No Wonder in Burton’s Wonderland

by Tiffany Jarva

I so wanted to love Tim Burton’s version of Wonderland.

That’s because the fantastical Burton doing his version of wonderland seemed like a no-brainer: dark, innovative, imaginative filmmaker meets the dreamy nonsensical world of Lewis Carroll. Apparently Burton, a master of creating mood (The Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands), wanted to create a new film version of Alice in Wonderland that was more story-driven and less about a girl wondering around aimlessly, encountering a series of crazy events and wacky characters. Unfortunately, this new story, based on a screenplay by Linda Wolverton (a strange blend of elements from Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and Through the Looking Glass) feels forced, and utterly predictable like a feel-good after-school-TV -movie with a ‘I think I can and therefore I can’ plot. This film absolutely dilutes the dreamy Wonderland experience.

The popping, pretty colours and visually-appealing Burton style is present and can be rather delightful at times: like the shrinking and growing of Alice and the impact this has on her clothing. There were some entertaining moments from Johhny Depp as the Mad Hatter, although his accent seems confused at times: Is it Scottish or British or American? Helena Bonham Carter is marvelous as the self-centred, raging mad Red Queen. And the dark, elongated Stayne, Knave of Hearts, played by Crispin Glover, is spot-on. Newcomer Mia Wasikowska as Alice is a wisp of a lovely creature, floating on and off screen. She is playful and quite funny at the beginning of the film but by the end her character seems too trite and burdened with dialogue full of clichés, it’s painful to watch. Sure, Alice in Wonderland is a box-office hit, but definitely not a wonder to behold for very long.

Hooked?

Definitely not. Doubt I’ll ever watch this version of Alice in Wonderland again:  2 hooks (out of possible 5)

Disney’s 1951 Animated Alice in Wonderland: This is a classic worth watching over and over again. I will never tire of this version’s hookah-smoking caterpillar’s “Whoooo…are…you?” voiced by actor Richard Hadyn, probably better-known for his portrayal of Max in The Sound of Music: 4 hooks (out of possible 5)