Tim Burton’s adaptation of the Lewis Carroll classic gives him license, free rein, greased rails, to stage a congenial freak show in a hermetic netherworld: a 3-D moving-picture book. The customary merger of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel, Through the Looking Glass, has the innovation of a marriageable age-of-consent heroine, diving down the rabbit hole to escape a surprise engagement party and an odious snooty suitor. This innovation serves the dual purpose of heading off all the tired old sophisticated drolleries about the Reverend Dodgson’s fondness for little girls and, secondly, of feeding the bottomless contemporary appetite for feminist fantasies of empowerment. (The Australian newcomer Mia Wasikowska evolves from a pasty spaced-out flower child to an armored and sword-wielding Saint Joan, Jabberwock-slayer.) In due time, in fact in short order, the movie achieves a different sort of dullness from that of the forced and haphazard novel, a dullness of satiation. Just as Alice has been taught to pinch herself to return from a dream, you can try pinching yourself to reverse your slippage into a CGI stupor, and at any such pinch, snapping to attention, you can appreciate the amount of labor that went into it, the thorough planning, the attention to detail. And then very soon satiated again, under the glut of computer-manufactured topography, flora, and fauna, you can drift back into stuporville. Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover. (2010) — Duncan Shepherd
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