Alice is now 19 and can’t quite remember Wonderland – was it just a recurring dream, or something more? Tim Burton’s new film doesn’t take the idea anywhere, but it has an uncanny resonance with my own viewing of the film. I can’t remember if I ever read Lewis Carroll’s books as a child properly or not. I suspect not; I think I may have seen the cartoon, and bits of the cartoon and read the Golden Books or Disney book of it. Yet, of course, so much is nearly familiar, as Burton gives us a sequel or a mash-up or something.
I think the film’s major failing is its uninspired and confused plot. Once we get to Wonderland, we get stuck in a cliche: the bad queen versus the good queen, with forces on each side, and no exploration of why. There just has to be a good side and a bad side in any fantasy narrative. Don’t kids (and the adults taking them) deserve something a little more sophisticated? The pangs of betrayal? The nuances of the failings of any political system?
We get a couple of mentions of the Jabberwocky through the film, but no set up for the climax in which, of course, Alice must fight the creature. It makes it seem rather pointless, a video game with the big monster at the end.
The film’s strengths are its relentless zany visual interest and an enchanting performance by Mia Wasikowska as Alice.
I had the pleasure of seeing it at the Cygnet in Como, the first time I’ve ever been to this elegant one-screen cinema.