Director: James Bobin
Writers: Linda Woolverton (screenplay), Lewis Carroll (books)
Stars: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter
I have never been the biggest fan of the first film by Tim Burton (as a lover of the books and original animated film) and was not exactly looking forward to what in my opinion was a pointless and unneeded sequel to an equally pointless first film. Hollywood at the moment seems intent in remaking, rebooting, making prequels and sequels of everything it can from old classics (and not so old classics) to foreign films. I’m personally growing tired of it. Whether they think it’s needed for a modern younger audience, or there really is a serious lack of writing talent around I’m not sure.
Mia Wasikowski returns (after her moderately successful role in Crimson Peak) as Alice and I still feel that she is miscast. Mia to my mind is a very classical actress and suits more period drama type stuff. I think that is where she was cast perfectly in Del Torro’s Crimson Peak (Review to come at some point) as that had the style, atmosphere and more importantly the period setting where she shines. Here unfortunately she does not. But then she is not alone in that regard.
We find Alice as a ships captain returning home only to find out that her mother is set to sell away everything they have, including her fathers beloved ship in order to stave of financial ruin. Before much longer Alice is following a butterfly and finds herself back in Wonderland where she meets the old gang again (Nice to hear Rickman’s voice once again) only to be told the Hatter is dying and that his family may well still be alive. Alice sets out to find them in order to save her old friend.
The main problem this film suffers from though is that it is all a little badly paced and a little messy. Bobin to his credit has managed to create a film with a similar look and style to Burton’s epic mess (if that indeed actually deserves any credit), but this isn’t really any better. The effects and CGI come thick and fast to try and paper the cracks of a muddled story, over-acting and a very weak script. Even the score is mostly recycled, and really Danny Elfman can do so much better when he puts his mind to it. At least production values are good though, but then with the budget this feature had, they sure as hell better be.
I personally feel that Depp is long past his best and has not made a good film in close to fifteen years. He lisps his way through his parts and at times looks lost, as if he is wondering exactly what he is doing there. Meanwhile Helena Bonham Carter is just annoying and screeches, screams and over-acts her way through her scenes in an attempt to cover up how bad she is of late. The rest of the cast are acceptable (including Sacha Baron Cohen) but everything is average with no real stand out performances.
A visually very impressive film it is sure to please the younger children but while looking impressive, it cannot hide the truly shocking sections of CGI interlaced within the visuals. The trio really do not have the magic anymore, and without Burton, Depp and Carter are average at best now. Such a shame that a once great actor now churns out more turkeys than swans. Stick it on for the kids during the holidays, but don’t expect much if you’re looking for a quality retelling of the book.
The Sage’s Rating: 5/10