Alice in Wonderland ½

Was Hook not a lesson to us all not to tamper with works of wonder? Tim Burton’s mystifyingly popular re-imagining of Lewis Carroll’s Alice stories does many things wrong even just on a surface level: that tedious Danny Elfman score; the weird obsession with violence against eyes; the torpor that infects everyone as they stand stiffly in front of green screens; the lazy cribbing from the Lord of the Rings films; introducing the amazing Mia Wazikowska to a wider audience with such an unchallenging role, etc.

Most egregious, though, is the decision to treat the original stories as prequel to a standard Chosen-One-against-the-Evil-Empire fantasy plot that ran out of juice years ago. All Burton can bring to this overused plot is the heinous reappropriation of Carroll’s characters, hacking at their personalities so that they fit into slots in the mechanical narrative machine, with the Mad Hatter as Morpheus, the Caterpillar as the Oracle, and the Jabberwocky as Agent Smith.

Alice in Wonderland (and no, NOT Underland) would be on this list already for the lack of effort expended, but this feeble, energy-sapping exercise in monetising the magical earns my eternal hate for corrupting books of true poetry and mind-expanding eccentricity, debasing Carroll’s delightful imaginative flourishes by transforming them into base elements in a rote plot. It’s a cause for concern that this flaccid monstrosity will fool new readers into mistaking Carroll’s fantasy for a mere forerunner to this “spectacular” “epic”, but hopefully new readers will still derive pleasure and insight from Carroll’s wondrous imagination, and forget that Tim Burton and Disney ever embarked on this unforgivable act of mindless cultural vandalism.