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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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These Adaptations Get Curiouser and Curiouser

  • Mar 5, 2010
It was only a matter of time before a director as visually inclined as Tim Burton would latch onto "Alice in Wonderland," quite possibly one of the most vivid and stirring fairy tales of the last century and a half. Indeed, it has given Burton whole new vistas to explore; never before has his imagination been so fully realized, so finely detailed, so delightfully eccentric. In some ways, he has been set free, the computer technologies of today's day and age having finally caught up with the vision in his mind's eye. He and his team have thoroughly created a world of phantasmagoric delights, a successful blend of live action, computer animation, and performance capture all distorted into wonderfully weird settings and characters. As an added bonus, all of this is presented in 3-D, which doesn't assault our eyes so much as envelope us, like a blanket.

The problem is that Burton insisted on creating a story. Despite the classic title, this is not an adaptation of Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" or "Through the Looking Glass." It's in fact, for lack of a better term, a third chapter, one that disregards Carroll's literary nonsense in favor of a generic Good vs. Evil fable. There are heroes and villains where none existed before. Alice, once just a curious little girl, is now conditioned to be a champion, which means she will go through a series of challenges before having to engage in a battle to the death. Most importantly, there's now a beginning-middle-and-end plot rather than a series of vignettes. All of this is done well, and it will play even better if a traditional story is what you crave.

But that's the thing - the story as Carroll intended it was NOT traditional. That's what made it so appealing, I think. Giving this movie a conventional storyline is sort of like providing an answer to the riddle of why a raven is like a writing desk. It takes the fun out of it.

In this version, Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is a nineteen year old young woman who, after having visited Wonderland thirteen years earlier, has been plagued by strange dreams. This is of no consequence to her family or friends, all Victorian in every sense of the word - prim, proper, and snooty. They only want her to find the right suitor, and lo and behold, they have arranged an engagement party for her and her intended, the hopelessly uptight Hamish Ascot (Leo Bill). But ... what's that off in the distance? Why, it's the White Rabbit! And he's nervously tapping on a pocket watch, as if to say he's late, he's late for a very important date. Alice uses this as an opportunity to flee, and in due time, she peers into a rabbit hole, loses her grip, and falls down, down, down.

In the blink of an eye, she finds herself in a locked chamber. The only way out is through a tiny door, the key of which rests on a very large table. After a few hits and misses with a shrinking "Drink Me" potion and an enlarging "Eat Me" cake, she unlocks the door and finds herself back in Underland. Really? Not Wonderland? No. Underland. Anyway, the citizens of this world desperately need Alice's help: The wicked, big-headed Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) has overthrown her sister, the overly dramatic White Queen (Anne Hathaway), and now rules Underland with an iron fist. If Alice can obtain a magical sword and slay the dreaded Jabberwock, everything will return to normal. Unfortunately, Alice doesn't remember ever having been here, nor does she remember the many colorful residents. As far as she's concerned, this is all a dream.

Naturally, every creature or person Alice meets is strange, if not altogether insane. To start with, there's the Mad Hatter, played by Burton regular Johnny Depp. As usual, he completely disappears into his role, letting the character emerge through inhuman eyes, deranged clown makeup, a mismatched wardrobe, and a voice that alternates between a foppish lisp and a William Wallace imitation. Why the different voices? Because he's mad, I guess. There's also Tweedledee and Tweedledum (both played by Matt Lucas), who look like a cross between Humpty Dumpty and Pugsley Addams. There's the sly, sneaky Cheshire Cat (voiced by Stephen Fry), who freely appears and disappears in a puff of smoke and lets his extra wide smile linger a moment or two more than necessary. There's the arrogant Knave of Hearts (Crispin Glover), the enigmatic Caterpillar (voiced by Alan Rickman), and the March Hare (voiced by Paul Whitehouse), who's absolutely off his rocker.

There are many things about "Alice in Wonderland" to praise. It's a stunning technical achievement, not only for the computer artists, but also for cinematographer Dariusz Wolski, production designer Robert Stromberg, and costume designer Colleen Atwood. The performances are decent; I particularly enjoyed Anne Hathaway, who plays the White Queen with the exaggerated poise of a Disney princess. But I have to admit, I was a little disappointed by the story. Tim Burton has taken two highly off-the-wall tales and forced them to be ordinary. I think part of the reason many of us grew up on Carroll's books is because they were anything but ordinary - all character, setting, and manipulation of logic. I can't speak for everyone, but for my money, I'd rather not know why a raven is like a writing desk.

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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 16, 2011
I was never really attached to the Disney film as a child, but I still have respect for it, and I still like it to this day. However, I like this movie just as much as the Disney film, even though it isn't spectacular by Disney or Tim Burton standards. Honestly, you'd think Tim Burton and Lewis Carroll would be a match made in heaven right? Well, it is and it isn't. This is one of five movies that I have seen in 3D and may I say this is the best use of 3D in the movies that I have seen …
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
Inside the El Capitan theater.
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.       …
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 15, 2011
Twenty years ago, Tim Burton's first four feature films cemented his reputation as a reliable creator of inspired, easily digestible filmic fantasies. His string of middling-to-awful pictures over the course of the past decade (the idiotic Planet of the Apes remake is surely the worst of the lot) have gradually eroded Burton's credibility and popularity, and this umpteenth adaptation of Lewis Carroll's nonsensical classic (do we really need yet another?) hardly indicates that he's …
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 …
About the reviewer
Chris Pandolfi ()
Ranked #5
Growing up a shy kid in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles, Chris Pandolfi knows all about the imagination. Pretend games were always the most fun for him, especially on the school playground; he and his … more
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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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