Most have heralded it as a match made in fantasy filmmaking heaven—Tim Burton and Lewis Carroll. The mad genius behind Edward Scissorhands and A Nightmare Before Christmas taking on the quintessential freak show fairy tale—Alice in Wonderland…except, that’s not actually what is happening. With the ‘Net abuzz with news of a recently released teaser trailer for the upcoming Disney effort (March 2010 is the proposed time frame for its debut), it’s interesting to note what this new version of Alice is… and is not.
First off, this is not a long awaited faithful interpretation of Carroll’s work by Burton. Instead, from reading early script reviews and the available online synopsis, the eccentric A-list director is taking the Alice characters and reworking them, Hook style, into a more modern, epic-oriented work. In this total reimagining of the tale, Alice is a teen, runs away from a party turned proposal, and ends up back in Wonderland. There she helps the White Queen defeat the evil that is her Red sister with the help of some familiar players from both Volumes of Carroll’s creative lore.
Huh? Doesn’t exactly sound like the “Walrus and the Carpenter”, does it? While the early word had casting run from inspired (Crispin Glover as the Knave of Hearts) to tired (Johnny Depp—yes AGAIN—as the Mad Hatter), the one thing you could count on was Burton’s vision. Part veiled Victorian Gothic, a smidgen of Edward Gorey, and a lot of his own adolescent insecurities, his style usually offers up memorable images—just look at such imaginative works as The Corpse Bride, Beetlejuice, and Sleepy Hollow. But this critic for one was rather underwhelmed by the initial pre-production stills, and now the trailer comes along to inspire even more concern. While it’s still too early to tell, this may be the first time that Burton has been caught copying himself—and doing it rather ineffectually.