Alice in Wonderland (2010) Poster

(I) (2010)

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Maybe the formula needs invigorating...
doibhlin3 March 2010
I attended the Cast and Crew screening on Sunday, in Leicester Square, with high hopes for this film as it's without doubt the most exciting job I've had. This was my first feature experience, and working for Tim Burton was a hell of a way to start.

But, even as someone with a lot of time for his films, and a pre-existing bias, I couldn't really connect with this. The cast acquit themselves well, especially considering the noted difficulty in emoting to a tennis ball on a stick, but all their tics and quirks seem to be masking a void at the centre of what should be a free-floating, evocative trip. Sure, it's weird looking, but we've seen it before, and back then in films like Edward Scissorhands it had a sense of purpose. Now we're left exploring a CGI wonderland that seems to be without a great deal of wonder. The book revels in its bizarre environs, absurd dialogue and whimsical characters. This film grounds them, drains them of that mystery and leaves us with a colourful but forgettable retread. It seems intent on driving us to a narrative conclusion that few people will have had much stake in through its running time, simply because we're not giving much to care for.

With a source material so familiar, even to those whose knowledge is second hand references, there needs to be a degree of innovation (as in Svenkmejer's dark stop-motion version, or the co-opting of Terry Gilliam in to his "Tideland" narrative), or else a studious and inspired adaptation that completely returns to Lewis Carroll. What we end up with is a mid-point that fails to get to grips with what enchants people about the Alice story, and another chance to see a beautiful waif walk around twisted, quasi-Gothic landscapes to a score by Danny Elfman.

Not that this isn't an enjoyable experience in itself, and as seen in the vast Screen 1 at the Empire it is at times breathtakingly pretty. It's just inessential, and while it may be unfair to expect a classic from a favoured filmmaker every time out, when they tackle something with the pedigree and history of Alice In Wonderland you can't help but hope for something special. And that's the problem, that Tim Burton, while he is still making decent films, has been a long way off special for some time now.

6/10 (if they gave half stars it'd be 6.5), but that doesn't mean it's a bad film. It's possible that my grade is affected by high expectations and lost potential. If you have kids, I'm sure it'll be better than 90% of the dross that passes for family films now. At least there is some artistry involved, and while he might not be at his best I'll still always pay to see a Tim Burton film (although I got this one for free...)
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Alice doesn't live here anymore
sschimel14 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I am shocked by both this movie and my visceral reaction to it. Unlike Avatar, which used the 3D technology as an integral part of the movie, 3D adds nothing to this movie. And frankly, the glasses darken the screen so much that the already dimmed image (thanks to projectors that aren't as bright as they used to be) was pretty bland.

Let me state for the record, for anyone who doesn't know, the movie conflates the two books, and adds in Jabberwocky for the hell of it. And back story (19 year old Alice is about to marry the wrong man (she was too old for Lewis Carroll). The Queen of Hearts becomes the Red Queen. And the Knaves of Hearts become a cross between the clone robots for Star Wars:Clone Wars and sow bugs.

1. A bland, blond, Victorian Dorothy Gale lives in Kansas, er, England, and is about to marry a prig. She has recurring nightmares about Oz, er, Wonderland, er, Underland, and falls down the rabbit hole. Unlike The Wizard of Oz, there is really no sense of wonder when she opens the door from her black and white existence (filmed in color, which ruins the supposed effect) to Wonderland. Nor does Alice exhibit and curiosity or joy at being in Wonderland. The actress registers no emotion about anything.

2. Johnny Depp used to be a wonderful actor in quirky films. His movies now resemble the parodies that Carol Burnett used to do on her show. (Sweeney Todd being the exception). He has now ruined to wonderful movies, with a lot of help from Tim Burton: Charlie And The Chocolate Factory was excruciating in its twee-ness. And as with Alice, added too much back story and robbed the original Roald Dahl's original book of both its charm and character, while only emphasizing how amazing the original movie was. This movie adds all of the current techno bells and whistles and still can't compare to Disney's own animated version.

3. Tim Burton used to make interesting movies about interesting people with interesting actors: Ed Wood, Edward Scissorhands (what happened to that Johnny Depp?) More Sweeney, less fantasy, please.

4. Why do Anne Hathaway's arms not straighten? What's up with that?

EVerything that makes Lewis Carroll Lewis Carroll has been leached out of this movie.
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some stunning visuals, clumsy writing
ericpendley5 March 2010
It is still worth the high price of the 3-D admission to see some of the amazing animation and design, but the writing is extremely boring and clumsy, and the performances cannot save it. Too many liberties were taken with the originals here, and in no way improve upon them, it only barely resembles either of Carroll's books in theme and some specific scenes. There are some "Disney moments" that literally set off a gag reflex as well.

The animation is quite stunning and wonderful though, as is the costuming and set design (in so much as there were sets and not just green screens, I'm sure SOME actual props were used). There are some clever elements that owe only to good visual design and direction I'm sure, as the only other clever bits in the dialogue were the parts directly lifted from the originals.
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Treading water in Wonderland
Red-Barracuda22 March 2010
Sometimes I think that I should like Tim Burton movies more than I do. Don't get me wrong, the man has made some excellent films, such as the masterful Ed Wood. But all too often, despite an agreeable tendency towards visual flamboyance, I leave his films feeling somewhat underwhelmed. Alice in Wonderland is a case in point. It's a movie where CGI effects rule the day. But the trouble is that the true weirdness that is at the heart of this story is not captured at all with all the computer-generated imagery on-screen. Sure it's very efficient and well-designed but like CGI in general, it's far too polished to really strike a chord and convince. There is a distinct lack of wonder in this Wonderland. The otherworldly weirdness is dissipated too by the use of overly-familiar voices to give life to the various denizens of this world, we are left thinking 'Oh that's Stephen Fry, hey isn't that Alan Rickman, I'm sure that's Christopher Lee and isn't that the bloke from Little Britain, etc'. It consistently takes us out of the movie and grounds the characters in a way that is just counter-productive. We want weirdness from an Alice in Wonderland film, not slick CGI and famous voice-over actors.

There is also a dangerously cosy predictability at play here too. Tim Burton, Johnny Depp, Danny Elfman – they say familiarity breeds contempt, well that's a bit strong but it IS seriously lacking in surprises and you cannot help think that all three individually talented men could do with taking a break from each other for the good of their careers. Depp's Mad Hatter is pretty uninspired by his standards, while Burton's visuals and Elfman's music are nice but ultimately completely forgettable. I found it very difficult to care for any of the characters in this film, and that is never a good thing. It also meant that the conclusion came across as deeply trite, as we have been given nothing to empathize with. We don't know or have any interest in these characters, so when Alice goes around her extended family one by one imparting her new knowledge onto them, it means nothing. It also doesn't help that the journey to Wonderland has made absolutely no difference at all to the title character's state of mind – at the beginning she does not want to get married to the upper-class chump and at the end she does not want to get married to the upper-class chump. So you are left wondering what exactly was the point?

I saw this in 3D and if there is one thing that this film has taught me it's that I am done with this 'new and improved' technology. I sensed it was a gimmick even before I watched Avatar; now I am certain. A bad film is a bad film, and no amount of extra visual depth is going to change that one iota. It's all surface-veneer, and really that's this movie's ultimate problem, there is nothing of interest within the CGI/3D. A great shame, as the source material is undeniably compelling.

I realize that I am almost done here but I have not even mentioned the worst thing about the film. What was it? It was when the Mad Hatter and then, subsequently, Alice do a truly cringe-worthy little dance near the end of the film. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I half-expected Britain's Got Talent winners Diversity to pop up in a cameo appearance at this stage and join in with some urban street dancing manoeuvres. That didn't happen. And that is, at least, one saving grace.
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Tacky Bombast - Silly Script - Waste of Talent
SeriousMovieCritic6 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Here is a tale of two Lewises. One wrote a small but great children's book that still delights, surprises and enchants. The other wrote a large, artistic series of children's books that push Christian sermons at us in the guise of adventure fantasy. The first author, Lewis Carroll, wrote Alice in Wonderland. The second, CS Lewis, wrote the Narnia saga. Here is what happened – in my theory – when the light bulb went on above the head of Linda Woolverton, who wrote the original screenplay for the new Alice in Wonderland.

"What if we turn Wonderland into Narnia? What if an older Alice revisits her dream world, now called Underland, and discovers a giant battle in progress between good and evil? We could have a Red Queen's army fighting a White Queen's, a Mad Hatter as saintly mediator, and a lot of Armageddon spectacle sure to bring in the youngsters and spawn a video game."

Thus is Hell born. You cannot believe the dreadfulness of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland – gifted director takes on gaga script – until you see it. Enchantment has gone that-away. Once down the rabbit hole Alice, played with brave but doomed grace by Australian actress Mia Wasikowska, discovers that her old chums all walk a darkening land bearing Tolkienish/Lewisite names. The dormouse is Mallymkun, the Cheshire cat Chessur, the caterpillar Absolem. Soon the throng is joined by dragons who seem to have come from Avatar. The tea party has 10 seconds to flatter us with incipient charm – its chaotic table and moth-eaten March Hare suggest a Samuel Beckett revamp (that would be a good spin) – before it too is sacrificed to sword, sorcery and showdown. Johnny Depp's Mad Hatter shows promise for a little longer – this actor does deranged innocence better than anyone (Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood) – but finally he too drowns in the Sea of Tacky Bombast.
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What happened to Tim Burton?
Chiyonosake2329 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Oh...the irony of it. As probably many know, Tim Burton started as an employee of Disney. But his work was considered too frightening and surreal, and soon he was fired. Now this movie marked his return. This alone should tell the story. Face it, we never liked Tim Burton for his amazing skill to write dialogues, for the deep characters he create because (not counting Edward Scissorhand) there were none. We liked him because he was a big kid, with a fascinating, dark, twisted imagination. He had style and creativity. Now the kid is all grown up and became a money-hungry prostitute. Sad and harsh. But true. Sweeney Todd was the first sign and this....this piece of...

By the way i really had enough of Disney too, they "evolved" completely into a regrettable monstrosity. Poor Lewis Carroll. And poor other artists you ripped off to make ridicoulus amount of money lately. You really have no shame left? When it comes to nowadays Disney i always imagine a scene from an average high-school movie. You know where the strong and dumb jock terrorises the nerd and when the nerd asks why, he says: because i can, you cant stop me. Yes congratulation Disney, a dead artist really cant stop you from completely destroying, ruining, nullifying his work. You really have no shame left? Sadly the answer is pretty clear.

The only decent scene was the one with the execution. The other were only eye-candy without any hint of meaning or depth. Oh and congratulation for one more thing, you even managed to completely ruin even the ending credits with that ear-raping dumb teenage-pop-rock whatever piece of trash song too. Its not everyday when a bitter and sour cake is topped so nicely with such a disgusting topping, you really done something extraordenary, but at least it was fitting. Tim Burton will never read this sadly, but for what it worth, i admired his work, now i officially turn my back on everything he creates and let the little goths drool about it, they are still young they might grow out of it someday too.
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Nothing Wonderful
Sniper0055334 March 2010
Adding a little bit of a background story and a few more characters to Alice's adventures didn't do as much as i thought it would for the story. Truthfully i wanted to love this movie, I'm a huge Tim Burton/ Johnny Depp fan. But this just didn't do it for me. I came out of the theater wondering if it were just the mediocre script or the director who had failed to meet my expectations. The best part of this movie is probably Johnny Depps portrayal of the mad hatter who truly is mad. However, Mia Wasikowska presents Alice in a dull manner that had me checking my watch every ten or fifteen minutes. Overall this film isn't awful, but at the same time its no masterpiece, for an interesting film to look at I suppose this would be an alright choice, however if you want a great story and compelling acting, you might want to check out something else, because this isn't the movie you're looking for.
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Jabberwocky is a PARODY of heroic epics and you dolts took it SERIOUSLY.
sibelian10 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
You dolts took a meandering, plot less masterpiece and turned it in all seriousness into a soul-less CGI dirge with the same plot that it's source was LAUGHING AT.

The Jabberwock is not a dragon. The Jabberwock is the IDEA of a dragon. It wears spats and a waistcoat you DOLTS.

The Queen of Hearts never ACTUALLY chops anyone's head off, the Gryphon SAYS SO. There is nothing oppressive or dangerous in Wonderland. Wonderland doesn't make enough SENSE for anything to be dangerous.

Where WAS the Gryphon? Where was the Mock Turtle? Where was Bill the Newt? Where was the trial of the Knave of Hearts? Come to that, where were the Mad Hatter, the March Hare and the Dormouse? The Dormouse is a sleepy fat thing that likes treacle, not Reepicheep.

Where was the Duchess? Where was the Duchess's cook? Why does everybody make such a big deal out of the Cheshire Cat and the Caterpillar? They're among the least significant characters in the book!

Who's this bandersnatch? What's the Jabberwock doing in it at ALL? The Jabberwock's a work of fiction even on the other side of the looking glass!

What's all this faux-sinister creeping about with wounds and murky skies and burning buildings and severed heads?

You DOLTS. Don't you remember the ending? The oppressive queen, the insulting know-it-all tea-party guests, the bewildering fluctuation in one's own sense of self-importance almost like growing and shrinking, the unhelpful people, the stupid people, the bad-tempered people, yes, and even the hero waving his little magic sword at the scary dragon in a waistcoat and spats, what does Alice say to them? "Who cares for you? You're nothing but a pack of cards!" Your story-telling has regressed to the shuffling of tropes that children were laughing at over a century ago.

Did you even READ the book?
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Tim Burton in Johnny Depp-Land
eraser_head200127 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I had high expectations for this film, as well as everyone else, but I didn't think it would be another Burton flop. The 3-D was just a last-minute money gimmick; there was nothing jumping out or anything exciting as one would expect with 3-D. On to the movie, it was your typical Burton film, the over-usage of Johnny Depp and Helena Carter, though Alan Rickman is in it, I enjoy his acting, not so much JD or HC's. Also, the way Burton changes the story somewhat bothered me; the Alice-defeating-the-Jabborwocky (misspelled, I know) just ruined the main idea of being in Wonderland, which wasn't even CALLED Wonderland throughout the film. The use of pigs was another thing that caught me by surprise; Burton must've had some of the caterpillar's smoke when he put that part in the film. Tim Burton has disappointment many fans, including myself and I hope that he doesn't create another monstrosity like this, hopefully not Wizard of Oz.

I give it 2 stars for the poor remastering of a storybook classic.
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A truly remarkable failure.
walsh_bgd18 August 2010
It is amazing that they managed to make a remake that is worse than the original IN EVERY ASPECT.

This film looks like a B movie, the animation, styling and scenery are flawlessly default and most of the movie visuals looks like the designers downloaded a pack of 3D stock models and colored them a bit. If you watch a showreel of almost ANY decent animation studio you will see much better and creative stuff than this.

The direction is ridiculously non-interesting, some short shots are just plain stupid and I have no idea HOW is THIS possible in this budget. There is no rhythm, there are just a bunch of scenes with a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Sound editing is retarded with voices overlapping each other, atmospheric sounds are sometimes loud and sometimes non-existent. At the scene where the Mad Hatter gives a speech and makes a riot in Queen's castle the cheering crowd sound behind his speech is AWFUL! You can download better crowd samples FOR FREE.

Music sounds like a bunch of sampled "ooouuuooo" shitty, spooky loops of crappy classical music in a default Burton way. Acting is WHATEVER and seems like everything was written and shot in 5 days. The voice dubbing of 3D models is worse than the earliest works of Dreamworks.

There is no drama, there is no crescendo, there is no playfulness that makes Alice in WONDERLAND such a powerful story. There is not a shred of IMAGINATION here. I mean, even the opening credits look like they were done in 1 hour. To top it all, the song in the ending credits CANNOT be more cheap and that pathetic attempt of the final "DANCE" - some miserable version of a popping' breakdance is disgusting and is on the level of The Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers.

Even on a "woman becoming a powerful individual" symbolism level the movie as bland as POSSIBLE.

Holy ****, this movie is a humongous piece of an even more gigantic, moronic, generic feces that Hollywood is happily sitting in. Join the feast.
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