Alice in Wonderland (Review)

ALICE IN WONDERLAND
(3/05/10; Fantasy, 3D)
Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Michael Sheen, Helena Bonham Carter, Stephen Fry, Anne Hathaway, Alan Rickman, Crispin Glover
SCR: Linda Woolverton; based on the books by Lewis Carroll
DIR: Tim Burton
MPAA: PG for fantasy action/violence involving scary images and situations, and for a smoking caterpillar.
1 hour 48 mins
BOX: $331,093,518

Tim Burton. Alice in Wonderland. Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter. Alas, those three bullet points tell us everything we need to know about this frenzied, big-budget event movie that finds 19-year old Alice (Wasikowska) returning to “Underland,” with no memory of having visited before.

This device cleverly allows the filmmakers to position this version as a sequel to all versions that have come before While that narrative shorthand worked for The Incredible Hulk (2008) and Star Trek (2009), it seems a bit of a cheat here (as does that head-scratcher of an epilogue that sets up an adventure we’ll never see).

As usual for a Burton opus, the set designs are tremendous and the 3D visuals mostly work despite being converted after the film was shot. If only Burton and screenwriter Woolverton had invested in the 2D characters and flat dialogue. Seriously, if Carter’s Red Queen said “Off with his head” one more time, I was going to stick my head in a rabbit hole.

Fortunately, I don’t represent the rest of the world who responded to this generic variation of Carroll’s oft-told stories with a bounty of nearly a billion dollars before a quick (rather controversial) turnaround to DVD just 12 weeks after debuting in theaters. (Disney)

— DENNIS WILLIS

Author: Dennis Willis

Dennis Willis is an award-winning producer, TV host, producer, director, editor (he preferred Avid until a torrid affair with Adobe Premiere, and the rest is history), author and film critic (print and radio). Dennis produced and hosted the TV programs Reel Life, FilmTrip, Soundwaves (1983-2008) and produces the annual Soundwaves Xmas program. He is currently the film critic on KGO Radio in San Francisco, and a member of both the San Francisco Film Critics Circle and the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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