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.

alice in wonderland blue ca Alice in Wonderland Review

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. The 3D part is the part that I'm not looking forward too. Everything else about it looks great and makes me want to read it. No more 3D movies, please

  2. So your saying you only hang around for the credits? If that's the case I bet your no fun at the movies… ;-)

    Well it looks like I'll have to take the girls to see this one they've mentioned it every time we talk movies. Paul do you think real Alice fans would rate it a half star better if they went in to watch the 2-D version at the outset? Thanks for the review. A fine job of keeping whatever spoilers you put in the review easily avoidable without beating us over the head about it…

  3. So your saying you only hang around for the credits? If that's the case I bet your no fun at the movies… ;-)

    Well it looks like I'll have to take the girls to see this one they've mentioned it every time we talk movies. Paul do you think real Alice fans would rate it a half star better if they went in to watch the 2-D version at the outset? Thanks for the review. A fine job of keeping whatever spoilers you put in the review easily avoidable without beating us over the head about it…

  4. Yeah I actually would have made it 4 stars if I had seen it in 2D. The 3D was VERY off putting to me.

  5. To be honest, Avatar has been the only 3D film that has genuinely worked in my opinion and it took 20 years to get made.
    3D just doesnt work most of the time. And the extra cost to have your eyeballs assualted just isnt worth it.

  6. I was debating to see it in 3D Imax or the regular version. That settles it for me completely. Thanks. Some 3D can be done well after filming, like when they did Nightmare Before Christmas, the 3D in that is really good, but for the most part 3D is a waste and I am getting tired of it.

    I just finished the book a bit ago and being a huge fan of Depp/Burton, I gotta say the review excites me more. This movie seemed perfect for them. Glad I am taking tomorrow off so I can see it during the day.

  7. This review has me even more excited than I was before! I can't wait to see it. I'm still gonna try out the 3D though. 3D doesn't bother me, but I'm not going to see it because of that. I'm especially excited for Depp!

  8. This review has me even more excited than I was before! I can't wait to see it. I'm still gonna try out the 3D though. 3D doesn't bother me, but I'm not going to see it because of that. I'm especially excited for Depp!

  9. I'm still going to see this film in 3D. My opinion would be different if the Young wasn't opposed to Burton taking a different approach to 3D than Avatar even before seeing the film, so there's a loss of objectivity there that sounds more like fitting the film into a pre-defined mould than anything spontaneous. The wording of his 3D objections being almost verbatim to those he made in other articles before this review is the big indicator there for me.

    I can respect an opinion when it is reached naturally in it's own time, but a little less so when a mind has been made up about something from the get-go. I hate to say it, but that almost always results in circular logic when people do that.

    Beyond that, Burton has always been an acquired taste where a person either gets Burton or not, so I'm sure it's a solid example of Burton doing what he does.

  10. I agree DrSam. I was very apprehensive about Avatar for the 3D reason. But like ou said it is the ONLY one that has ever worked. As for “Alice” my daughter and I will be seeing it soon.

  11. To think that I was going to make this movie my first 3D experience! Now that definitely won't be happening!

    I wondered if this movie would be too Burton-esque… like he's playing to his genre. Did you get that sense at all Paul? Or is it classic Burton like “Edward Scissorhands?”

  12. Well, you just saved me 8 dollars. Why go watch the movie when I can just read the whole thing here. :)

  13. Well, you just saved me 8 dollars. Why go watch the movie when I can just read the whole thing here. :)

  14. Hey, if I had my way, I would never watch another film in 3D. It's not my cup of tea. I wear glasses already and putting another set on over mine makes it uncomfortable and the extra strain hurts my eyes. But even knowing all that I went in hoping that use of 3D would be subtle and not gimmicky. I don’t pre-judge a films use of 3D before seeing it. My mind is clear and ready for what ever they want to throw at me when I sit in that theater chair.

    In this case, they threw too much at me. It’s just my opinion though, go see for yourself. If you enjoy their use of 3D then great, glad you enjoyed the film. I’m not sure why AiW is getting so much bad press. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    I have no pre-conceived notions regarding the technology, just the way it is used.

    And I like Burton films, I stated so at the very beginning of the article. I like this film, if I would have watched it in 2D I would have given it 4 stars.

  15. No I don't think he plays to his genre….I think he IS his genre. I appreciate his darkness for what it is.

  16. Heh, sorry bud. Trust me, I left a LOT of inof out of this. There is a lot of information in the film and some great Lewis Carroll lines that most people will miss if they aren't really familiar with his work.

  17. I thought it was more of an empirical conclusion after all to look at one slide of a comma bacillus under a microscope is to be able to recognize any other slide with the same bacteria on it…

  18. Spend enough time on the net looking at different movie reviews and synopsis of them and no movie can escape that logic. ;-) Perhaps a friendly recommendation you and others could benefit from:

    http://www.amazon.com/How-Read-Book-Touchstone-

  19. Hmm, I dunno about this one. Seems Johnny Depps characters are getting more crazier by the minute.

    JJustin
    http://www.fbi-logging.at.tc

  20. This looks like it's going to be an awesome movie. I can't wait to see it.

  21. I LOVED it! saw it last night (yes in 3D) and I thought it was Brilliant
    the acting of all the leads was marvelous, as was the voice acting of the cgi characters. Funny, Dark at the same time and visually stunning. everything we know and love about tim burton.

    To be honest the 3D wasnt as bad as the reviewr makes out…mind you for me 3D doesnt make a film more or less enjoyable, its just there and doesnt change how good it is

    overall a great movie

    especially the cheshire cat :)

    now someone should make the american mcgee's version fo alice

  22. *I will say though that the 3D was gritty and nowhere near as good as avatar… but wasnt “bad” and once again didnt detract from the brilliance of the film

  23. Too each his own. We agree on the film itself though :)

  24. I probably could have worded my comment better without the harsh edges there. My apologies, Young.

    In reply, I definitely believe you're a fan of Burton's and that wasn't my rub. I've actually made a point not to read too much about the movie itself since he's pretty much a “you love him or you hate him” director–my guess for so many negative reviews–and actually only skimmed through reviews to see the take on the 3D.

    I'm not a fan of the process either, and, when I see Wonderland, it'll be the third 3D film of my life. First was Captain Eo at Epcot Center and second being Avatar. So, no love for the process. I'm just wondering, beyond how it might have lacked the eloquence of Avatar's use (not a fan of that film, but credit where credit's due), if Burton put his stamp on how 3D was used. That's my main reason for seeing it 3D: roughness aside, if Burton came through that extra dimension.

  25. Well, I guess that would depend on whether or not you consider Tim Burton your run-of-the-mill “comma bacillus,” to run with the analogy. I take him to be some mutation that is just a wee bit tweaked and changes everything. :)

    My main note about circular logic/reasoning is that most people, myself included, have a tendency at times to fall back on arguments that are largely self-referential. Kind of like reading a book where the author can only quote his/her previous books (main reason why I think a person only needs to read one John Maxwell book, if any). I usually don't arrive at “aha” moments then because I tend to hear more of the person than the point being made.

    That's just how I read Young's mentioning of the 3D since he'd talked about it the same way before reviewing the film. Maybe it's just it's hard to put one's finger on a point a person wants to make so it comes across as self-referential, but that's how it read to me.

  26. Do you feel like Burton put his stamp on the 3D, though? I'm just intrigued how he might have used it being Tim Burton, and if it ends up being an apples and oranges comparison with Avatar . . . mainly because James Cameron and Tim Burton, are, well . . . that.

  27. First off, wow that Tron trailer was awesome! It seems that they are adding some of the stuff they did in Kingdom Hearts II to the movie. Back on topic to Alice!

    Overall Alice was a 3 for me. The movie kinda lacked in dialogue, especially from Alice herself, and at other times the dialogue was so rushed that I couldn't understand what a character was saying. The story also moved at such a fast pace in the beginning that it didn't make much sense. I greatly enjoyed the vision of the world of Underland, if only I could take a flight there.

  28. can anyone explain why the the 2d version is pg and the 3d version is pg-13 ?

  29. I was very disappointed by this movie. I've had very high hopes for it since I first found out that it was being made, and I didn't really feel like it delivered. It kind of reminded me of Lord of the Rings on acid (and not in a good way), if that makes any sense. Also, in a rare turn of events, I found Johnny Depp's performance to be the most disappointing part of the movie. It just came across as a hybrid of Jack Sparrow and Willy Wonka. He usually brings fresh life to his characters, and, as eccentric as they usually are, they almost never resemble each other.

    That's all just my opinion, though. There was a lot that I liked about the movie, but I still found it disappointing overall.

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