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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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Looking Past The Looking Glass

  • Mar 6, 2010
  • by
One year for Chanukah when I was a little girl, my parents bought me a collection of "the classics". Most kids would probably have been disappointed, wishing instead for the new Barbie or video game, but I've always loved to read so I was ecstatic. One of the books in the set had both Through The Looking Glass and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland together under one cover, and it became one of my favorites. I escaped into the stories again and again over the years.

Needless to say, when I first heard Tim Burton was going to be doing an iteration of the Alice story I was beside myself. I thought he would be the perfect artist to take on the sometimes very dark elements that have been left out of most of the movies that have been made from the story thus far.

Last night I attended a viewing of the movie at the famous El Capitan theater in Hollywood. It was opening night and the excitement was palpable: people were dressed in costume and though we had pre-purchased our tickets, the lines were ridiculous. After we were finally allowed to make our way to our seats, 2 emcees walked up to the stage and a costume contest commenced. The theater itself was decorated beautifully with larger than life mushrooms and rose buds with lifelike faces staring out at the audience. (see pics)

When the lights dimmed, a prop that resembled a wrought iron gate of some sort lowered in front of the screen as the opening credits played. When the title appeared, confetti exploded into the theater and we all buzzed with anticipation. My expectations were high, but I didn't quite know what to expect. It's Burton, it could be anything. I settled into my seat wearing my actually-kinda-cool looking 3D glasses, ready to be blown away.

The movie was definitely stunning to watch. The 3D effects were worked beautifully into the set design, though they were at times a touch blurry. Unfortunately, as the story unfolded so did my disappointment.

One of my favorite aspects of Alice in Wonderland is the element of metaphor and philosophy. Some being easy to comprehend, others intentionally obscure. In Burton's film, I felt he took the classic pieces from the story and beat them to death in a horribly pedestrian way. You could base a drinking game off of how many times the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) asks Alice (Mia Wasikowska) why a raven is like a writing desk, and it wasn't really that clever at all. Another example would be the quote I am sure we all know from the story:

"Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast!"

This line was repeated by Alice to the point of exhaustion. In the scene towards the end of the film, where Alice is battling the Jabberwocky (dressed as some kind of take on Joan of Ark), she lists off six impossible things she has come to believe that she had previously thought were impossible, culminating in her defeat of the monster. It was just too... literal.

Is it that Burton insulted the audiences intelligence assuming they would be incapable of gathering the metaphor and mystery of the original story or that audiences are so dumbed down that they need things to be spelled out for them? Either way, it was lackluster.

I never felt an emotional attachment towards any of the characters. It wasn't so much the acting or the stunning set, as the story itself that left much to be desired. Though Johnny Depp seems to be getting the most play, newcomer Mia Wasikowska did a good job as Alice and Helena Bonham Carter shone as the Red Queen. Anne Hathaway as the White Queen felt like forced casting: where can we shove another big ticket name?

I've given the movie two stars for the impressive aesthetic and the overall theater going experience at El Capitan. I am disappointed in the final product, though, and sad that yet another opportunity for the movie industry to step it's game up was missed. I feel like the 3D boom of late is an attempt for the film industry to start filling seats in theaters again, but if the movie makers continue to underestimate the intelligence of it's audience and maintain their appeared fear of innovative imagination, I don't see things changing too drastically any time soon.
Inside the El Capitan theater. Inside the El Capitan theater. Inside the El Capitan theater.

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December 03, 2010
The movie itself was enthralling, but to read what others have to say and how "they" perceive an already multi-dimensionally visceral interpretation of logic within insanity (because that's my review),Now that's 3D!
March 18, 2010
this was an excellent movie and my daughter enjoyed seeing it in 3D. Nice job
March 09, 2010
Yikes, I do! And I warned him. But he really wants to see it anyway. Such is the power of marketing.
March 08, 2010
This is exactly how I felt about The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus (which Johnny Depp was also in)!  Stunning visuals, but the story and some of the casting are like "eh?".  Those pictures look really cool, though, and that's awesome that you got to experience this at the El Capitan theater.  Great review!
March 09, 2010
Thanks devora! ;P
March 08, 2010
Thanks! Guess I will lower my expectations. Do you think it would be too scary for children?
March 08, 2010
Hmm. How old are the kids? Under 6 or 7, possibly... though it would depend on your kid really!
March 08, 2010
Thank you,
March 08, 2010
I've got a 6 yr old? Too young?
March 09, 2010
There were very young children there the night I went and no one seemed to be upset by the movie. However, if you have a tyke prone to bad dreams: maybe not. :P
March 07, 2010
Great review and I certainly agree. Although I was very excited to see this movie, I was disappointed by the outcome. I loved the special effects (even though I didn't see it in 3D), but I never felt a connection to any of the characters and the plot didn't do much for me. Oh well.
March 08, 2010
The 3D was cool, yes, but I don't think you missed much by not seeing it that way... Thanks for your comment! :)
More Alice in Wonderland (2010 movi... reviews
review by . May 23, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
*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 …
review by . December 12, 2010
You'd think that Tim Burton and Alice in Wonderland would be a perfect combination right? I actually did like most of what Tim Burton did with the movie, seeing as I was never terribly attached to the Disney one in my childhood, but I can definitely see why fans of the original film may be disappointed.      First of all, I will start with the obvious. The visuals are really pretty and superfun to look at, especially in 3D. I have come to expect this from Tim's movies, …
review by . March 06, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Tim Burton's
                     There have been many adaptations and interpretations in the silver screen of the classic fairy tale. Not surprising since the story does occur in a fantastical world full of myth, fantasy and bizarre characters that just provokes the imagination. Quirky director Tim Burton now attempts to interpret the tale in this 2010 release of “ALICE IN WONDERLAND”; only this time, …
review by . March 06, 2010
Down The Rabbit Hole
Ever see a movie that you can't wait to get back from and tell everyone about? That's THIS movie. Avatar can make that claim for last year, but this one will be held in people's memories until 2011. I just got back from seeing it and I want to tell you all about it. Well, not everything, that's not my style, but if you're wondering if you should go to theater to catch this, I hope I can make you go the rest of the way.      I didn't know what to expect from this movie. I had …
review by . July 08, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
      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 …
review by . July 19, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
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
posted in Movie Hype
Typical Burton
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
posted in Movie Hype
Welcome to Tim Burton's Wonderland...
Once upon time in England there lived a young girl named Alice, Alice Kingsley  now Alice wasn't  like most girls her age  she was a little impetuous and curious. Therefore, one day while roaming around the woods young Alice wanders off into the woods and there she sees a small white rabbit in a waistcoat with a pocket watch, Alice, curious about the strange creature follows him up the hill to an old tree where the rabbit mysteriously vanishes. Alice looks around  for him and …
review by . June 07, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
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
I just went this past weekend with my sister and her boyfriend to see Tim Burtons 2010 version of Alice in Wonderland. I will admit that I went into this moive with ALOT of secptism. I am very familer with Tim Burtons works and I don't really think he has done anything all out amzing since The Nightmare Before Christmas.      So needless to say I went into this movie expecting another horrid spectical like Willy Wonka. By the end of the movie I found myslef eating my own …
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Alana Joy ()
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About this movie


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