I wish I could say I was underwhelmed. I was in fact de-whelmed.
A dreary, tired and tiring waste that will leave you wanting to watch that 1985 made-for-TV version of ‘Alice’ to wash it’s taste out of your mouth. If previous Alice incarnations have had the flavor of LSD, this is a double dose of Kaopectate and Nytol.

To squeeze all the fun, youthful adventure, intelligence, and bizarre characterizations from Wonderland would seem difficult to do, but Tim Burton makes it look easy in this muddy film that is like a hamster spinning on its wheel or Dirk Diggler trying in vain to awaken his unit. 

Some Words To Tim Burton:
If you’re going to take us back to Wonderland, you’d better have a hook. Why are we going into this well-trod territory? Give us a new spin, a new fresh perspective! Shrek and even The Brothers Grimm (though a bad movie) brought a newness to old stories that made the a valid reason to back there. Your idea of ‘freshness’ is to make Alice a teenager who is revisiting Wonderland continually. That kinda defeats the purpose. Look: It’s become a repetitive and tired dream to her. It feels that way to us too.

You don’t allow any interesting characters to shine. There’s so much muddled mess going on with a Bandersnatch, an old hound dog, and some long-legged Crispin Glover doing nonsense there’s no time to enjoy the characters. There is no interesting vignettes that anyone will be able to recall. The Red Queen interrogating frogs? Nope. Muddy chase scenes? Muddy battle scenes? Screaming unintelligible things at animals that you don’t care about? Nope.

On this topic: you’ve got Crispin Glover, a certified nutball, Helena Bonham Carter, Hollywood’s Bride of Frankenstein, and Crowned Prince of Insanity Johnny Depp. Who of them gets to do anything remotely interesting? You’ve got them so distorted that their performances are lost. Depp does so much with his face that it can be engaging to just watch him at repose. But here you’ve got him so muddled up that watching him is like trying to connect to a kid in a cereal commercial who’s going Cucoo for Cocoa Puffs.

Case in point: You’ve set up that the Mad Hatter does a cool dance and we’re looking forward to seeing Depp do an awesome dance at the end. And what do you do? You CGI some wacky Superbowl Dancing Baby bullshit where his head spins to horrible Danny Elfman breakdance music. I just about shit my pants, scooped my hands through my befouled pants, and joyfully ate my waste at that instant. Do you not realize that Johnny Depp could do any improvised dance at that scene and it would be a hundred times better than that hokey crap?

Lewis Carroll was a brilliant wordsmith and storyteller. His use of language, puzzles, irony, and parody knocked the cultured elites of his time off their high horses. This film has erased any sense of that and been pulled down to prat falls and weak sitcom half-hearted attempts at ‘silliness’. There is no heart nor head in this film.

The story has no arc, meaning, drive, or interest in it. It views like the Level Ending Videos on a bad video game. Seriously, many video games have better characterization and story than this film does. What are we doing here? There is just a back and forth “run around aimlessly” feel. Are we rescuing the Mad Hatter? Getting the sword? Delivering the sword? Killing the Jabberwocky? Who cares? Alice herself hardly cares and this brings us to the next point.

Put some exclamation points in your goddam movie. Alice isn’t convinced that Wonderland is real. She doesn’t buy it and we don’t either. Alice and everybody else isn’t sure she’s the “real Alice”…just people shrugging at each other and that’s how we feel too. Just a big “meh.” In writing and improvisational theatre a rule of thumb is to have some buy-in. A reason to care. People making big decisions and people caring about what they’re doing…Putting exclamation points on the story.

And is this supposed to be a “girl empowerment” movie? You can’t tack on a tacky Avril Levigne song and expect us to believe that there is a message of Girlz Rool, Boyz Drool! It’s pretty condescending to women in almost all respects and any “feminist” message it does have may have been relevant in 1950.
Why do I say that? Because the ‘challenge’ Alice has to conquer in the ‘real’ world is to decide for herself who to marry and not succumb to an arranged marriage. How many 15 year old girls do you know that are having to deal with Arranged Marriage Stress?

I wanted to walk out of this movie. It was a joyless voyage in a murky, uninspired depiction of a land that has been done better a thousand times before.
And why make us look at Anne Hathaway? Her grotesque features made for the most garish face in the film. I would do well to never have to see her grace the silver screen again.
And what a yawn of an “end battle”! We have seen more rousing end climaxes in episodes of Duck Tales!

What a waste. A waste of time, talent, and promise. I can’t imagine who this was trying to appeal to. Teens? Kids? In ten years time, more kids will be watching Time Bandits, Labyrinth, The Sand Lot, Spy Kids, Goonies, and the vastly superior 1951 Disney cartoon Alice in Wonderland.

Do not see this movie at anytime in any venue for any reason.

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