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Alice in Wonderland

A 2010 Tim Burton film based on Lewis Carroll's book of the same name.

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Too ordinary to be either Carroll or Burton.

  • May 23, 2012
Rating:
-3
*1/2 out of ****

"Alice in Wonderland" is quite possibly the most boring film Tim Burton has ever made. It is so boring - and tedious, and maddening, and flat - that it comes off as an absolute surprise that such a brilliant and visionary filmmaker would have made it. But did Burton really make it? That's what I'm wondering by the time it's over, because this is just a mess. And not a fun mess either. It's one of those good-looking, overly indulgent and just-so-goddamn-stupid messes. And it shouldn't have ended up as it did. Burton is one of the finest visual artists working in the film industry today (see "Sweeney Todd", "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", and "Big Fish" for recent examples of his more positive contributions to the film world), and Lewis Carroll's spectacularly strange and controversial "Through the Looking Glass" seemed like the perfect project for the man to tackle. Maybe the problem rests in the fact that it's yet another Disney-made adaptation of the material; and perhaps another was Burton's inability to recognize that the first one (the animated feature that captured the hearts of many all those decades ago) got it right on the note that it was trying to strike. The studio took the images and feelings of Tim Burton and made their own film out of his gifts.

Alice (played here by the lovely Mia Wasikowska) was once a little girl, although she never really stops being one. The story begins with the revelation that she has been having recurring and peculiar nightmares lately and at such a young age; and the scene that follows that one goes on to say that the bad dreams never ended. Just when Alice is about to be proposed to by a man she doesn't even love (thus making her society's definition of a lady), her visions return to her; and she follows the sharply dressed white rabbit down the deep dark hole that leads to Wonderland (which is really called Underland, according to most of the residents). Alice has been there before when she was younger, although her memory is pretty hazy. The door-mouse, white rabbit, dodo bird, and fat twin midgets Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum remember her quite fondly though, although they are forever skeptical of her true identiy; as is the blue, hookah-smoking caterpillar Absolem (voice of Alan Rickman), who has less screen-time than his fascinating character deserves.

Alice re-unites with her old friends from Underland - including the prolific Cheshire Cat (voice of Stephen Fry) and the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) among others - only to hear the same thing from every one of them; a path has been laid out for her, and at the end of the road, she must bring down the diabolical Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) and her pet dragon, the Jabberwocky (voice of Christopher Lee). To do this, she must obtain some magical sword; bring it back to the palace of The White Queen (Anna Hathaway) so that they can then assemble an army of good guys to fight the army of bad guys (who are all shaped like cards, no less). The first act is getting there, the second is Alice pondering this "destiny" of hers, and the last act is the slaying of the Jabberwocky and beyond. There seems to be a moral to the story, and perhaps it deals with Alice becoming a woman through her experiences in Underland; but yet again, Burton seems to believe that his audience will buy into his "themes" if he presents them in his story for a mere 30 seconds or so. I wonder where the smart, thought-provoking Burton went. Perhaps down the rabbit hole never to return.

At the very least, his "Alice in Wonderland" has the advantage of looking very, very good. There are vibrant colors, elaborate sets and costumes, and remarkable special effects. These are all good, and kudos to those who worked so hard to bring this vision to life. However, this is Burton going more-so down the path of a CGI extravaganza than an actual compelling story; of which there is clearly one to be told here that isn't so-much told at all. Burton has a lot of opportunities to deal with personal themes and put images on the screen that are easy on the eyes but psychedelic in their appeal, but he takes the easy way out and makes yet another bland adaptation of Carroll's story for children. That's not to say that all parents will be bored - since this is a love it or hate it kind of film - but for me, there was little aside from the frequent eye-candy to keep me awake. The characterization is ridiculously shallow, the plotting is far too simplistic, the messages heavy-handed and lame, and it even feels slightly mis-cast at times. Depp should not have played the Mad Hatter, Crispin Glover's role should not have been played by Crimson Glover, and Helena Bonham Carter's constant "off with his/her head" chanting gets more annoying than charming as it goes along.

It's only once in a blue moon that a Tim Burton film bores me to death, but it had to happen eventually, and unfortunately that movie also had to be "Alice in Wonderland". In all honesty, it's a visually impressive movie, but it lacks all substance and aggravates more than it entertains. There are a few disposable chuckles as only Burton can deliver them, and the images feel at least somewhat like his own, but the movie just doesn't work whatsoever. You can craft a purely visual experience and still bring the viewer into your world, although that isn't what Burton does here. The film is far too conventional and generic to do that. Instead of a welcome treat of trippy spectacle, we get an adaptation that sticks its head down the rabbit hole but not its body and soul. Either Burton didn't really understand the source material or the studio held him at gunpoint and told him when to yell "action" and "cut". Knowing Burton, it's probably the latter; but I can't imagine why he'd ever let this kind of thing happen to himself either.

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More Alice in Wonderland (2010 movi... reviews
review by . December 12, 2010
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review by . March 06, 2010
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review by . July 08, 2010
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      ALICE IN WONDERLAND   I have to say that I am indeed a fan of Lewis Carroll the person who wrote the stories on which this film was based [yes I said stories as in multiple, it’s true look it up], and am a huge fan of the animated film that we all know and love, CLASSIC. Add in that I am a Tim Burton fan, a Johnny Depp fan [my girl loves him], and a huge Helena Bonham Carter fan [I love her]. So naturally we all got together to see this film opening night …
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You know, I don't pay much attention to professional movie reviews so when I read on Twitter that the critics trashed Alice in Wonderland, I was a little surprised. Especially since my 4 year old and I watched it 4 times in a row! Yep, you read that right.   Of course, I love Johnny Depp in everything that he does- he's a chameleon actor and he does not disappoint as the Mad Hatter in this Tim Burton adaptation.  Likewise, Helena Bonham Carter was perfection as …
review by . May 17, 2010
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There's a lot of criticism focusing around Tim Burton at the moment and it's spiked at the release of this film. The major criticisms directed at Burton focus on his lack of any original ideas and the re-casting of the same actors in every film he makes. Johnny Depp is a great actor; I don't think anybody would deny this, but to cast him in almost every movie made by Burton is just insane and has become repetitive to the point it's becoming damaging to Depp's career. He seems now like an actor that …
review by . March 30, 2010
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review by . June 07, 2010
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Alright, so I am a HUGE Johnny Depp fan. I loved his collaboration with Burton in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, so I was very excited for Alice in Wonderland. I had heard many things in passing about this movie, so I wasn't expecting it to be a carbon copy of the Disney film. I just watched it last night and I wasn't thrilled.      I thought the cinematography was excellent and I enjoyed the change of storyline. I figured out the "twist" or "new take" …
review by . June 04, 2010
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Ryan J. Marshall ()
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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Wiki

Alice in Wonderland is a 2010 Tim Burton film staring Mia Wasikowska as Alice, Helena Bonham Carter as The Red Queen, Alan Rickman as the Caterpiller, Anne Hathaway as the White Queen and Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter.  It is slated for a March 5th 2010 release.

Tim Burton was born to bringAlice in Wonderlandto the big screen. Ironically, his version of the Victorian text plays more likeThe Wizard of Ozthan a Lewis Carroll adaptation. On the day of her engagement party, the 19-year-old Alice (a nicely understated Mia Wasikowska) is lead by a white-gloved rabbit to an alternate reality that looks strangely familiar--she's been dreaming about it since she was 6 years old. Stranded in a hall of doors, she sips from a potion that makes her shrink and nibbles on a cake that makes her grow. Once she gets the balance right, she walks through the door that leads her to Tweedledum and Tweedledee (Matt Lucas), the Dormouse (Barbara Windsor), the Blue Caterpillar (Alan Rickman), and the Cheshire Cat (a delightful Stephen Fry), who inform her that only she can free them from the wrath of the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter channeling Bette Davis) by slaying the Jabberwocky. To pull off the feat, she teams up with the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp in glam-rock garb), rebel bloodhound Bayard (Timothy Spall), and Red's sweet sister, the White Queen (Anne Hathaway in goth-rock makeup). While Red welcomes Alice with open arms, she plans an execution for the hat-maker when he ...
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Details

Director: Tim Burton
Genre: Action, Adventure
Release Date: March 5, 2010
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
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