Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

A few months back I’m watching this horror movie and this horror movie had no nudity, no sex, no profanity and very little violence. In fact this movie here, Tim Burton’s… heck… I don’t know if should call this a retelling of Alice in Wonderland or a re-interpretation of Alice in Wonderland or something the filmmakers made up and decided stick some characters from Alice in Wonderland in it. Regardless, Tim Burton’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ was way more violent than that horror movie but that horror movie was saddled with an R-Rating from the MPAA with that little information box next the ‘R’ telling is this film was given this rating due to ‘Disturbing Imagery’. Apparently the MPAA board stopped watching ‘Alice’ before Johnny Depp showed up as The Mad Hatter because if that wasn’t a disturbing image I don’t what was, and triply disturbing was I think this Mad Hatter was trying to push up on Alice near the end of the movie. Triply disturbing. Parental Guidance (PG) has never been so very important.

As our story goes Alice is kind of grown up now. Think that ‘Twilight’ chick just a little prettier but still just as sun deprived. Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is a free thinking young woman who drives her mom crazy, as teenaged girls tend to, and is slated to be married to the less than manly future Lord Hamish Ascot (Leo Bill). In the midst of young Mr. Ascot’s proposal Alice spies that natty Rabbit scurrying around who she follows down the rabbit hole and now Alice’s new adventure will begin.

Bad things have happened since Alice last visited, or Underland as they call it here. The land is under the rule of the wicked Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) as the residents of this barren land await the return of their champion, as it is written in the scrolls, to do battle and slay the Jaberwocky and return rule back to the White Queen (Anne Hathaway). Anne Hathaway as the White Queen was ten times more demonic looking than Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen by the way. The theory is that our Alice is this champion even though Alice herself doesn’t believe this to be the case, and there are those amongst the residents who agree with her but the Mad Hatter would not be one of those as he is convinced this is the girl that they’ve been waiting for.

Whether she is or isn’t is neither here nor there about now because adventure awaits. There are knights to battle and dogs to ride and hats to surf and caterpillars to confab with and lecherous green eyed hatters to rescue and a young woman must decide if she’s the future wife of a priggish lord or is she Joan of Freaking Arc. Alice was looking kind of hot in that Joan of Arc getup. Something about a woman in brushed metal and chainmail that does it for me every single time.

This cat at the job was curious why Helena Bonham Carter is always in Tim Burton movies and I had to explain to this dude that Burton is her babies daddy which kind of gives Ms. Bonham-Carter and ‘in’ on these parts. The good thing about this particular case of blatant nepotism is that it almost always works out fabulously in Burton’s movies because the gifted Helena Bonham-Carter’s Red Queen is the best thing about this movie. You have to wade through a ton of really well done CGI effects to actually get to a legitimate acting performance in this movie but the Red Queen was funny and sympathetic while at the same time completely pathological and when she was on the screen this totally swollen, overblown, bloated money printing movie was infinitely more watchable.

The thing is this is kind of what I think one would expect when Lewis G. Carroll is turned over to fertile mind of Tim Burton and the director is given an unlimited budget to work with. Unlimited. A lack of limitations isn’t always a good thing because while this movie is awash in CGI splendor it is deficient in the cheapest thing of all which is telling a unique and engaging story. Strip away the visuals, which of course you can’t do because it is the most important part of this movie, but supposing for a moment you did, you would have a story that is about as rudimentary and as run of the mill as storytelling gets and I’m telling you this as a fan of the work of Tim Burton with ‘The Corpse Bride’ being one of my favorite films of all time. This movie does have its moments here and there because 200 million dollars will buy some moments, no doubt, and there are those unique scenes that do possess this film director’s unique thumbprint, but eventually these moments almost always gives way to CGI action and story telling convention.

But considering what this movie cost to get made, considering that the studio backing this movie is Disney and Disney is not in the business of being inventive or clever but in the business of making money, you get what you get. So to that end this version of ‘Alice in Wonderland’, as amazing as it looks and as fast as it moves, at least for the most part, will succeed in accomplishing what it was designed to do, that being making money hand over fist. Lest we forget this thing is called show ‘business’.

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