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4 reviews, 37 user ratings

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Alice in Wonderland (2010)
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by Mel Valentin

"Whatever you do, don't go into that rabbit-hole."
2 stars

Lewis Carroll’s 1865 children’s/fantasy novella, "Alice in Wonderland" has been adapted and re-adapted (and re-re-adapted) for stage, screen, and television more than twenty times (the earliest adaptation dates to 1951). Walt Disney adapted "Alice in Wonderland" as feature-length animated film in 1951. Now, more than a half a century later, a live-action/computer animated iteration arrives on 3D and IMAX screens thanks or, to be more accurate, no thanks to filmmaker Tim Burton ("Sweeney Todd," "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," "Big Fish," "Planet of the Apes," "Sleepy Hollow," "Mars Attacks!," "Ed Wood," "Batman Returns," "Edward Scissorhands," "Batman"), a hefty production budget, and a team of computer animators. Despite the best visual effects that money can buy, "Alice in Wonderland" isn't visually impressive (far from it, actually). It's also, unsurprisingly, narratively clichéd.

Collaborating with Linda Woolverton (The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast), Burton bookends Alice in Wonderland with scenes set in Victorian England as Alice Kingsleigh (Mia Wasikowska), now 19, openly chafes at the arranged marriage to Hamish (Leo Bill), the clumsy, unattractive, conformist, aristocratic heir to the Ascot name and fortunate. Without her late father, Charles (Marton Csokas), to guide her, a rebellious Alice runs away from her engagement party when spots the White Rabbit, dressed in jacket and carrying a watch, fleeing into a rabbit hole. And down, down, down Alice goes into the rabbit hole (again).

At the bottom of the rabbit hole, Alice finds a table with a key, a potion (“Drink Me”), and several doors to choose from. The key works on only one door, but it’s so small, Alice can’t get through. As in Lewis Carroll’s novella, the potion shrinks Alice down to six inches. She walks into Wonderland (actually Underland), a world crammed with bright colors and talking plants and animals. Spotted by a handful of Wonderland’s denizens, including Absalon (voiced by Alan Rickman), the talking, smoking caterpillar, Alice is told she’s THE Alice, back after 12 years in the real world. Alice doesn’t remember her earlier visit, but soon discovers the truth about Wonderland: the red-haired, bulbous headed Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter), runs Wonderland as a dictatorship, executing anyone who displeases her with the usual “off with his/her head.”

Taking a page (actually, the whole book) from Joseph Campbell’s seminal study in comparative mythology, Hero with a Thousand Faces (a.k.a., the “Hero’s Journey”), Alice learns she’s prophesized to fight and defeat the Red Queen’s champion, the dragon-like Jabberwocky. True to the Hero’s Journey, she rejects the call to action (as she does for another 80-90 minutes). An attack by Stayne – Knave of Hearts (head of Crispin Glover), the Red Queen’s chief enforcer, separates Alice from her new companions. Alice quickly finds a willing ally in the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp, in an orange fright wig, white-face, and green contact lenses). Less, far less, the character familiar to readers of Carroll’s novella, this Hatter feigns his madness to cover his opposition to the Red Queen’s rule and his participation in an underground resistance led by the White Queen (Anne Hathaway), the Red Queen’s benevolent younger sister and Wonderland’s rightful ruler.

Burton and Woolverton cherry pick characters and incidents from Carroll’s novella (and the sequel, Through the Looking Glass). Additional characters include Tweedledee / Tweedledum (Matt Lucas), the Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry), the aforementioned White Rabbit (Michael Sheen), the Dormouse (Barbara Windsor), the March Hare (Paul Whitehouse), and Bayard (Timothy Spall), a bloodhound in the Red Queen’s service. Their importance, however, varies, depending on what they can contribute to Alice’s heroic journey, one of the dullest, most uninspired, most derivative put on film since, well, every Harry Potter film and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The Mad Hatter gets more screen time than the other characters (an obviously beefed-up role for Depp), but he’s almost as superfluous. Depp’s shifting accents, meant to reflect the Hatter’s mercurial nature, don’t help either.

As dull, uninspired, and derivative as Alice’s journey to defeat the Red Queen and restore the White Queen’s presumably benevolent rule might be, it’s worsened by Burton and Woolverton’s decision to graft a girl-power/empowerment arc to Alice’s character. Alice doesn’t have a traditional character arc in Carroll’s work, she has a series of bizarre misadventures, each one more surreal than the last. That might have made for a “flat” (as opposed to “well-rounded”) character, but it also allowed readers to indulge in Carroll’s word play and world building. Paradoxically, Burton’s Alice is still passive, reacting and following rather than acting and leading (since she continually rejects the call to become the White Queen’s champion).

Setting aside whether Burton and Woolverton misunderstood and misinterpreted Carroll’s Alice, this new iteration overstuffs every frame with computer animated backgrounds, objects, and animals. The actors do what they can with the inherent limitations of working in front of greenscreens, but they often look pasted in to unfinished-looking, computer-animated surroundings. Some characters, like the Knave of Hearts and Tweedledee / Tweedledum, are a combination of CG bodies and live-action heads. Frankly, they look awful. It’s made all the worse when seen in 3D ("Alice in Wonderland" was converted from 2D to 3D in post-production). Burton didn’t design "Alice in Wonderland" for depth and, thus, an immersive experience, and it shows in every frame.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=19366&reviewer=402
originally posted: 03/05/10 04:00:00
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell entertaing &visonary 4 stars
6/13/13 Stephanie Grant Once again another masterpiece from the great mind of Tim Burton! 5 stars
10/18/11 Magic Absolutely dispiriting, the cast and crew's disinterest is palpable, especially Burton's. 2 stars
9/08/11 Nancy What a delightful movie. I love Johnny Depp's Mad Hatter 5 stars
5/15/11 stephen nettles Good 3 stars
10/27/10 daniel eastbrecht total waste of time. sterile and uninspired. 1 stars
8/16/10 Lenny Zane Depp should've stuck with likes of NICK OF TIME, Carter with likes of LADY JANE. 2 stars
8/13/10 art anne hathaway great as WHITE QUEEN,helena B.carter equaly GRANd as red queen. 3 stars
8/03/10 Dr.Lao Visually stunning but completely charm free. Wasikowska was just plain boring to watch. 2 stars
7/10/10 Charles Tatum A visual feast, surprising and never boring 5 stars
6/18/10 Sevarian Not a Burton masterpiece but quite enjoyable. 4 stars
6/01/10 Lacey M I love Johnny Dept & it was just a fun movie to watch. However could be better. 4 stars
5/31/10 User Name All of the wit and charm of the original has gone down the rabit hole. 2 stars
5/28/10 Melissa Great family show. Enjoyed the 3D at the theater 4 stars
5/17/10 millersxing Unlike most toothless fairy-tale interpretations, Burton channels the author's imagination. 5 stars
5/06/10 Lenny Zane (Cheshire Cat's about all to like about this.) WHY've they started editing comments, IF they'll retain likes of "Read This" below? 2 stars
5/05/10 Ruby Spinel Make Alice PC.Then put her on a slow boat to China.Too bad pertinence is likely accidental. 2 stars
5/03/10 John C. Lacking, uninspired. There was not much whimsical or delightfully peculiar. 3 stars
4/26/10 Gandydancer Those "enormous stone heads" were just heads, offed at the order of the Red Queen. 3 stars
4/23/10 Total Crap It wasn't great. Cliched like the others say. A rental. Wait for it. 2 stars
4/15/10 ally Don't agree w/ that bit about Wasikowska, to me she just frowned throughout the entire film 4 stars
4/11/10 Durwood This is the film for great effects, not that idiot Avatar fiasco! 4 stars
4/09/10 AC Dull as ditchwater, bad 3D 1 stars
3/28/10 ASS I hated it. Who had the idea to turn the Mad Hatter into Che Guevara? 1 stars
3/28/10 Pat Very accurate review, this movie needed a better script and editor 2 stars
3/27/10 Read This This review is bull - stop writing retard and go kill yourself. 5 stars
3/23/10 R.W.Welch Visually impressive. Okay storyline. C+ 3 stars
3/22/10 lynn I thoroughly enjoyed the movie! 5 stars
3/22/10 Sean Ross Fully agree with this review. Burton's version completely lacks the imagination of Carrol's 2 stars
3/21/10 Stanley Thai It's really worth the money to bring yourself in a magical world filled with wonder. 3 stars
3/21/10 Bean It was Fantastic! I don't get these reviews. Loved it! 5 stars
3/21/10 fred As the original story line it has many avenues.Reality and fiction for the mind. Dragon? 4 stars
3/19/10 brian Technically brilliant. Entertaining. Otherwise vapid; turns Mad Hatter into action hero?! 4 stars
3/11/10 Dawn Tallon The film was magnificent. Review is verbose diartribe.! 5 stars
3/08/10 James Buch Godawful. Turns a classic story into a cliched shitpile. 1 stars
3/07/10 Amy Lindon Unlike word of mouth working for Avatar - it will devastate Alice. 1 stars
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  05-Mar-2010 (PG)
  DVD: 01-Jun-2010

  05-Mar-2010 (PG)

  04-Mar-2010 (PG)
  DVD: 01-Jun-2010

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