Fry (awesome performance as the Cheshire Cat), and Barbara Windsor (providing the voice of Dormouse). Also worthy of note was the stellar performance of Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen as the author never got tired of hearing her famous catchphrase, “off with their heads!” And of course, Johnny Depp was being Johnny Depp, proving why he and Tim Burton should always be attached at the hip.
The movie, undeniably entertaining, was however missing something. There was no hidden message to decipher as this film should be taken at face value meaning everything that happened in the film should be taken literally. The closest the film comes to commentating about any social issues, past or present, occurs before she falls down the hole and her future mother-in-law asked Alice, at her upscale engagement party, if she knew what her biggest fear was, to which Alice sharply replied, “Is it the decline of Aristocracy?” That’s as far as satirical this movie gets as the rest of the film is very clichéd and has very little originality and creativity (good vs. evil, dark world vs. light world, ordinary protagonist needs to tap potential to save the world, etc.). Also, the film’s supposed bread and butter, the CGI, is not used to enhance the movie, but rather it feels like a gimmick—worse if you paid the extra money to see it in 3D—a style that was implemented because that style is the status quo of the current era.
Nevertheless, let’s not forget that this film was not a vehicle for Tim Burton to take risks; rather it was a chance for Tim Burton and Johnny Depp to make lots and lots of money for the Dinsey (sic) Corporation. Mission Accomplished!