Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland or The Return of Alice


Not sure how Lewis Carroll would feel about this one.

Well in “Alice in Wonderland” costumes are splendid; acting: exquisite and cast: very well suited. Helena Bonham Carter plays a perfectly dry Queen of Hearts, impatient and brainless as a card; Johnny Depp a perfectly mad Mad Hatter; Mia Wasikowska a charming and strong-willed Alice (though a bit too Hollywoodized). The characters are greatly conceived: the White Rabbit, the flowers, the fish and frog and pig and monkey servants, all the animals, the Cheschire cat are all delightful. The sets bear Burton’s ever-so creative signature. Lewis Carroll’s mad world is wonderfully captured there in visuals and acting… except when it comes to the cards and the monsters.

The master’s work was quirky, deliciously delirious but who ever found it scary? His cards were not ferocious. At least, I’d never imagined them that way – and I grew up on this book. (That and The Little Prince). Now, I know I’ve become increasingly sensitive to any sort of aggression and might be a bit over the top in this area, but frankly, I felt much too frightened and it reduced my enjoyment greatly. I felt like I had to cover my daughter’s eyes during much too much of the film. Music of danger and suspense should be used sparingly too. (Not impressed by the score by the way – missing wind harps, ocarinas, bagpipes and other unusual sounds)

I guess I had trouble with how freely adapted this was, with dialogue that couldn’t even come close to Carroll’s ankle (much too little of his wit was retained) with soapy lines to the effect of it’s up to me to change this dream or yes, I can do it if I believe I can or to take exact quotes: “this is impossible – only if you believe it is”. I guess Disney must feel there must be a motivational message instead of pure delirious dialogue and delightful nonsense.

The storyline… ok. Really not that hot. So Alice has been transformed into the long-awaited heroine who must defeat the Jabberwocky to save Wonderland from the Red Queen. In other words, basically, Alice in Wonderland became an action movie. Way too Hollywood. Hero’s journey, suspense, monsters, final battle: never been a big fan. The story was so different from the original it would have been better named something like “The Return of Alice“.

It’s too bad; with a better script, or maybe an adaptation much closer to the original, this could have been truly outstanding. Tim Burton meets Lewis Carroll, come on, what a match!


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