Stars: ** out of 4
Summary: Good visuals and characters, but lacking in true weirdness, wonder, and suspense.
Review: Tim Burton’s just about perfect for this kind of material. I’ve come to appreciate his aesthetic. Why then, is ‘Alice’ not that great? It’s not that bad either, it’s just lacking a certain… something. I don’t think this has to do with a lack of loyalty to the source material. Granted, I’m not familiar with the inner workings of Lewis Carrol’s psychedelic children’s fantasies, so I can’t tell you if it is a solid adaptation or not. The problem with ‘Alice’, I would guess, is that Linda Woolverton’s script seems more like a good second draft than a finished story. I wonder if it was rushed.
At least it’s eye-and-ear candy. It looks slick and very storybookish. Burton veteran Danny Elfman gives another good score, but it does lack the memorability of, say, his work in the ‘Batman’ movies. Alice’s theme is by far the best piece, and the only immediately recognizable leitmotif, but I’d probably have to see it again to say. Segueing to characters while still addressing eye candy, Mia Wasikowska is adorable as the 19-year-old version of Alice. I hope to see her in more stuff, provided she retains an innocence and moral strength. Or she could be a smashing villain, time will have to tell. Providing wackiness but not quite enough strangeness is Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, Alan Rickman as the hookah smoking caterpillar, Absolem (the best character in the film), Stephen Fry as the cool Cheshire Cat, and Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen.
Not bad. It’s not necessary to see this in 3-D; it’s probably better without it.