What Disney studios have done is completely remade their take of “Alice in Wonderland” except they’ve given director Tim Burton carte blanche to completely re-think the lore and Burtonize it to the fullest extent. These days though, Burtonize is akin to doing basically nothing to completely re-work a formula. “Alice in Wonderland” is Tim Burton basically just riding on his name recognition even more by offering up a re-telling of “Alice in Wonderland” except now with a darker tone, surreal imagery, the usual suspects in terms of supporting characters, and a cliché story about a person destined to save a land and become a warrior who will save them from evil.
The warrior is Alice who is forced to re-visit Wonderland which is now at the mercy of the Red Queen. This Alice though, may not be the original Alice, so now this is a new character with the same name of Alice forced to visit this world that she’s barely familiar with. Or is she? I didn’t care in all honesty, all I wanted to do is see what new exciting imagery Burton could offer up. These days all the fun of Burton has become the wild special effects and little else, and even then he simply fails to deliver on a new experience. Burton invokes the same themes of “The Chronicles of Narnia” where a youth who hasn’t lost touch with the magic is the only thing that stands between good and evil while also getting in touch with her warrior-like persona. Alice is an anachronism of true Burton proportions, a young girl filled with imagination and outspoken ideals that keep even her potential husband annoyed with her and she seems even more annoyed by Wonderland which has failed to maintain its luster in her age.
Burton completely saps any and all magic from this re-telling–er–remake–uh– whatever you want to call this and relies on the same old clichés of twisted characters, endless diatribes and monologues and characters we never really feel for. The Mad Hatter is given a bigger part than he deserves and is never an actually complex anti-hero, the white queen is dull, the red queen isn’t as menacing as her past incarnations, and Alice is just a stock heroine of fairytales and lore who doesn’t provide much of a personality or likable charisma that can help audiences root for her and her adventures. Burton packs on the CGI and the strong supporting cast of actors from Alan Rickman to Michael Sheen to Crispin Glover, all of whom are lost in a sea of Burton’s faux-quirky moments (The Mad Hatter dances like Michael Jackson in celebration! That’s weird, so it must be genius!), dull and listless battle scenes splashed on to us in exchange for compelling characterization, and a climax that is both muddled and scatter brained in its delivery.
Worst of all Burton even seems to exhaust the talents of Mia Wasikowska who is perfect for the role of Alice, but seems to sleepwalk through most of this performance. In the end, Burton tries to convince us there is a moral to this story, but like “Alice in Wonderland” it’s all so broad and vague that it just feels absolutely forced on us and lacks in any emotional impact or resonance. One of director Tim Burton’s worst films to date, “Alice in Wonderland” is an endless series of tedious set pieces, flat characterization, lethargic visual effects, a waste of raw talent, and a further indication of what movie fans have feared for years, that Tim Burton is basically just collecting paychecks at this point and Disney has banked on his name recognition yet again. This is yet another lemon in a year filled with an array of disappointments.