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)

« 1 2»

Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:
TAGS: 3 star movies, alice in wonderland

65 Comments

Post a Comment

  1. My first 3D movie, and I kinda enjoyed it. CGI was really good, the 3D just ok… Have no idea what Johhny whispered to Alice at the end, or what he said for half of the movie…. My kids however loved it, and are huge Burton fans…. I thought alot was lacking, and would like an explanation of why Stain looked so horrible and stretched and just the worst CGI of the movie….. However, I'd give it a 4, the Burton touch was nicely dark and witty, except for the White Queen.

    Found this review to be pretty one sided and ruined some of the movies better scenes Paul……. I think would have been more appeasing to me if I didn't know what was coming…..a little TMI, IMHO….

    And that Tron preview friggin rocked…. definably a 3D to see, and even better if they shot it in 3D!

  2. The 3D was terrible! I took off my 3D glasses off 5 minutes in. I decided I'd rather watch it a little bit blurry than in horrendous 3D. The glasses made everything too dark too. I wasn't a big fan of the film itself either.

  3. I'll keep that in mind next time…sorry bud :)

  4. All I can say is that you need to get the new TRON Legacy trailer put up as soon as humanly possible. I literally thought about that movie for the entire Alice in Wonderland movie. Not that I thought Alice in Wonderland was bad, but TRON looks awesome

  5. Jessie,

    If you haven't seen it in 3D yet, make Avatar your first 3D experience. Of course after that everything else will have to clear a very high bar as far as the technology. :)

  6. Unfortunately my friends wanted to see it in 3D. So I had that unfortunate experience. The whole movie there were things that I wasn't sure if they were actually in 3D or if I just thought they were. Those glasses gave me an incredible headache.

    I saw “Avatar” in 2D and I think all that CGI was enough technology for me. I know that movies are moving onto bigger and more technical things, but there is an argument to be made for actual film and not digital, for 2D and not 3D, for simple instead of modern. But maybe that's just me…

  7. I expected more out of this movie. It wasn't as dark as I was hoping for a Tim Burton movie. Johnny Depp was a bit of a disappointment. I'm not sure if I missed something amonst the 3D headache I was experiencing, but why did he lapse into a pissed off William Wallace sometimes?

    If Alice is having the same nightmare for 13 years, why does it take her so long to remember Wonderland? There were too many gaps in the story: Alice and her father, Alice and Hatter, the Red Queen and the White Queen (did anybody else want a little more back story there?).

    Overall I liked it. It might take a second (2D) viewing to see if there were elements that I missed. I almost wished it would have been “The Wizard of Oz” like, where people from her real world were characters in Underland. You know how the handymen on the Gale farm were also Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion… that would have been an interesting turn of events.

  8. I, too, was not impressed by AiW. After Paul's glowing review, I expected to love it, and I did see it in 2D, but I thought it was only OK. I suppose it could be because it is a child's movie (although the Jabberwocky could scare some kids). My 31 year old daughter seemed to like it and so did my 23 year old daughter-in-law; of course, they think Johnny Depp can do no wrong so I dismiss them :-) .

    They didn't show the Tron trailer in the one I saw. Was it the same one Screen Rant showed here?

  9. I don't think it is?

  10. I loved this movie. The 3D was great in it too! I actually think he made better use of the 3D than Cameron did in “Avatar” since Disney movies use the good high quality glasses instead of the cheap plastic ones. It's also funny how Burton's AiW was based on a book and was STILL more original than “Avatar”. Tim Burton created his own world too and it actually consisted of characters I actually cared about. I loved Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter and I loved the Cheshire Cat as well! Also I thought the scenes before and after her trip to Underland were very funny too. Now I'm going to go Futterwacken vigorously…

  11. For the life of me I can't find the trailer, can anyone provide a link? I saw the 3D version, maybe they only showed the trailer in 3D?

    I wanted to like Depp, and I did until his little dance, but I just couldn't get into his performance. Did anyone notice the Hatter's eyes?

    Also, I wished that he had stuck to his sort of parallel angle that he kinda had at the end.

  12. I would like to mention, that a caterpillar is not an insect.

  13. This movie is horrible!!!
    It seems like a bad knock-off of Chronicles of Narnia, only not so entertaining.
    Tim Burton's vision has surely burned itself out.
    Johnny Depp was my favorite actor, a sure ticket purchase on his name alone. No more!
    They should BOTH lose a lot of cred due to this expensive debacle.
    The older Disney animated movie is vastly superior to this one.
    How could they be so blind?
    Did they really just want to grab the bucks?
    Alice is such a precious treasure but this feels like thieves have robbed the temple.
    I haven't stopped retching yet….

  14. This movie is horrible!!!
    It seems like a bad knock-off of Chronicles of Narnia, only not so entertaining.
    Tim Burton's vision has surely burned itself out.
    Johnny Depp was my favorite actor, a sure ticket purchase on his name alone. No more!
    They should BOTH lose a lot of cred due to this expensive debacle.
    The older Disney animated movie is vastly superior to this one.
    How could they be so blind?
    Did they really just want to grab the bucks?
    Alice is such a precious treasure but this feels like thieves have robbed the temple.
    I haven't stopped retching yet….

  15. SAVE YOUR MONEY!

  16. i agree with everything you say paul but give it a 3/5. Also i found the dance at the end quit funny because they are saying how good he is at the dance (the name is to hard to spell).

  17. Excelent Movie! I saw it ! You can watch it too online on
    http://etcmovie.blogspot.com/2010/03/alice-in-w
    It`s funny,has a lot of action and it`s in other words…PERFECT

  18. From what I've seen it looks like it's going to be another quirky Burton / Depp colabiration. Which I quite like, but it can be a little bit too wierd sometimes. On the whole the film looks good and I know Depp is gonna be awesome in it (as he always is), so can't wait to see it.

  19. This movie was HORRIBLE, thought it's making good money b/c of Tim Burton and Depp's reputations. The script/plot was lazy and almost non-existant. The character development was sketchy, rushed crap. The only people who should be proud of the work they did in this movie were the charcter and set designers. Everything else was crap

  20. I liked it. I don't think it would have been as good without the 3d. Also, it wasn't as dark as other Burton films. The buddy I saw it with is going to see it again with his kids.

    3.5 is a good call though.

  21. The 3D was terrible in this film. I was disappointed. I had hoped it would be like Avatar but it failed. I def recommend seeing it in 2d.

  22. Perfectly right about the “tumbling down the hole” scene – couldn't make any of it out and that was the part I was looking forward to the most!

    Also, Johnny Depp mumbled quite a lot through this – I don't know about anyone else, but there were times where I couldn't hear a word he was saying!

    Good film though. Wish I'd saw it in 2D now…

  23. I was interested in what you meant by “Poe” like story telling. I assumed you were referring to Edgar Allan Poe, except that his story telling is nothing like Tim Burton's. Tim Burton is dark, yes, but that would bring to mind a couple dozen people before Edgar Allan Poe, especially since dark is only true in the lighting or perhaps topic of Burton's movies. The mood is more whimsical. I guess I'm just confused as to why you would put the two together, or perhaps you just meant another 'Poe' and I am jumping to conclusions, and if that is the case then I apologize… I'll go look up other Poes.

  24. I'm interested in why you used the statement “'Poe' like story telling ability”. I assume you mean Edgar Allan Poe, except his story telling is nothing like Tim Burton's. I see that you referenced 'dark' but Burton movies are dark in lighting, and perhaps topic, only. Their mood is more whimsical which is strictly opposed to that of Poe's. I am not opposed to one or the other, but they are definitely not, in any way, similar that I can think of. Perhaps I am confused and you are referring to another 'Poe' that I am not aware of, if this is the case then I apologize… I'm going to go look up some other Poe's

  25. Perfectly right about the “tumbling down the hole” scene – couldn't make any of it out and that was the part I was looking forward to the most!

    Also, Johnny Depp mumbled quite a lot through this – I don't know about anyone else, but there were times where I couldn't hear a word he was saying!

    Good film though. Wish I'd saw it in 2D now…

  26. I was interested in what you meant by “Poe” like story telling. I assumed you were referring to Edgar Allan Poe, except that his story telling is nothing like Tim Burton's. Tim Burton is dark, yes, but that would bring to mind a couple dozen people before Edgar Allan Poe, especially since dark is only true in the lighting or perhaps topic of Burton's movies. The mood is more whimsical. I guess I'm just confused as to why you would put the two together, or perhaps you just meant another 'Poe' and I am jumping to conclusions, and if that is the case then I apologize… I'll go look up other Poes.

  27. repeat post…

  28. “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.”

    Which is why I would love to seem him play the Riddler…………

  29. Just went to see this movie in theatres yesterday and it was a great movie to watch. Filled with Special Effects and Make-up. I like Johnny Depp who ever played “The Mad Hatter” and thats an interesting choice for him to play this silly character from Alice in Wonderland. This movie is based on “Looking through the Glass” novel that Alice drinks from the potion bottle which makes her shrink smaller and she goes on a quest to see whats going on in Wonderland ? She follows the White Rabbitt where ever he goes ? In this movie she meets the White Queen and rescues the Mad Hatter from the Evil Red Queen and restores Wonderland back to life. This movie is similar to Disney's RETURN TO OZ (1985 film) on Fairuza Balk who played Dorothy who comes back to the Land of Oz and saves her friends from the evil Knome King and brings back Emerald City to life from the evil headless queen Mombi.

Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to Gravatar.com and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.


If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it.

Be Social, Follow Us!!