Alice Kingsley (Mia Wasikowska) is, unbeknownst to her, on her way to her engagement party. Turns out this is the famous Alice who 13 years earlier ventured in to Wonderland. Surely there is a creative reason to pull her back into the zany world. Nope, she merely felt the urge to chase a rabbit who himself was seeking to fulfill a prophecy. And so, Alice in roped back into the world of fantasy/absurdity.
If you've seen anything at all on this movie, then the strengths are obvious. It's Disney, it's CGI loaded, it's in 3D. Everything visual is well appointed with lavish detail. It makes me wonder if director Tim Burton is better suited as a set designer since he is always given projects for his vision. I recall a time where his vision wasn't hampered by the concepts of others, at time when his films were so wholly original that nothing else compared, and sadly he's been stuck in a limbo of "revisions" for a decade.
For a girl who can't remember anything, Alice is never surprised. She sees giant creatures, she shrinks, flies on a hat, all without a yelp. The first person to blame would be Burton, since Wasikowska lacks leading experience. Still I wonder what's going through her head when she decided to play Alice as oppressively jaded. Outside the last ten minutes, she's the antithesis of Dorothy. Having a protagonist who's so down trodden in a beautiful world is counterintuitive.
Johnny Depp. You pay the man and he'll do his thing. I can't tell you that his character, The Mad Hatter, is an original. I'm sure it's a combination of other Depp figurines. With the Hatter he has carte blanche to do anything, anything at all, and somehow be considered in character. It doesn't matter that he's periodically possessed by a Scotsmanhe's in character and he's Johnny Depp so it must be fantastic, right? More amusing are Helena Bonham Carter and Crispin Glover, the latter of whom you wouldn't recognize.
The White Queen (Anne Hathaway) was in position to be the most complex element of the film. I suppose her role is to assume power in the event that her sister is dethroned. For a character who talks a big game of peace, she sure does mix together an abhorrent potion to return Alice to normal size. Despite repeatedly saying she represents good, I didn't see any evidence. Toes would have been crushed I'm sure, but the vibe from Anne's portrayal suggested that she wanted to be the calculating nemesis.
I can't tell you how stupid this movie made me feel. For some reason it figured a major plot point would be found in determining the identity of Alice. If you are seated in the theatre watching a film called Alice in Wonderland you will not be surprised to find that the lead character of Alice is indeed the very same mentioned in the title. Why we spend most of the film getting to this conclusion feels like an attempt to recreate Hook.
By the end you realize that Alice is the problem with Wonderland. In the 13 years she's been gone, her friends seem to be in good health despite the Red Queen reigning over the land. Why are they looking for her now? The Red Queen was in power this whole time and they seem to be in good shape, but when Alice gets there the queen challenges them. I suppose she's just as upset to have such a lifeless young girl in her land. I for one am disenchanted.