Top critical review
Not your childhood Alice in Wonderland!
on August 20, 2013
Right from the opening scenes when Alice reaches Wonderland; it becomes quite apparent that this is definitely a Tim Burton production. From the gritty bottom of the rabbit hole to the burnt and twisted trees surrounding the Red Queen's castle to the final battle against the Jabberwocky; it bears at times an uncanny similarity to his previous works like Corpse Bride, Bettlejuice or Nightmare before Christmas. More along the lines of an 18th Century Grimm's Fairy tale than the original sanitized Disney animated feature of our youth. (I definitely wouldn't recommend this for small children!) In other words, Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland is a fairy tale for adults more so than children!
And in this vein it works rather well. Johnny Depp is up to his usual high standards as a Hatter that's more Post Traumatic Stress than Mad, the visuals are striking (if somewhat grim at times), the action scenes when she's travelling must be pretty impressive in 3D (wish I could see that), the musical score is damn addictive (I'm still humming it as I write this review - cannot get it out of my head) and the surround sound not only is a very immersive 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio but my Denon receiver indicates it's got EX decoding for the back channel as well and it gets plenty of use. Very impressive.
On the negative side. As I said, it's more of a film for adults rather than children, the beginning and ending tends to drag a bit (though it does make a good period drama), the action scenes are interposed with quieter scenes in which nothing much happens and the final battle has been done better in movies like the first two Narnia's or The Golden Compass. So where fantasy movies like those I'd rate from 4 to 5, I can't in good conscience rate this any higher than 3 to 3-1/2. In other words, although this movie has great visual and audio power, it just doesn't have as much staying power.