Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Release date: March 5, 2010
Director: Tim Burton
Novel by: Lewis Carroll
Screenplay by: Linda Woolverton
Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover, Matt Lucas, Michael Sheen, Stephen Fry, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, Frances de la Tour, Imelda Staunton

Burton’s version of Alice in Wonderland tells the story of 19-year-old Alice (Mia Wasikowska) visiting Wonderland (or Underland, as they refer to it in the film) for the second time to liberate its people from the evil (but admittedly hilarious) Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter). Alice is joined by her revolutionary allies, the bipolar Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), the White Rabbit (voice of Michael Sheen), the freakish twins Tweedledee and Tweedledum (voice of Matt Lucas), the even freakier Cheshire Cat (voice of Stephen Fry) and all the other creatures that try to pull a coup in favor of the hippie-ish White Queen (Anne Hathaway).

What is more rocking than Burton’s style, who has taken the book’s illustrations and given it his own? Well, how about a rocking Mia Wasikowska in full-body knight armor battling a monster? Admit it, chicks don’t often get to slay anything – Miranda Otto (Eowyn on Lord of the Rings) comes to mind – and if they do get to slay things, they also get to be overly sexual or in love with someone, which Alice isn’t. Also, Disney doesn’t get a perfect record on the image they give girls, so having a heroine that is rocking without being exploitative is good in my book. I mean, Mulan comes to mind, but she did end up getting together with Shang and saying “no” to a once in a lifetime opportunity to work for the Emperor.

Feminism and Girl Power aside, Alice is filled with sincerely funny and scary moments, a lot of dark humor, and vibrant visuals to spare. Burton decides to take his human characters – that is Depp, Carter and Hathaway… or if you need a reminder, Wasikowska – and put them front and center instead of making his mostly-CG characters the center of attention, proving that you still need to bring good actors to get good performances.

As far as the 3D work on the film, it definitely could have been better. I would have liked a lot more POV shots while in Wonderland for it to be a more immersive experience. As it stands now, the film is a good watch in both 3D or 2D, which is bad considering the extra money. However, there were parts that worked a lot better if you thought of it as a pop-up book instead. A few of the scenes that stand out were the fall down the rabbit-hole, which includes a very brief but very effective POV shot of Alice (or us) falling, the scenes in the forest, and the final battle on the chessboard.

Someone needs to make a chess set of that, with the Red Queen and the Knave of Hearts as king and queen of the red pieces, and the White Queen with Alice as king and queen of the white pieces.

All in all, Alice might be an off-beat choice of family film, because it IS supposed to be Disney, but it’s a welcomed choice, nonetheless, where young girls get to save the day and follow the rhythm of their own beat, as cheesy as that sounds.

Rating: ★★★¾☆ 

amy

YAM Magazine editor, photographer, blogger, translator and part-time web designer. Film junkie, music junkie… and lately series (a.k.a. TV) junkie.

11 Responses

  1. Dan says:

    I really wasn’t a fan of Alice In Wonderland. I’d go as far to say it’s as bad as Planet of the Apes. The story really didn’t inspire me and apart from the potion to make Alice big and small when she firsts falls down the rabbit hall, it lacked the true nightmarish horror that I’ve always felt was at the centre of the original story. I also felt the visuals lacked imagination too. Just wasn’t a fan.

    • amy says:

      @Dan, have seen a lot of negative comments in regards of Alice… especially from friends who are English-speakers. Maybe it’s a cultural thing, but people here enjoyed it quite a bit.

      I’ve seen a lot of people that liked the Disney version that hated this one, and vice-versa. The lack of nightmarish horror could be because it was a Disney production, and I certainly thought it was freaky enough.

      Once the movie stated that Alice was a young woman visiting Wonderland for the 2nd time, my brain just separated it from the adaptation category. I think that was the problem for a lot of people… that it really wasn’t Alice in Wonderland.

      • Dan says:

        @amy, I think, for me, it wasn’t so much the explicit nature of any ‘horror’, it was the fact I’ve always found the original story to be quite frightening even in the guise of a children’s bedtime story. In the film, when Alice ends up taking the potion and can’t escape through the small door (something similar to the original story) it really creeped me out – a claustrophobic thing I suppose. But after that, the ‘scares’ were more cartoony and silly and didn’t have that same effect – the effect I’d call “nightmarish” I suppose.

  2. Camiele White says:

    I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed the film.

    A great deal of people may simply be sick of Tim Burton, hence the onslaught of negative commentary. His style is obvious and instantly identifiable; however, he manages to still push his paintbrush to capture the arc and crag of every object in his films. His understanding of visual landscape will always intrigue me.

    I also realise that many people may simply not like or appreciate Burton’s rendering of one of the darkest pieces of literature in history –which is completely fair. Though it’s more an original “fanfic” extension of the orignial story, I can see where people could completely reject the fantastical aspect as opposed to the thematic element of the original adaptation. However, I thought the approach was clever and, again, Burton’s rendering of the surroundings proved to be essential in expressing the maturity of Alice’s character (after all, she’s not 11-years old in this version; she’s 19).

    All in all, I was blown away with Alice in Wonderland –which was actually a concern after Charlie and the Choclate Factory, which I wasn’t really a big fan of (though it followed Dahl’s original text almost to perfection, it didn’t have the same depth as Mel Stuart’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory). Anyway, I’ve gotten long-winded…sorry :)

    • amy says:

      @Camiele White, RIGHT?

      I get a lock of flack for liking this one, and I just kept forgetting it was Alice in Wonderland and kept thinking “OMG, a girl is heading an army of angry creatures” lol

      I thought it was very empowering for girls.

      • Camiele White says:

        @amy, Indeed. I think where Tim got in trouble was actually naming it “Alice in Wonderland” when, in fact, it’s more “Alice Through the Looking Glass” –where Alice actually revists Wonderland. It’s the same thing with people who like an artist’s first album: they want that first album part 2. People were expecting something that they didn’t get, I think.

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