A young woman with great expectations, Alice (Mia Wasikowska) finds herself at her own engagement party.
Unhappy with the circumstances of marriage suddenly placed onto her timid shoulders, she treks through the garden and follows a white rabbit into Underland, a familiar place she’s visited in recurring dreams.
Once there, the curious inhabitants wonder whether she’s the Alice of prophesy or just a coincidental namesake.
Contending with the growing prospect that she is the prophesied hero, Alice has to take up the mantle and the pressures that come with it as her journey leads her to its logical conclusion — slaying the Red Queen’s Jabberwocky.
It’s a girl-power film that sets up our heroine for a strong finish, but we’re left with an ending that’s so underwhelming, it feels less like an uppercut and more like a slap to the rear.
It’s hard to believe that the Jabberwocky she’s tasked with killing gets worked by a sworn pacifist who lets the sword, literally, do the cutting for her.
It’s a movie that works against itself. Alice, robbed of agency, is pushed through the story, stopping once in a while to meet a character or two who adds more weight to the load but not as much fuel to the fire. I’m not saying the writers had to force Alice to throw away her conscience or morality. They could have given her options that didn’t have her depending so much on others to do the work.
Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter adds a little bit of character and dash to the story, but even his acting talents can’t carry a movie filled with so much artifice and so abrupt in cutting off attachments.
Anne Hathaway’s dainty White Queen with wrist bent and elbow held high in the air seems out of place as would-be ruler of Underworld, and the grotesque character designs are jarring — the exaggerated body shapes and outlandish makeup contrasts sharply with a story that bounces all over the place and yet seems to go nowhere.
It’s a flashy take on an old story. There’s a ton of that trademark Tim Burton styling — but the character development, story progression, and disjointed journey feel like something’s been lost in the plot.
Alice in Wonderland (2010)
Directed by: Tim Burton
Written by: Linda Woolverton
Starring: Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover, Matt Lucas, Michael Sheen, Stephen Fry, Alan Rickman, and Marton Csokas