Alice in Wonderland (2010)

(In theatres, March 2010) The good news with Tim Burton is that he is guaranteed to put a vision on screen.  Alas, it may not be the vision you would prefer.  So it is that this loose sequel to the classic Alice in Wonderland is an affront to my aesthetic preferences: At the exception of the oh-so-cute Cheshire Cat, I found the film’s artistic choices ugly.  This is partly intentional; after all, the point of this follow-up is that Wonderland has grown tainted; the magic has fled the land and been replaced by corruption.  {Insert heavy-duty genre fantasy narrative schematics inspired by John Clute here.}  No wonder everything is so repulsive.  The showy use of 3D makes moments of the film look even more incomprehensible and overdone to 2D audiences.  But as hard as it is to ignore Alice in Wonderland’s visuals, the real snore comes from the plot, which feels as Alice filtered through the Lord of the Rings plot template that has informed almost a full decade of genre cinema fantasy by now.  It’s dull, and the overdone shot of the two armies running to clash together has become almost parody.  Alice in Wonderland becomes duller as it goes on, and not even Johnny Depp’s increasingly active Mad Hatter (or Anne Hathaway’s regal presence, for that matter) can do much to redeem the rest of the picture.  It’s a middling fantasy film at best: when “dull” and “ugly” crop up in the same review, there’s little room for favourable quotes.

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