Tim Burton's creative juices run dry in a decidedly boring and bland interpretation of Alice in Wonderland. Even Burton's muse, the usually awesome John Depp, dials in a retread of his Willy Wonka character from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The plot is basically a blase guide to female empowerment.
Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is all grown up and feeling the shackles of 19th century British society. She's supposed to accept a marriage proposal at an outdoor engagement party, but ends up chasing a white rabbit instead. She predictably falls through a hole in a tree stump and is magically transported to a fantastic, but dangerous world. There she meets the Mad Hatter (Depp), the Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry), and others who inform her of her great destiny. She has returned to 'Underland' to slay the Jabberwocky and end the rule of the evil Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter). Alice, of course, thinks they're bonkers but is thrust into an adventure where her confidence, and sword fighting skills, grow.
I was terribly bored during this film. The 3D, the special effects, the story, aren't captivating at all. It's an underwhelming film, everything seems so familiar. Tim Burton is a great director and artist. His body of work is tremendous, but it's almost as if he's dialing this one in. This is not a swipe at the technical mastery of this film. Countless millions, hundreds of people, and years of development make the technical side flawless. But what we expect from Tim Burton, especially with a story like Alice in Wonderland, is to be amazed, dazzled and charmed. Here, I almost fell asleep halfway through, and that's disappointing.
I guess they can't all be winners. I'll continue to be first in line for every Burton film, but he takes a mulligan here. Helena Bonham Carter is great as the Red Queen, but cannot prop up the entire film with her performance. Alice in Wonderland will keep smaller children entertained, and bore the pants off their parents.