Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Matt Lucas, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover, Michael Sheen, Stephen Fry
Written By: Linda Woolverton
Directed By: Tim Burton
Studio: Disney / Buena Vista
Buy On Amazon.com
Depending on who you ask, Tim Burton’s track record for remaking movies and franchises has been hit or miss. In my mind, it has been miss for the most part. Alice in Wonderland has its moments but ultimately, the movie’s only highlight is the special effects & the performances of the actors.
Alice in Wonderland takes places years after the original Disney movie. Alice Kingsleigh (Mia Wasikowska) is now 19 years old and is on the verge of being forced into a marriage with some ugly goober. While all that’s happening, she decides to chase a rabbit wearing coattails in the garden instead and falls into the rabbit hole. Alice ends up back in the world she first discovered as a child, but can’t seem to remember ever being there. She is welcomed by some familiar faces and they debate on if she’s “the right Alice” or not. The right Alice is destine to slay the Red Queen’s Jabberwocky. But things get interupted when the Knave of Hearts (Crispin Glover) and his card soldiers capture most of them. The Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) is informed of Alice’s return and begins to search out for her. Alice encounters the Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry) who leads her to The Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp). More talking and walking happens and more people get captured. Alice decides to go to the Red Queen’s castle and free everyone and make everything right in that weird land she fell into.
I could go on and on about the plot and what happens, but it’s tiresome to just have to talk about it. Let’s face it, the story sucked. That’s the film’s biggest negative. It just seems like a rehash of the original, and everything just seems dull within the story. You don’t really care what happens to the characters. The most obvious positive about the movie is the special effects and that Tim Burton look. The movie particularly looked great in 3D, and definitely excelled in that. But like with some other SFX heavy movies, you need a good story to give a crap about the movie (i.e. Star Wars prequels). Even if I don’t like every Tim Burton movie, I still love his style and the art direction. I saw some original sketches of Alice in Wonderland at the Museum of Modern Art exhibit featuring Burton’s work. It was one of the best art exhibits that I’ve seen. Very cool stuff!
The acting was good I thought. Johnny Depp played the Mad Hatter very wacky, almost portraying him as two characters since one minute he’d talk all sweet & loopy, then he’d get angry and go into a Scottish accent. It was the mercury in the hat that made him mad as a hatter and talk all weird. Some people didn’t realize that. His performance was far better than his portrayal of Willy Wonka. That character was just weird and too creepy. I liked Mia Wasikowska as Alice and thought she held the movie together nicely. But all the supporting actors were the highlight for me. Alan Rickman as Absolem the Caterpillar, Fry as Cheshire Cat, Matt Lucas as Tweedledum and Tweedledee, Anne Hathaway as The White Queen and especially Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen. Whenever Helena Bonham Carter came on screen, I couldn’t help but laugh at her performance because it was over the top and just funny. Seeing her have a tiny body, giant head helped. Anne Hathaway’s White Queen was hilarious too…believe it or not. She’d walk in elegance & grace, and then she would do subtle comedic things like hacking a loogie when she saw a dead body or something. It was subtle but I found it very funny. The performances didn’t seem wooden either, since they were filmed on green screens for the most part.
Since I don’t have a Blu-Ray player (still), I only got a chance to watch the DVD. The film looks decent on DVD and only has a few extras on the DVD. The Blu-Ray has a lot more special features and featurettes so I only got to see what was on the DVD. Each featurette is about 4-5 minutes long; some being longer than others. I liked the one on the Mad Hatter and the special effects stuff on how they did certain things. They showed you how they made Tweedledum and Tweedledee, The Red Queen and Mad Hatter. If you’re a special features junkie, get the Blu-Ray.
Alice in Wonderland won’t be liked by all, but some people might find more positives than negatives with the film. I thought the story could have been ten times better, then I probably would have given this a better rating. The performances and the special effects were great though. I’d rent this on Blu-Ray or DVD before buying.
Disc 1: Blu-ray
The Mad Hatter
The Red Queen
Time-Lapse: Sculpting The Red Queen
The White Queen
Stunts Of Wonderland
Making The Proper Size Cakes Of Wonderland
Tea Party Props
Disc 2: Standard DVD
The Mad Hatter
Includes Digital Copy Of Alice In Wonderland For Portable Media Players
Widescreen 1.78:1 Color
ENGLISH: Dolby Digital Stereo
ENGLISH: DTS-HD MA 5.1
SPANISH: Dolby Digital 5.1
FRENCH: Dolby Digital 5.1
English, Spanish, French
Bottom Line: Had potential to be great but the story is very weak.
Running Time: 109 mins