Tim Burton is overrated. There I said it. Now I’m not going to lie, the man is definitely an auteur in the filmmaking world and offers visuals that are truly fantastic from an artistic standpoint but that being said I still don’t see how all the pseudo-gothic high school kids worship the ground he walks on. There are much better directors out there. That being said, when I learned Burton was directing an Alice in Wonderland adaptation, I was intrigued. It seems like a project he was made to do. Well does he pull it off? Well yes, to a degree.
This Alice In Wonderland is a sequel to Lewis Carrol’s books, in which Alice is 19 and about to be engaged. Nervous she runs away from her engagement party and once again, falls down the rabbit hole to Wonderland. Since she left, The Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) has the world under her tyrannical control and it’s up to Alice to save the day. Alice, with the help of various allies, must traverse across Wonderland to accept her destiny as the White Queen’s Champion and slay the Jabberwocky.
Before we go into some of the problems with the film let’s just say straight up: Alice in Wonderland is absolutely gorgeous. If you can afford to put in the extra few bucks to see it in 3D, do it. Wonderland truly comes to life through Burton’s vision that is both beautiful, frightening and eccentric. If you need another Avatar-esque fix, look no further. Additionally, there is a great cast here. From the obvious stars, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway, to more surprising appearances from Alan Rickman and Crispin Glover. Everyone in this cast seems to give there all, even if there isn’t a lot there at times.
In fact seeing this world in jaw-dropping Disney Digital 3D will probably help you overlook some of the issues the film has story and character-wise. It’s pretty obvious that the film, much like the original book and several adaptations, would have a very surreal and idiosyncratic style however, Burton uses his typical embellishments to make the characters and world even more out there. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because you eventually get used to the madness but at first, it’s hard to wrap your head around what’s going on. Burton also attempts to flesh more complex personalities for Carrol’s creations. Sometimes it works, other times not so much. There are even characters, such as The White Queen (Anne Hathaway) who don’t really have that important of a role and just give off the impression of just “being there”.
Overall, this is a very typical Burton experience which is why a lot of people will love it and why others won’t. At times the film even shifts to completely ridiculous where even diehard Burton fans will just not understand, most notably when Mad Hatter spontaneously starts doing a celebratory breakdance.
While this film isn’t perfect however, you’ll tend to forget that when gazing at this world, even if you’re not a fan of Tim Burton. Visually, it’s that impressive. Burton fans will obviously be in heaven but those who aren’t may just want to catch a 3D matinee if they’re curious.