Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” begins ten years after the events of the original tale. In that sense, it is a sequel or a return to wonderland. However, Burton’s film is full of scenes and lines of dialogue lifted directly from the original books by Lewis Carroll. It is here that the film fails. I did not know whether this was an adaptation of the original or a sequel, it’s best to think of it as a reimagining.
Mia Wasikowska stars as a nineteen-year-old Alice. Long after her first encounter with wonderland and by now long forgotten, she returns once again. Her mission is to save the beautiful land from a wicked witch, the Red Queen (Helen Bonham Carter). Of course, on her journey she meets a handful of quirky characters who have been expecting her. The Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) leads her to the White Queen (Anne Hathaway), sister of the Red Queen. It is fairly easy to predict the rest.
Watching this on the big screen will be a treat for children. The visuals are stunning and Burton supplies us with a film that is a feast to the eye. Do not expect to enter a 3-D world equivalent of Pandora, but still enjoy your brief stay at wonderland, for some of the CGI shots and landscapes are jaw dropping.
Depp delivers the usual bizarre performance, we come to expect from him in a Burton collaboration, but my hats go off to Bonham Carter who steals every scene she’s in. Her humorous performance both made me laugh and gave me the creeps.
So far, all I have mentioned is the positive, or more precisely the only positive aspects about this film. There are no twists and turns here and besides being visually impressive there is not enough substance to make it memorable. In fact, “Alice in Wonderland” reminded me of “Chronicles of Narnia”, perhaps a bit too much. I can’t praise the originality for that it isn’t, I can’t praise the story, for we’ve seen it all before, I can, however, praise the visuals, the only element that stayed with me after the credits.
“Alice in Wonderland” is only the third film ever released in 3-D here in Egypt. I would not much care if it were the last. Visuals alone cannot save a picture. With the sudden 3-D movement in Hollywood, this is exactly what I feared, filmmakers focusing on the technical elements and ignoring the story and heart of a movie. Watching this 3-D film felt like going on a date with a beautiful young woman and discovering she has no soul.