DVD REVIEW Alice In Wonderland
Tim Burton’s latest is not so much white rabbit as white elephant
2010 • PG • 104 mins • £19.99 • Friday 4 June 2010 (yes, a Friday! Mad, eh?)
Also available on Blu-ray (£23.99/£24.99)
Director: Tim Burton
Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway
What exactly is Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland? A remake? A sequel? A (shudder) reimagining? Pointless?
Why Burton didn’t just film the book is mystifying. Instead, we have a return-to-Wonderland scenario. Famous scenes are recreated or twisted into new versions, then randomly inserted into a new plot featuring an amnesiac teenage Alice trying to discover her muchness (possibly the limpest teenage self-discovery metaphor ever committed to celluloid). You can’t help being reminded of Spielberg’s Hook, and few people ever want reminding of that.
But hey, this is the route that Burton’s chosen to take, so let’s not be churlish and complain about what the movie isn’t, and just enjoy it for what it is, eh? That’s not as easy as you might think. Burton and Wonderland may sound on paper like a marriage made in heaven, but the result is disappointingly bland and half-baked.
It looks stunning, for sure, even stripped of its cinematic 3D. There are some spirited performances from the support cast, stirring action sequences and some sublime CG work – and all the animal characters are animated with style and humour, especially the March Hare and the Cheshire Cat. But everything in the film is fighting for attention, and little, in the end, actually manages to make much of an impact. It’s a film stitched together from cameos and trailer highlights. The result is curiously unengaging.
It also feels like, having cast Depp as the Mad Hatter, Burton had to expand the role to fit his star. Unfortunately, the character is fleshed out to the point of flabbiness, becoming an action hero, a surrogate romantic lead and tragic survivor all at once. All of which makes him less, rather than more interesting. Alice, meanwhile, is a rather vapid heroine, with little sense of ongoing development, until she suddenly becomes a sword-wielding Amazon at the end.
Luckily both Queens, Red and White, liven things up. Anne Hathaway is just brilliant, channelling Disney’s animated heroines of the ’30s and ’40s, while Helena Bonham Carter shamelessly rips off Miranda Richardson’s Queenie in Blackadder II. But despite moments of Burton brilliance, overall the film is much of a muchness.
An underwhelming bunch: just three six-minute featurettes on Alice, the effects and creating Wonderland. There’s some interesting behind-the-scenes footage on offer, but the interviews are fluffy and slight. Blu-ray folks, be aware you have a choice between the “double-play” edition (which includes a digital copy) and the “triple-play” one (which doesn’t).