Lewis Carroll’s famous children’s novel has had its share of movie adaptations – including, of course, the Disney animated one – but when it was announced that fantastical director Tim Burton (Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Edward Scissorhands) was bringing us his own unique take on the book, it seemed that the perfect version of Alice’s adventures was on its way. Alas, not every fairytale comes true. For not only is this not actually an adaptation of Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland or Through The Looking Glass – it’s a sort of sequel – it’s also surprisingly boring (kids under 11 will nod off) despite the startling sets and Johnny Depp’s terrific casting as the Mad Hatter.
Alice (Wasikowska) is now all grown up and seems to have forgotten about her adventures in Wonderland. At a posh garden party where she is expected to accept the marriage proposal of some dullard, Alice is distracted by a large white rabbit (Michael Sheen), and when she follows him, she trips and falls down a hole. This, of course, leads her back to Wonderland (or Underland as it is really known), and such freaky friends as the Tweedles (Matt Lucas), the Mad Hatter, and the Caterpillar (Alan Rickman), who tells Alice it has been prophesised that she will kill the evil Jabberwocky. Seems all hell has broken loose since Alice was last around – the Red Queen (a freakily brilliant Bonham Carter) has banished the White Queen (Anne Hathaway, being a bit too ethereal so she seems dopey) and now rules Underland with an iron fist.
It all looks spectacular (though the 3D used for its cinema release isn’t really necessary) but with tons of characters and set pieces – and a few scary bits – you don’t get to know or like Alice very much. Depp and Bonham Carter are superb, but you can’t help wishing they have given their bonkers performances in a true adaptation of what is, of course, a classic story.
Is Alice In Wonderland 2010 suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
Younger children will find the battle with the Jabberwocky dark and scary.
The Red Queen is also quite frightening, and there are quite a few tense scenes as Alice wanders through the barren Underland. Younger viewers will also be upset when the Mad Hatter is in danger. This is really more for the over-10s.