|Alice in Wonderland
Starring Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and Mia Wasikowska
Perhaps it's the heavy expectations or perhaps it's just not that great, but Alice in Wonderland has about as much lasting impact as a late-innings home run by a team down by about a half-dozen runs. Yes, this is a very attractive movie to look at. The trouble comes when you actually watch it. In defense of director/ringleader Tim Burton, there are certainly things this film does well, but it's also a collection of mostly minor miscalculations that really it at arm's length. Let's address the expectations, because they're a little unfair but hard to ignore. There hasn't been a theatrically released Alice in Wonderland to come from Hollywood since this same studio - Disney - made the classic animated version, which probably has more mainstream recognition than Lewis Carroll's book. That film came out nearly 60 years ago, so as technology catches up to Carroll's imaginative creation, a new Alice in Wonderland movie has been talked about for some time. There are also expectations because it's another Burton/Johnny Depp production, and they have quite a track record. And it's Burton's first 3-D movie (A Nightmare Before Christmas was converted many years later, and he didn't even direct that). So that's a lot to live up to. And Disney probably deserves some credit for not begging its director to make the most palatable, family-friendly Alice you'll find. Instead of the standard story we've grown up with, Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is not only older, she's called upon to be heroic. Not in the sense that the story is about her, either - Alice learns very early into her trip down the rabbit hole that she has to slay the evil jabberwocky to save Underland (as it's known to its residents) from the evil Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter).