Alice in Wonderland Review

Published 4 years ago by , Updated February 10th, 2012 at 9:40 am,

Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland is a wonderfully spun tale that delves deeper into the fantasy aspect of the story than any of its predecessors; however, the use of 3D is distracting at best and horrible at worst.

alice in wonderland alice h Alice in Wonderland Review
Screen Rant’s Paul Young reviews Alice in Wonderland

Let me start by saying that I’m a big fan of almost everything that involves Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. Burton has a dark, almost “Poe” like story telling ability that I really enjoy – and I don’t think there is any actor alive today that can rival the ability Depp has in bringing a unique quality to each character he plays.

For this review first I’ll discuss the story of the film, and then I’ll address the use of 3D – and how it did or did not help the film.

For those that may not already know, this version of Alice in Wonderland is not the same as the animated story Disney produced in 1951, but it does use the same characters. In this version, we are introduced to Alice when she is only 6 and is having nightmares of a strange world filled with talking caterpillars, dodo birds and other strange beasts. Her father assures her it’s all just a dream.

Fast forward 14 years and little Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is all grown up and about to receive a marriage proposal from Hamish Ascot, who will eventually be Lord Ascot. That doesn’t matter to Alice, who is always daydreaming and wants more out of life than just status. The story takes a familiar twist at this point when Alice begins seeing a White Rabbit while walking through the garden with her future mother-in-law. Just as Hamish proposes to Alice in front of four or five dozen strangers, she gets distracted and takes off after the White Rabbit and inevitably falls down the rabbit hole.

After a visually interesting “Drink Me,” “Eat Me” scene, Alice is once again introduced to the world of Wonderland (or Underland as the Hatter tells us later). I say once again, because this is Alice’s second trip to the fantasy world although she has no recollection of it other than from her dreams. In Lewis Carroll’s sequel to Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass, Alice does meet the Red and White Queens but she is still a young child. What writer Linda Woolverton has done here is masterfully mix Carroll’s poems from both stories into an altogether different work of art.

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After falling through the hole, Alice meets the Tweedle brothers, the Dormouse, and the White Rabbit, who take her to meet Hans Gruber the Blue Caterpillar. They have doubts that she is the “real” Alice and hope the hookah smoking insect can shed some light on the truth. Alice firmly believes she is in a dream and therefore can not be the Alice they are waiting for. Their Alice is supposed to defeat the Jabberwocky, the Red Queen’s champion, and bring about Frabjous Day.

One problem, the Red Queen, played by the beautiful Helena Bonham Carter, has attacked her sister the White Queen, played oddly by Anne Hathaway, and killed her husband the Red King and now has (W)Underland completely under her fearsome rule. In fact, our first encounter with the Red Queen involves a frog, some missing tarts and the familiar phrase, “OFF WITH HIS HEAD!”

Carter is obviously having a lot of fun in her big-headed role and it shows. She’s compelling to watch the entire time she’s on screen but maybe that’s just because of her oversized noggin. The size of her head becomes a humorous center piece for a few sight gags later in the film.

Our Rating:

3.5 out of 5
(Very Good)

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TAGS: 3 star movies, alice in wonderland

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  1. Can't say i liked this, I loved the style but the characters fell flat for me. Depp was pretty good with what he had to work with, which wasn't much. It lacked almost completely the wit and flair of the stories and dialog and character exchanges were …well.. normal. Gone are the confusing plays on language and word usage and semantics that are the basis of the books, there's a vague pretense of insanity here but it's skin deep, characters are resolutely sane and coherent throughout. Not that I want to go down a 'the book was better route' i just thought the film took something very unique and standardized it. A tad depressing really. On the plus side, It looked beautiful.

  2. Awful… walked out 1/2 way through. I love dry humor and I love the Alice story and animated classic, but this was just terrible. Depp's acting was shallow, anemic; yes he's supposed to be mad, but come on, deliver the lines with a little punctuation, not like you're half asleep. The timing between the delivery of lines seemed off… like a band that can't find the climax of a phrase; over and over and over.

    The animated effects for Tweedledum and 'dee made the 2 look like they had been photoshopped in… very amature… the banter between them, again, seemed off and the tone not sarcastic enough.

    Alice seemed timid, confused, passive far too often as compared to her character in the original.

    I didn't like the music… the first 5 notes are the same pitches for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, so it imparted an Asian feel to me. Of course I didn't see the whole thing… I wanted to preserve what is left of LC's masterpiece. My greatest hope is that I'll wake up tomorrow and my having seen the movie will turn out to be just a dream that I'll eventually forget.

  3. I saw this at the premier at Downtown Disney in Orlando, FL. There were a ton of people dressed up as the key characters, which made the experience all the more better.

    I expected a tad bit more from this film, but needless to say it was visually stunning. It’s films like this that I like to hear Director commentary and just learn from it. This is an epic story with a huge weight on anyone that tries to adapt it. This wasn’t the first time and it wont be the last, it’ll be told again and again down the line. Can it be gotten “right” – I dont know. It’s already odd and off the charts, which is why I appreciate it and rate it a little higher than the norm. Perhaps its the sentiment.

    I rate it 3.5/5.

  4. Alice in wonderland was everything that I expected it to be, and more. Tim Burton took this movie to another level by having Alice take a step into her “dreams” she has had (about Wonderland) every night since she was six. When Alice realizes that she is not dreaming, she also comes to realize that the “dreams” she was having all along, were actually memories of a trip to Wonderland as a young child.
    I like how the Director (Tim Burton) researched Alice in Wonderland, before writing the script. He put a twist on the original Disney version, by introducing the White Queen, amongst other imaginative characters, but also included all of the original characters. The special effects of the movie were very stunning, giving you something spectacular to look at every second the movie is playing (total eye candy visuals). Johnny Depp’s character is spectacular, and I could not imagine this movie without him. He actually helped come up with the look they used for the Mad-Hatter. Tim Burton’s original sketch of the Mad-Hatter was actually alot more dark and sinister than Johnny Depps depiction of the character. After Depp introduced his sketch to Tim, he instantly knew that that was the look they were going to use for this character. I do not think that anyone else could have played such a perfect role as the Mad-Hatter!I give this movie 2 thumbs up, and 5 stars! Though I don’t know if this is a biased decision because I have always been the biggest fan of Alice in Wonderland. I am a 27 year old woman who has the Disney movie of Alice in Wonderland, the Disney collectors book of Alice in Wonderland, and now the twisted Tim Burton version! Even my e-mail starts with aliceinwonderland420@so&so.com. I know it, I’m obsessed! But truly, this movie is something else!

  5. Although I personally did not enjoy the movie that much, I can’t deny the fact that Tim Burton has done a good job in recreating the characters and owning them by giving them the “Tim Burton Touch”. I’ve always loved the grittiness and dark tones of Burton’s work. Overall, aesthetically speaking, the movie is visually stimulating but, yeah, I didn’t enjoy it that much.

  6. Tim Burton has done it once again! The Alice in Wonderland film is a masterpiece; from the special effects down to its exotic sets. The film also has a wonderful list of cast. Helena Bonham Carter was outstanding in her role as the Red Queen as well as Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter.

    Although, I disliked Alice’s and the White Queen’s make-up, I thought it was slightly overdone. The costumes on the other hand were creatively done and are fitted with the different characters’ personality. I’d like to comment about the music background of the film; having a great music background is important in keeping the viewers’ attention and I thought the entire music background did not fit the film. The sound effects did not keep us from our feet; it is barely felt nor heard. Despite that, the plot is well-structured and quiet unpredictable. The visual presentation brought us to Tim Burton’s version of Wonderland. Overall, the film was excellent and original. :) – SNZ

  7. alice in wonderland is the best film ever watched