Man, fuck the macabre. The macabre has so out-macabred itself that it’s come all the way around and it’s basically a Ziggy cartoon. Tim Burton’s long-awaited Alice in Wonderland adaptation manages—somehow, despite the best efforts of a strangely elongated Crispin Glover and Helena Bonham Carter’s comic genius—to suck every drop of lonesome eeriness and giddy humor out of its source material and replace it with limp but marketable emotional pap. Lewis Carroll’s books (Alice and Through the Looking Glass, both of which make it into this film) are frightening, but not because of toothy monsters or murky scrubland—they traffic in uncanny unhelpfulness and hostile weirdness and the menacing indifference of nonsense. The denizens of Carroll’s Wonderland aren’t a bunch of cuddly pals there to usher Alice home—this isn’t Oz, you guys—they betray and blunder, they laugh in her face, melting in and out of existence at the most inconvenient times. They’re all mad there, etc., etc. They don’t give a shit.
Burton’s film, on the other hand, is a candy-cane action adventure movie about believing in yourself and the power of friendship. A grown-up Alice (who thinks her previous Wonderland vacation was just a dream) falls back down the rabbit hole and discovers that she’s a literal Second Coming—on the Frabjuous Day (barf), says some unexplained prophetic scroll thing, Alice will return to slay the Jabberwocky and free Wonderland from the murderous bondage of the Red Queen. She becomes BFFs with a totally not-mad Mad Hatter (Johnny-Depp-as-Elijah-Wood-as-a-Bratz-doll), rides a lovable dog, wields the Vorpal Blade, and saves the day (spoiler aler—zzzzzzzzzzzz). Visually it is quite a lovely spectacle. Helena Bonham Carter is a comic genius. I literally have nothing else good to say about this movie. What a waste of time.