Given Burton’s recent films I had very high expectations from this one as well. Sadly however, this film did not live up to my expectations and was disappointing. It didn’t have the same impact that Sweeney Todd or Edward Scissorhands did. It was most certainly not memorable in any way, like most, if not all, other Burton movies.
One count on which this movie failed miserably was that of utilising the talents of the actors. In spite of having some amazing actors in the movie such as Alan Rickman (my respect for the man’s talents grows day by day), Helena Bonham Carter and Michael Gough (for those who can’t place him, he’s the guy who plays Alfred in the lame [i.e. Non-Christopher Nolan] Batman movies) the movie comes off as very insipid. The biggest disappointment was obviously Johnny Depp whose version of the Hatter will not go down as one of his best or, for that matter, even better roles.
The storyline is a reimagining of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. However none of the nuances of the book come across in the movie. None of the deep philosophical dialogues find a place in the movie. Also the complexity of the characters does not come across at all. The Mad Hatter’s character does to some extent, but I suspect that was more because of Johnny Depp than anything else.
In an attempt to make the movie a popular one, Burton has sacrificed most of the things that make Alice’s Adventures a literary classic. The outcome is your standard formulaic good versus evil story. In an act to make the movie more exciting , Burton has in fact come out with a vapid retelling which is as stimulating as the next Stephanie Meyer book rag.
What Burton gives us in the end is a massacred version of the works of Caroll, with a filmi story and without everything that has made the book a must-read for everyone everywhere.
There are, however, a few individual scenes in the movie that have an awesome effect. One such scene is the one with the Hatter (played by Johnny Depp) reciting the poem “Jabberwocky” to Alice. Another very nice scene is one with Alice being chased by the Bandersnatch. Yet another one is that of the tea party.
Another thing I really liked about the movie was the fact that the terms were kept intact and practically no effort was taken to explain them. The seamless use of ‘jubjub bird’, ‘bandersnatch’, ‘vorpal blade’, ‘snickersnack’, ‘Frabjous day’ and ‘Calooh Callay” was particularly heartening.
As with all Burton movies, this one too was visually brilliant. While the movie really didn’t need to be 3-D for it didn’t add anything to the movie (except for a few headaches for people in the audience), the use of computer graphics to give a very realistic effect especially with all the creatures is particularly good.
Overall: My rating would be ‘average’. All in all it’s a good watch, but not a good movie if you’ve read Caroll. As a stand-alone movie, it’s decent but if we are looking at it as a retelling of a literary classic the movie could have been much better. In my view Burton should have stuck to his domain and come out with a dark version. If anyone can make a dark version of Alice in Wonderland work, it’s Tim Burton.