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Script Review: Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland

Written by: Tom Hardej, Special to CC2K

This SPOILER-FILLED review goes down the rabbit hole of Tim Burton’s new adaptation.

ImageTim Burton doesn’t exactly have the best track record with remakes. Planet of the Apes anyone? Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? So it was with slight apprehension that I approached the script to his next project, Alice in Wonderland, which comes out next March.

Written by Linda Woolverton, who also co-wrote The Lion King, and had a part in Beauty and the Beast, Mulan, and the Teen Wolf cartoon, the script isn’t exactly an adaptation of the original story by Lewis Carroll, as it is an extension of it. Alice went to Wonderland as a child, and she’s now almost grown. She’s 17, and she’s back for more, but doesn’t remember her times there earlier. She’s about to be engaged, maybe. A rich suitor wants to marry her, and the opening scenes of the movie are of her engagement party. But she, of course, gets distracted by a white rabbit.


The White Rabbit (who will be played by Michael Sheen), goes after Alice (played by In Treatment’s Mia Wasikowska) because of an omen that she is the one to slay the Jabberwock, who guards the Red Queen’s empire. But when she arrives, she has no knowledge of this, or of Wonderland at all. She meets Tweedledee and Tweedledum and the Dormouse, the Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry), the Catepillar (Alan Rickman), and of course the March Hare (Noah Taylor) and the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp).

See, the good White Queen (Anne Hathaway), of who these were all loyal subjects, has been banished by the bad Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter). She is much larger than everyone else and surrounds herself in a court full of people with enormous lips, or noses, or ears, as well as the Knave of Hearts (Crispin Glover), her most trusted aide.

The story, of course, is of Alice trying to fulfill the omen and find the sword that can slay the Jabberwock to save the White Queen and bring her back into power. That’s really all there is to it in the rather slight screenplay. The story moves quickly, relying on the fact that we already know these characters, I suppose (a quick IMDB search shows about 20 different versions from the past 50 years, including the most famous, the Disney animated film), and also the fact that Tim Burton is likely to add his brand of crazy to it. It’s hard to know what that will look like, but I imagine Wonderland will look somewhere between the Chocolate Factory and his version of Gotham City, since his films are never short on art direction.

There’s also an odd love story that develops between Alice and the Hatter. I don’t know why this is necessary, maybe to juxtapose the love she doesn’t have in the real world, but it seems misplaced. Despite “Sexiest Man Alive” claims, Depp has never gone the romantic lead route. Especially lately, he plays dark, creepy, complicated men that aren’t interested in getting the girl at the end, so it’s an interesting way for the movie to go.

The other question mark is what will all of these characters look like? How much will be CGI? How much will be makeup? How much will be smoke and mirrors? Alice grows and shrinks and grows and shrinks. At one point, she rides inside the Mad Hatter’s hat. It will be interesting to see what Burton will do with all of that. Will it look ridiculous or cool? The motley crew of actors, especially Burton staple, Johnny Depp, will probably answer that question more than any effects. Will it be played dark or kooky? It’s hard to say. But then this week some pictures were released of the Mad Hatter, the Red Queen, and the White Queen. The pictures are super-creepy, and that gives me hope, but there’s really nothing in the script that gives me confidence that it will be a good movie one way or the other, but I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. Even if it’s as boring as the script reads, at least it will look cool. Burton always guarantees that at least.

Additionally, check out a bunch of images from the upcoming film just released this week below in the gallery!

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