Lewis Carroll’s classic story enters the 21st century in this week’s At the Movies as Rolling Stone‘s Peter Travers tackles Disney and director Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. In Burton’s vision of the story, Alice is not a seven-year-girl but a young woman, played by Mia Wasikowska, running away from her engagement party and the man she doesn’t want to marry. She descends down the Rabbit Hole to escape her life, and once there encounters all the famous characters, from Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter to Anne Hathaway’s White Queen to Helena Bonham Carter’s evil Red Queen.
You know the story by heart by now, the off-with-their-heads and whatnot, but what makes this Alice a must-see are the performances. Depp, Wasikowska and Crispin Glover’s Knave of Hearts all shine in this film, adding a layer of heart and absurdity to Burton’s version. (Check out Travers’ interview with Glover here.) If there’s a flaw in the film, it’s that Alice encounters too many characters, so many that the viewer loses focus of Alice’s mission. Also, to cash in on the Avatar bucks, Alice is presented in 3-D, even though it was filmed in 2-D. The film isn’t as trippy as some older fans might like — it is PG and Disney, after all — but like with his version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Burton’s unique vision adds a refreshing burst of life to an old classic.
However, whatever you do this weekend, do not see the cop drama Brooklyn’s Finest, which earned a rare zero-star review from Travers in the new issue of Rolling Stone and is an automatic addition to the Scum Bucket. Despite a promising cast featuring Ethan Hawke, Richard Gere, Don Cheadle and the welcome return of Wesley Snipes, Antoine Fuqua’s Brooklyn’s Finest is one police drama cliché after another, meanderingly predictable and as Travers say, “the same old cop crap.” You’re better off taking two trips to Wonderland than a journey to Brooklyn.
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