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I know that a lot of people were a bit dubious when it was announced that Tim Burton was directing a new version of Alice in Wonderland with it being a favourite classic amongst many but I was ecstatic. Alice in Wonderland is my favourite books and Tim Burton my favourite director so it couldn't have been better in my eyes. Of course I knew that it was going to probably be wacky, confusing and dark like many of Burtons films and a lot of people didn't like this but I feel that Burton has breathed life back into the classic tale of Alice in Wonderland and gave it his own unique and modern twist.
The film starts with Alice as a six year old having strange dreams featuring odd characters, the film then fast forwards fourteen years and Alice is about to be proposed to by Hamish Ascot. At the engagement party she escapes the crowd and falls down a rabbit hole. Arriving in a strange place called 'Underland' she finds herself in a world like the nightmares she had as a child, filled with talking creatures. Alice realises that she is there for a reason, to defeat the Jabberwocky and restore the rightful Queen to her throne.
The casting for this film is absolute genius, as always and as is the norm now Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter appear as main characters. Depp as the Mad Hatter, bringing him to life and playing all of his quirky traits brilliantly and making him a loveable character and Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen, again the perfect character for her personality and played beautifully. Mia Wasikowsa plays Alice and at times I thought her performance was a bit flat and could have been better but nevertheless she does make a good Alice.
CGI plays a big part in the film with the Cheshire Cat, Dormouse, March Hare and many other characters being CGI, these look realistic whilst still keeping a cartoony, mystical edge to them. The scenery is typical for Burton's films and is gothic, vibrant and simply capturing. Even the costumes have a gothic, Burton touch to them and although in keeping with the original Alice in Wonderland characters have a modern twist to them.
The film retains the classic Alice in Wonderland features such as the rabbit hole, the 'eat me' and 'drink me' and the Queen shouting 'OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!' but brings in a lot of new quirks which you spot as you watch the film.
Although I'm obviously biased, I believe that this is a really strong and modern twist on a classic tale and hopefully will make the legacy of Alice in Wonderland and Lewis Carroll live for a fair few more years.
So Why is a Raven like a writing desk? Well, not a sausage but what I do know is Johnny Depp is undoutbedly doing his repetitive acting (again) and using his techniques from his character (Jack Sparrow) from Pirates of the Carribean and I must say -IT'S WORKED! As well as having a good appearance thanks to those who did his erm... hair and make-up his acting is truely amazing. Typically, Tim Burton has also used his wife... Yet again! How many films must he ruin with such a rubbish actress? I have to admit she has improved but it's bringing the rating down on the films in which she's in and, let's be honest there is a more than obvious reason as to why she is in Alice in Wonderland and other films directed by Tim Burton such as the new Sweeney Todd from 2008 which Johnny Depp also played part as the Character of Sweeney.
In this film you are questioning yourself as to what relevance this film has to do with the original Alice in Wonderland. In fact, it took me until nearly the end of the film to actually realise that this film is not just Disney's new - updated - version of Alice in Wonderland but it is also a sequal to the original. Hopefully they will re-make the original to suit this one!
The story was at first confusing, which considering I presumed that this would be a non-animated version of the Oringinal Alice in Wonderland, but then when you realise toward the end - the twist - that Alice was told that this "Wonderland" was just a dream well it's plausable and after all Tim Burton didn't create a completely different storey did he? If you watch the original you will realise - just how the new version narrates the similarities - that the film copies quite a few things such as Alice noticing the Late White Rabbit or falling down the whole or even having a trial for the Queen of Hearts to thunder "OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!". Alice reinvents herself with having to search who she is or was and she recreates her imagination with thinking of six impossible things to happen just like how her father used to.
The special effects were evidently CGI but they worked wonders as they seemed nearly realistic but not quite as realistic as Steven Speilburg's Jurassic Park Dinosaurs. Naturally, being that Tim Burton is a well known Goth he has his own special kind of scenary which was blatent. He uses vibrant but dull colours such as greys and blacks mixed with pale baby blue and vibrant shades of red as well as a bright orange and pinkish colours. I'm not complaining these colours went very well together and made some of the characters such as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum look like something out of the Adams Family - like Uncle Vesta.
Tim Burton uses the same kind of colour schemes as he has done with other films that he has directed such as Sweeney Todd, Corpse Bride and the Nightmare Beofre Christmas. This makes it completely obvious that they are his films with the use of colour but he has also designed the characters like the Tweedles to similar characters from his other films like in Nightmare Before Christmas. He also uses the original alice in wonderland characters as a basis for his design and turns them into his own character designs. He edivently used some of his own innovation to create other kinds of looks such as the enlarged features.
The Soundtrack COULD have been a lot better. Tim actually let Alice in Wonderland down with the soundtrack by making it "typical" whereas you would expect something completely new and original to suit everything else that he does but it just wasn't. However, the music wasn't terrible and it did suit the scenes of the film - it was just not exactly his own.
Tim Burton has done better jobs with other films by him but saying that Tim Burton was recreating an already written Disney film. His other Disney film -The Nightmare Before Christmas - was the first and only clay animation so far and has worked wonders and that was completely original but that could also be because to some degree it's a musical and the songs suited the film as well as the characters and the theme of the film itself which makes it so original and unforgettable.
At the moment it's still going to be on the charts so if you want to wait until after christmas then it would be advisable or if you can get a discount then do so, I loved this film but I wouldn't be caught paying more than £8 for this film as it's not something that was completely and 100% Tim Burton as it was originally somebody elses story and his wife was playing as the Queen of Hearts.
Overall, in my opinion Tim Burton has definitely took this film to the next level and it's not just an enjoyable film for the whole family to watch it shows a great sense of scenary and a great story behind the acting.
You may also find this review on my Ciao account under Cherilyn92
This version of Alice in Wonderland is definitely one of the most interesting and curious versions I have seen in my young life. The acting, colors, and special effects are spectacular. I found myself so convinced that it was hard to remember it was just a motion picture. I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed watching the great Johnny Depp performing as the Mad Hatter, a very difficult role that Depp succeeds in by making it his own.
Having that said, I did find myself a bit bored. This was because although the film did have a plethora of different things and people to observe, its plot was very slow to develop. I suppose it's not very easy to introduce an audience to such material. However, I still believe the plot could have developed in action much quicker than it did, which may have allowed for it to be an even greater success.
Watching Tim Burton's interpretation of this classic story is something that I found very particular. I did find myself drawn in by the performances and the aesthetic beauty of the film's scenery and costumes. If you enjoy watching Tim Burton films, you will love this version of Alice in Wonderland. It is by far one of Burton's greatest cinematic masterpieces.
Normally when I hear that Tim Burton is involved in a new film I am pretty keen to see it, however when I heard of his involvement in Alice in wonderland I wasn't really sure what to expect. I've previously seen and enjoyed just about every film he has made and so I was interested but have to admit it wasn't high on my priority to watch list. The fact that his usual collaborators Johnny Depp and his wife Helena Bonham Carter were both going to be staring I knew it would be worth watching, so when it came through the door from Lovefilm I was very keen to sit down and watch it as soon as it arrived, which is exactly what we did last night.
Through The Rabbit Hole
As a child Alice suffers from nightmares, despite her dad's reassurances she still sees the same strange things night after night. Fast forward 12 years and at 19 Alice is on the verge of becoming a woman. Her father is dead and she has just been proposed to. That's when her attention is caught by a Rabbit in a waist coat and needing a minute to think she runs after it, eventually falling through a rabbit hole and ending up in Underland. Now Alice has returned to a land she has forgotten and must help the good people of Underland to defeat the Red Queen and restore the White Queen as ruler of Underland by defeating the Jabberwocky on the Frabjous Day.
From the moment Alice falls into Underland you can see that this is going to be another Tim Burton masterpiece. It felt a little slow and unsure in the opening scenes but as soon as Alice comes face to face with TwiddleDum and Tweedledee you can tell that this is another superb film from Burton. The story, whilst stretched a little isn't quite true to Lewis Carroll's original in so much that the plot makes sense but what Burton and writer Linda Woolverton have accomplished is making a film that works. The plot tells the story but in any other film would probably have been pretty weak but with Burton's vision and abilities it really is an aside to the visual effect of the movie.
It's like he combines the best elements of his previous animation work such as the Corpse Bride and mixes it with the better parts of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. The world of Underland looks outstanding, but is in fact eclipsed by the look of the animated characters. In each character and scene he has taken the time to get it looking perfect and having watched it in Blu ray the colouring, definition and the general effect of the film blows you away. When you look at the detail that creates the Jabberwocky or the stunning Cheshire Cat you can see the level of detail and effort that went into making this movie work.
As usual it seems that the Burton and Depp combination has paid off again. Casting his friend and regular star in the role of the Mad Hatter was a stroke of genius. I thought that Depp brings something of his previous roles with Burton to the character and mixes it perfectly with the twitches of Captain Jack Sparrow. His performance as usual is faultless and with the look of the Mad Hatter it's another role he seems like he was born to play. With Burton's wife Helena Bonham Carter really trying to steal the show as the Red Queen as well the pair as usual in a Tim Burton film work really well together.
It's the rest of the cast though that was perhaps more of a surprise. The performances from Bonham Carter and Depp were expected, whereas the starring performance from Alice, played by Mia Wasikowska was something of a surprise. I wasn't really sure of her as Alice to begin with but as her character developed she became more and more like Alice, exactly as she was meant to appear to the other character and it worked really well. Couple this with excellent voice over appearances by Matt Lucas, Stephen Fry, Paul Whitehouse and the ever excellent Alan Rickman added some real substance to the visual effect that Burton had created. My only disappointment was really with Barbara Windsor as the Doormouse as she just never really convinced me.
Burton Strike Again
It is fair to say that Tim Burton has delivered another excellent adaptation of a classic story. His vision doesn't stay exactly true to Lewis Carroll's original but it does work. It is entertaining and quite dark in equal measures. He managed to portray every character as having a good and bad side that comes through from time to time and with almost perfect casting he pulls it off well. It's a film that tells a story, but is more about the visual effect of that story rather than the actual story itself. I think kids and grownups alike will love the visual effect of the movie just as much as the story.
I'm quite ashamed to say that my knowledge of Alice In Wonderland, or any strains of Lewis Carroll's original text and subsequent sequels and films, is extremely limited. Sure, I understand that there are a series of characters who are famous throughout book and film, and the whole 'eat me' and 'drink me' concept of growing and shrinking that the story consists of.
I must have seen versions of it and read abridged and changed versions of the book, but this is probably the first time I have actually sat through an entire showing of a film relating to the story. It's more of a sequel to the original, apparently, taking place when the titular heroine, Alice, is now a 19 year old girl who vaguely remembers 'dreams' she had when she had when she was a little girl. Running away from a potentially embarrassing and awkward situation at a busy party, she finds herself following a white rabbit at the end of a stately garden, and ends up in a magical land full of dark and sinister characters and locations.
Tim Burton's stamp is all over this, and had I not known he was directing it, he still would have been my first guess, and this is before Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter make their appearances. Through the quirky visuals and the clipped and weird dialogue, the tale becomes vaguely clear - the vicious and violent Queen of Hearts is one th rampage and must be overthrown. Apparently Alice is their only hope. Along the way, we meet characters such as the Mad Hatter (Depp), the White Rabbit, Tweedles Dum and Dee, the Doormouse, the White Queen and the Queen of Hearts herself (Carter). The majority of these characters have had a great deal of computer generated imagery work done on them, and where possible, the voice actors' faces have been incorporated. For example, Matt Lucas plays the Tweedles, and it looks like him, and Stephen Fry voices the Cheshire Cat and visually there's something of Mr Fry there as well.
There are also other celebrated voice actors, such as Michael Sheen, Barbara Windsor, Alan Rickman and Timothy Spall, all of whom have a visual connection, and they all do very well. Anne Hathaway is decent enough as the White Queen, with Mia Wasikowska doing a decent job of a perpetually confused Alice. You'd expect Depp to be on fine form, and suppose that looking it in the context of a Burton film, he's on the money with the surreal nature of his performance. He's very good, for sure, but at times it's a bit too much and you just wish for a bit of normality, even though this is the Depp/Burton combo that promotes surreal cinema.
But it's Carter as the evil Queen that steals the show. Her extremely 'proper' and quirky performance with a bit of help from the special effects department with altering the shape of her head and body shines above everything else in the film, including the direction. Burton knows exactly where he wants things and people, and gets it, you just have to be aware of this before embarking on one of his films. Carter manages to rise above everything else and even adds some comedic moments, even if they are dark at the same time.
Burton is also a forerunner in terms of the use of special effects, and always has been. I look back to things such as Edward Scissorhands and how Depp was used to provide the tragic tale, with the vision of the dark house on the hill. Here, the same darkness is used, and in a film that is largely based on animation, it's something you again have to be prepared for. I wasn't completely convinced, I have to say, although it is fast moving enough to be entertaining for the majority of the film. The special effects department, though, are the ones who need to take the biggest bow. There is some amazing work done here, and one of the biggest tricks is making it all look real. A lot of films try to push the boundaries of what FX can do and it shows, but here, it all looks so real, and there are no real moments where you can tell there are green or blue screens being used, or anything like that. Very impressive.
Overall then, there are very impressive moments, but perhaps the darkness and presentation and weird quirkiness of Carroll's surreal tale and Burton's surreal direction style doesn't completely come off as well as it could have done. It's definitely worth a watch, but it's as great as its potential would have had you think. Recommended.
FILM ONLY REVIEW
A young Alice has dreams, they are not ordinary ones, these dreams are of a magical place where nothing is as it should be, there is a talking and disappearing cat and a mad hatter who has a tea party and a nasty Queen of Hearts. She tells her parent of the dreams but they think nothing of them.
When Alice reached the age of 19 she is invited to a party only to discover that she is to be engaged, she needs time to think of the proposal so takes a walk only to fall down a hole. At the bottom of the hole she discovers that her dreams have come true and she has ended up in her own wonderland. She discovers that she has been taken there by the rabbit as they believe she is the Alice that has been there before and can help them rid the place of the nasty Queen. Alice is shocked and believes she is dreaming but with no way of getting home she has to help the animals.
Can Alice help her friends in Wonderland and will she every get home to answer her marriage proposal?
I must confess to the fact that I have never seen the original Disney version of this film so did not quite know what to expect from the film, the only real reason why I wanted to watch this was because it starred Johnny Depp and I am always pleased to watch him on screen. I did find the storyline was very good and not at all what I imagined it to be. I was expecting it to have a lot of bright colours and fun as it was originally a Disney film but we did not get this at all. I found it was all quite dark and dull to watch and all of the characters were actually quite depressed. The story was explaining to us that this is how Wonderland had once been and Alice had been asked back to get it back to this way. This was my first disappointment from the film.
My second let down was the lack of Johnny Deep, he played the role of the Had Hatter and he did this role excellently. I just needed to see more of him as he only starred for less than half of the film. He played the part brilliantly and he really came across as being mad. His eyes were a main factor in his role and he was able to get so many emotions and expressions across by just his eyes and it always amazes me how he can do this. He was a strong presence when on screen but I would have liked his character to have also been a little stronger. He worked well with the role of Alice and they had a good connection when on screen together. Alice was played by Mia Wasikowska and she did a good job. She was quite shy and quiet at the start of the film and it was nice to watch her grow and get stronger as the film went on.
Other good roles in the film included, Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen, Anne Hathaway and the White Queen and Crispin Glover as Knave of Hearts, they all bought very different characters to the story and made for some entertaining viewing.
There is a lot of animation in the film and I did think this was all made to a very high standard. It was not made to look like a cartoon but more of the real characters they create. The animated characters did fit effortlessly into the film and at times I did actually forget that they were not real. They were all bought to life by the voices which they were given and this helped with them being able to express themselves and get their emotions across. The main voices included voiceovers by Michael Sheen, Stephen Fry, Alan Rickman and Barbara Windsor.
I did have an issue with the accent which Johnny Depp gave to the Mad Hatter, one minute he would have a Scottish accent and the next he had an American one, I did not like this at the start of the film but once I actually got to know his character and got into the story I just found it helped in making him look mad.
The setting for the story as I said before was quite dark and dull, the whole film really did lack colour and I found the appearance of the landscapes was quite strange and weird. The colour did improve slightly when we were in the Queen of Heart palace but this was the only real bright bit of the film. The setting for Alice before she went into wonderland was based in the 1930's and I enjoyed this and thought they did a good job in getting this year across to us. The music was a good part of the film and I fond it all fitted in very well, it helped with the drama, tension and emotions of the story and made it slight easier to follow.
I am only reviewing the film so there are no bonus features to speak about. The running time of the film is 108 minutes and the rate is a PG. I do advise caution when letting children watch this film as it is not the light Disney film we would imagine. The DVD can be bought for around the £10 price but it has been shown a lot recently on Sky movies.
I just wish I could give this film more than 3 stars but unfortunately I cannot. The story was good and so to was the acting and animation but for me it was lacking in the Disney magic and colour I was expecting. I do recommend this but do not expect too much as it was very over hyped. We also needed to see more of Johnny Depp on screen.
After watching Charlie and the chocolate factory by Tim Burton starring Johnny Depp I knew I just had to watch this film. I loved the style Tim Burton used on the classic story Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and I was hoping the Alice and wonderland would be the same. Johnny Depp made his character shine I think he is an extremely talented actor.
The film begins with the young Alice who suffers from the same strange dream every night of the rabbit with the watch. Moving on many years you join an grown up Alice who is 19 years old (played by Mia Wasikowska) she is a slightly daring girl who comes across as quirky and different to everyone else in her upper class family. She is to be asked for her hand in marriage to a very well to do family. As she asks for time to think she runs off only to see the little rabbit in a waistcoat with a watch. She finds herself falling down a rabbit hole. This beginning part of the film is like any other plain period drama but once she enters the holes Tim Burton comes into his own.
Alice is in Underland the place of very surreal characters. It is just like the dreams she used to have. Alice is told she is there to fight the jabberwocky and only she can do it. She has to overcome many obstacles along the way with the help of the mad Hatter. Alice still believes it is all a dream and she will wake up at any moment but is it?
The effects are spectacular as you would have expected from this great director. Wonderland is bright and so alive. The animation and graphics are stunning but not always beautiful as the kingdom is run by the red evil Queen and parts of it looked destroyed. I will say this film is a PG but I think some of the scenes may be a little scary for a young child. Tim Burtons adaption seems slightly darker to the books or the original Disney film. There is definitely more of an adult feel to the film and many humorous parts throughout with a great star studded support cast.
Tim Burton hasn't scrimped on the cast. As I have mentioned it stars Johnny Deep as the mad Hatter. He seems to have extended his role in the story but Depp doesn't let him down. He brings the character alive. He works the character well as crazy, surreal and a little bit creepy at times. If you're not a big fan of the story it is worth watching if for only the mad dance Depp does at the end it had us in tears of laughter.
Alongside Depp to name a few there is Helene Bohman Carter as the red Queen, Anne Hathaway as the white Queen, Matt Lucas as Tweedledee/Tweedledum, Micheal Sheen as the white rabbits voice, Stephen Fry as the Cheshire cats voice, Alan Rickman as the blue caterpillars voice, Barbara Windsor as Dormouses voice and Timothy Spall as Bayard's voice.
The main plot is there if a little disguised. I found it very easy to follow. I think older children will enjoy it immensely. With the good and the bad queen and the pettiness of the red Queen. Helene Carter plays her fantastically. You can't help but find yourself disliking her childish ways.
I can't praise this film enough Tim Burton has yet again bought a classic story into the twenty first century. I could watch this film time and time again. We paid £10 for this film and it was well worth it, it will sit at the front of our dvd collection.
* Introduction *
In 1865, English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll, wrote Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. In 1871, he followed it up with a sequel called Through The Looking-Glass. The novels were written around a fantasy world populated by whimsical and magical creatures. A century and a half later, director Tim Burton has released a film version of these classic novels. This new film is not an exact adaptation of either novel, but it's much closer to the sequel.
* Plot *
I'm quite sure that most of you will already be familiar with the story from the novels, but I will give a brief plot summary of the film.
It starts with Alice as a child. She tells her father all about her strange dreams where she is falling down a hole and seeing strange creatures such as a smiling cat, a dodo bird and a blue caterpillar. Her father tells her that she must be mad, but then reassures her that all the best people are.
The film cuts to thirteen years later and Alice is now a young woman. She is travelling in a horse-drawn carriage to a party with her mother. She has lost her father and she misses him greatly. Unfortunately for Alice, she doesn't realise that the party she is attending is intended to be her own engagement party. She has been lined up to marry Hamish, the son of a Lord who was one of her father's business partners.
At the party she keeps seeing a white rabbit dressed in a waistcoat which nobody else seems to see. Sure enough the marriage proposal takes place in front of all the guests. When it's time for Alice to respond she gets distracted by the white rabbit again. She tells the expectant crowd that she needs a moment to consider the proposal and runs away after the rabbit. She follows it to a dead tree stump where it disappears down a hole. Alice gazes into the hole, but loses her balance and falls in. She falls down and down and down until eventually ends up in a heap in a small room at the bottom. I'm sure you all know the story of the key, the 'eat me' food and the 'drink me' juice, but eventually Alice makes her way out of the room and into Wonderland.
Wonderland is a beautifully constructed world. Not quite on the scale as Avatar, but still magical in its own right. There are talking flowers, flying rocking horses and all kinds of weird and wonderful creatures; someone's imagination has really run riot here.
In Wonderland we meet the characters of which I'm sure you're all familiar. The White Rabbit, The Dormouse, The Cheshire Cat, The Mad Hatter, The March Hare and The Tweedle's amongst others. They are all beautifully crafted and the voiceovers are all instantly recognisable.
When Alice arrives, the Wonderland characters try to determine if this is 'The Alice' that they have been seeking for so long. They have been looking for a girl called Alice who they prophesize will slay the frightening Jabberwocky and restore the White Queen to her thrown, overthrowing her evil sister, the Red Queen.
Alice can't really come to terms with all this and is sure that she is just dreaming. Will Alice be able to wake herself up and take control of the situation, or will she have to fulfil her destiny in Wonderland?
* Opinion *
Even though this is a well-known story, director Tim Burton has produced a movie that is still well worth viewing. He has kept the story very simple and spent a good deal of time and attention to detail on the stunning visuals of Wonderland and the loveable characters residing within it.
Although the story was kept simple, it certainly doesn't become boring or insignificant and it's certainly distinct from anything Lewis Carroll ever wrote.
Alice's character is well-developed. You follow her plight as a youngster with strange dreams to an easily distracted young woman with strange and crazy thoughts who is being lead into a marriage she is uncertain of. Burton makes you sympathise with her and care about her.
As you would expect in this digital age Wonderland is full of beautifully crafted lifeforms. It is truly spectacular, the children will love it and the grown ups will just admire it. A lot of time and effort has gone into the construction of this world based on Carroll's vision and it certainly doesn't disappoint. There is always so much to look at, that I think a second viewing will be necessary in the not-too-distant future.
Although the setting is wonderful, for me it's the characters of Wonderland that make this film so appealing. They all have their own characteristics and they look great. My favourite character is The Mad Hatter, played by Johnny Depp. With his orange hair, crazy eyes, and iconic hat, he works his magic on yet another strange role. The Hatter is funny, spontaneous, very enjoyable to watch, comes out with some really quirky quotes (see review title) and is a great character in the sense that the audience is really able to feel for him. But all of the main characters are great. They all look beautiful on-screen and have all been superbly animated. Added to this you have the iconic voices of British television in the form of Michael Sheen, Matt Lucas, Stephen Fry, Alan Rickman, Barbara Windsor, Timothy Spall and Paul Whitehouse. This really makes the characters identifiable.
Tim Burton's take on these classic novels was never going to be a masterpiece, but it certainly does have plenty of flare and imagination. He adds his typical strangely beautiful style, as he did with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The story isn't exactly as I remember it, but the original plot is still there and it's all still very enchanting. Overall, I would heartily recommend it.
Film: Alice In Wonderland
Director: Tim Burton
Running Time: 109mins
Price: £9.99 (Amazon)
19 year old Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is still disturbed by a reoccurring dream from her childhood - an absurdist "wonderland" filled with talking animals, a wicked queen, mad tea parties and other impossibilities. From a young age her father installed in her a sense of independence and free spirit. However, now she finds herself in a reality where she has little control whatsoever - Victorian society. A garden party held by Lord Ascot (Tim Piggott-Smith) turns into an orchestrated surprise engagement, where the heir to the Ascot estate proposes to Alice. Alice is confused and instead decides to chase after a white rabbit in a waistcoat (Michael Sheen). She falls down a hole and ends up in a world that is all too familiar. This time, however, she is the prophesised "Alice" destined to take on the monstrous Jabberwocky in a final battle to decide the fate of an incredible world...
It's funny how bad news travels fast. It is also interesting how the earliest beliefs are often those that stand the firmest. At long last my family and I sat down to watch Mr Burton's latest mock-sinister or light gothic exploration of a children's classic. My assembled panel immediately talked over each other with their own excited pre-viewing opinions of the picture. Of course, one of our motley bunch had already seen the film, which was widely released in 3D (you know that amazing new form of gimmicky technology that has only been used to let down audiences twice before, once in the '50s and then in the '80s!), and couldn't wait to voice his opinion which he thought was in line with the popular verdict. "It's rubbish" he announced. "Wasn't this picture slated?" piped up my goodly wife - a fellow fan of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp's collective work, never a fan of popular opinion, but nevertheless a little sceptical of their recent output. "No" I replied, a little annoyed at what I could see was unfolding in front me before the opening credits were even given a chance. "Yes it was!" retorted our pre-screen advisor, stepping up to the defence of what he perceived as the popular view. "Mixed reviews" I said. That hardly won the argument. "Mixed reviews" says more "not very good" than "not very bad" to most people.
Anyway, the truth is that Tim Burton's rendition of Lewis Carol's most famous children's novels, "Alice in Wonderland" and "Alice Through the Looking Glass", is considered just above average by most review based media websites. Commercially it is currently the fifth highest grossing movie of all time, making it easily Burton's most financially successful film to date. However, it did seem upon its initial release that the reviews were often negative. It appears that critics have warmed to it over time. There are a few obvious things that I could see that would put a few people off and certainly a few things I felt made the film fall short of Tim Burton's best works.
The first thing on many film buffs minds must have been with all the many wonderful classics in literature out there, do we need yet another "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" adaptation? It certainly struck me when I first heard of Burton's intentions. Alongside Charles Dickens' "Oliver Twist", it must be the most over-adapted children's novel in the English language. And like the Dickens novel, "Alice in Wonderland" has never really suffered from having its source material messed around with much - most versions remain loyal to the story. Even the original Disney animated cartoon did well to keep much of Carol's darker moments and did little to compromise the extreme eccentricity running through the narrative. There have been various onscreen feature films, even three silent pictures, as well as TV movies and several TV series. In fact, a decade hasn't passed since 1903 that hasn't seen some filmmaker bring his or her vision of the story to the silver or small screen in some form or another.
A big budget film provides massive potential for a story like this. It suffers from CGI overload and there are several instances where it really does fray at the edges (the Knave of Hearts mounting and dismounting his horse seems to come straight out of a shoddy Play Station game), but I guess this can be partly forgiven if we consider the surreal and dreamlike nature of Wonderland. Newcomer Mia Wasikowska puts in an able performance as the film's lead and presents a far stronger and rebellious female role model than the conservative little child we are used to. Johnny Depp puts in another trademark wacky performance - the Mad Hatter being an even more extreme eccentric that Willy Wonka or Jack Sparrow. Helena Bonham Carter puts in a superbly pantomime performance as the Red Queen (a combination of the Red Queen from "Alice in the Looking Glass" and the Queen of Hearts in "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"). It seems that the Burton/Depp/Bonham Carter combination has not become tiresome for most viewers - just as the Scorsese/De Niro/Pesci trio never seemed to wear thin. As is often the case with Burton's films there is a strong supporting cast of well-loved British actors. Stephen Fry and Alan Rickman's voices seem just as born to play the Cheshire Cat and Caterpillar. Likewise Matt Lucas's unique features fit Tweedle dum and Tweedle dee perfectly. Geraldine James and Tim Piggott-Smith also deserve acknowledgements for camping up their respective roles that exist outside of Underland. Christopher Lee also gets what seems to have become an obligatory Burton film cameo, even if we only hear him for a few seconds before his tongue is severed.
So with such good material at hand and even some latitude given for the CGI gamble, where could the film possibly go wrong? Well, Burton clearly decided that if he was going to get his hands on the project it he had no need to bring out the film that would finally be loyal to the source material. In fact, he unashamedly declared that the story could be better adapted for the screen by making some dramatic fundamental changes. Carol's absurdist vision does little to endear you to any character other than Alice. There is little need, as the focus is entirely on Alice and everything is an outward of her subconscious, mixed up with symbolism and absurdist humour. This often makes the characters in most adaptations come across as antagonistic. Every one of them usually frustrates, confuses, irritates, insults or directly opposes her in some way. Burton clearly decided it was time we had a more ordered look at the lunacy of "Wonderland", or "Underland" as we are now told the correct name for the dream world is called, and to start fleshing out the different characters to understand their motives and behaviours.
I guess here we find a clear problem that could divide fans of the original story with this particular version of the story. Tim Burton has adamantly stated that he does not see his "Alice in Wonderland" as either a sequel or even a reimagining of the original novel. I guess that leaves us with a story inspired by the events depicted in the novel, although more generous reviewers might describe it as an interpretation. Whatever you decide on, there is little getting away from the fact that the ideas taken from the original novel no longer make up its core. This is now a fantasy action film at its heart with clearly defined sides of good and evil fighting it out - the hallmarks of the original story are now so much elaborate dressing.
Back on the sofa with my family of critics I considered how the film stands now the dust has long since settled. Our opinion seemed comparable with the average collective view of most critics - with one of us really liking it, one of us loathing it and the rest thinking it was quite good. I was of the quite good opinion. Its commercial success is of no surprise, but how it came about is interesting. Burton is a mainstream auteur with offbeat tendencies, using mainstream techniques to add depth to a symbolic piece. The whole concept is almost pure abusurdism!
Having been a fan of Alice in Wonderland for years, both the original book and of course the diney cartoon adaptation, i awaited this one with baited breath. If that wasn't enough i found out Tim Burton was involved and having loved his work with The Corpse Bride and Big Fish i had high expectations.
However, i was gravely disappointed with this film. For starters the plot was awful. Alice is now older and has inexplicably forgotten the last time she went down a rabbit hole. What follows is essentially nothing, literally. The entire plot can be sumarised in probably a sentence. Virtually nothing acutally happens. The entire film is basically 20 minutes of entertainment crammed into 108. Johnny Depp, groaningly, reprises his role as the same character he always plays in Tim Burton's films and Alan Rickman is poorly cast also. I thought the casting of Paul Whitehouse and Matt Lucas was good, however, and Mia Wasikowska was good also!
The film begins with a young Alice explaining to Charles, her father, that she has had a dream about falling down a hole and seeing strange creatures. 13 years later, Charles has died and Alice is sat in a carriage with her mother on their way to a dance. Alice tells her mother that she has not slept well due to a recurring bad dream about falling down a hole. At the dance, Lord Hamish, an ugly ginger haired man asks Alice to marry him. Alice sees a rabbit moving through the undergrowth, she follows it saying she needs a moment to think about the proposal. So begins the story we all know and love. However, there is a twist to the original story. This is Alice's second visit to Underland and this time she has to fulfil her destiny but is she the right Alice?
Mad Hatter - Johnny Depp
Alice - Mia Wasikowska
Red Queen - Helena Bonham Carter
White Queen - Anne Hathaway
Stayne (Knave of Hearts) - Crispin Glover
Tweedledee/Tweedledum - Matt Lucas
White Rabbit - Michael Sheen
Cheshire Cat - Stephen Fry
Caterpillar - Alan Rickman
Dormouse - Barbara Windsor
March Hare - Paul Whitehouse
Bayard - Timothy Spall
Charles Kingsleigh - Marton Csokas
I watched this film with my grandparents who are in their early 70s. We all thoroughly enjoyed it. If I am totally honest, I didn't expect much from the film as remakes are never anywhere near as good as the originals and this is such a classic story. I was very pleasantly surprised.
The special effects are brilliant and when Alice falls down the rabbit hole at the beginning of her adventure, you really feel like you are falling with her as the clocks and pianos etc fly past her. I really liked the way the room changes as Alice grows and shrinks with the eat me and drink me potions. Everything was kept to scale and very cleverly done. I really wanted a rocking horse fly and was particularly impressed with the way the film handles the differences in size between Alice and the Mad Hatter. The scenary was brilliant with a perfect mix of props and computer generated plants etc.
I felt the film was very well cast and the all star cast help to make the film what it is. Alan Rickman is superb as the caterpillar and his voice really suits the character. You could hear the boredom in his voice at being asked what he felt were very trivial questions. Matt Lucas made me laugh as Tweedledee and Tweedledum. I don't think that anyone could have filled that role in a better way. His facial expressions worked so well with the dim brothers. The Cheshire Cat was very cute and the way he moved was very cat like. I remember the cartoon cat being slightly more sinister but I don't think he needed to be in this adaptation on the film. I am not a huge fan of Helena Bonham Carter but she did a really good job as the queen of hearts. She added a sinister edge to the role at the beginning which becomes laughable by the end. I really liked the character Bayard, the bloodhound and felt so sorry for him, being forced to hunt Alice against his will. The character of the White Queen was not as interesting as the Red Queen and although I usually like Anne Hathaway, the character really began to get on my nerves by the end. She is so regal throughout and very much like a stereotypical Disney queen without getting any feel of depth of character. I don't watch very many films so had never seen Mia Wasikowska before. I think she was perfect as Alice. She had just the right balance of naive innocence mixed with a determination to succeed in her difficult life path.
After watching the remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory where I wanted to beat Johnny Depp the entire way through for being so annoying, I didn't expect much from this film. Don't get me wrong, I love Johnny as an actor and no one could have played Jack Sparrow better than he has but in that film he annoyed me. What a difference he brought to the role of the Mad Hatter. If I had to choose, he would be my favourite character in this film. The story of his decline into madness is very well portrayed and really pulls at your heart strings. I loved the way his eyes changed colour and he changed to a Scottish accent during his moments of madness. Depp really gave the character depth and made the Hatter to be a believable character.
Although the film may be a bit dark and creepy for younger viewers, I would thoroughly recommend this film to anyone. There are quite a few laugh out loud moments in the film (generally from Matt Lucas) and I was very impressed and will be watching this one many more times as I feel you will pick up on bits you missed if you watch it a second time.
I bought the DVD for £9.99 from Play.com
I have to start by admitting that I am a huge Alice in Wonderland fan and have been since I was a child, so to be able to return to wonderland in this film known as 'Underland' with Alice as an adult was brilliant.
Johnny Depp as the mad Hatter plays a very good 'mad' he portrays the hatter really well, Mia Wasikowska as Alice she is an actress I have not seen before but was very well suited to the alice role, Helena Bonham Carter as the Red queen who was by far was my favourite character in this version the one liners were hilarious, Anne Hathaway as the white queen plays a good role of the floaty style good queen who wouldn't hurt a fly and Matt Lucas as tweddle dee and tweedle dum brilliant again as these characters.
The story is slightly different.......
This version shows Alice grown up she is now 19 years old and head strong the film begins with Alice being taken to a party which turns out to be her own engagement. Alice is not ready for this enter the white rabbit which Alice chases before falling down the rabbit hole and into 'Underland'. Alice has been having dreams but does not remember going to Underland as a child and she thinks it is still all a dream. The film sees Alice return to the world of talking creatures, and strange people both good, bad and mad who need her to save underland from the rule of the evil red queen so the white queen can once again rule. In order to save underland Alice must slay the red queens precious Jabberwacky on a certain day Alice is still not convinced she will be the one to save Underland. As Alice sets out on her adventure she again goes from big to small to huge through the help of cake and potions as in Alice in Wonderland and the costumes which change with her size are wonderful. Alice also returns to tea with the mad hatter who helps her on her journey before he gets captured by the red queen I don't want to give anymore of the story away but at 26 year old i really enjoyed this film I have seen it in 3D in the cinema and also have it on DVD it is a film I will watch again again, though as I said before I am a huge Alice fan so that will make a difference. The different scenes and special effects are very good and the story line kept me interested all the way through. I have recommended this film to friends who are not huge Alice fans and have not thought of watching it before and they have also enjoyed it and recommended it to others so its not just me lol.
I watched this on DVD last night.
I had been wanting to watch this film since it came out but never got round to it and with Tim Burton directing I had high hopes..
The film is based on the books 'Alice in Wonderland' and 'Through the Looking Glass' and the storyline follows this more or less. Alice has been having dreams since she was young and when she is invited to her own engagement party, she starts to see the White Rabbit... Before you know it she follows the rabbit and ends up down the rabbit hole..
She then discovers that her dreams may not have been dreams at all and so the story progresses.
There are lots of famous names in this production... Johnny Depp as the mad hatter, Barbara Windsor as the doormouse, Alan Rickman as the caterpillar and Stephen Fry as the Cheshire Cat to name but a few..
The graphics in this were excellent. The queen of hearts card guards really grabbed me and the forest was quite dark and eerie and very believable.
Alice was played by an actress that I hadn't heard or seen of before and I think that she played the part particularly well. Alice and the Mad Hatter predominantly took centre stage and Johnny Depp was as aloof and spectacular as usual..Although I did find the white witch a bit odd!
After watching the film I did feel quite disappointed. However on reflection I'm not sure what more I would have expected. This film was in typical Tim Burton style and the story didn't detract from the original that much.
Maybe I was expecting a bit more of a twist or maybe I have finally grown out of Alice in Wonderland...?
This review has also been posted on Ciao
I had been dying to see the film Alice In Wonderland so when my friend asked me round hers to watch it I jumped at the chance. I had read quite a few bad reviews about the film but was still wanting to see it and decide for myself. I like Johnny Depp anyway and also like Tim Burton films so thought it would be right up my street.
I was not disappointed at all, I found the film really good. The story was well told and everything looked very magical and strange, just how it should be in a film about Alice's weird dream. In this film, she is now 19 years old and is visiting Wonderland for the second time although she cant remember the first time that well, just odd things here and there.
Johnny Depp was brilliant as the Mad Hatter, you couldn't help falling a little in love with the character. He looked very strange with the bright green eyes and the curly orange hair but it was a fabulous performance yet again from him. He seems to fit so well into these mad, weirdly dressed characters like Edward Scissorhands and Captain Jack Sparrow.
Mia Wasikowska was really good as Alice. She played the part just right with a bit of madness o her and something very cheeky just popping out every now and then.
Matt Lucas was so funny as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, again the part could have been written for him and he was just the right person to be the dumpy twins.
Helena Bonham Carter was so the Red Queen, I couldn't imagine anyone else playing the part, it was just made for her. I loved the way they made her head big in the film, it was so cleverly done.
There were lots of other brilliant special effects in the film, I especially liked the Cheshire Cat, and also the way they got the red card soldiers to move about. I hope there is a bonus bit on the dvd which shows you how they did some of these bits as I like watching those kinds of thing, they are really interesting.
Also in the film were Anne Hathaway as the White Queen, Crispin Glover as the Knave of Hearts. There were a lot of stars who did the voices for the other characters like Michael Sheen as the White Rabbit, Stephen Fry as the Cheshire Cat, Alan Rickman as the Blue Caterpillar, Barbara Windsor as the Dormouse, Paul Whitehouse as the March Hare and Timothy Spall as the lovely dog Bayard.
My 14 year old daughter watched the film with us as well and she loved it too and has been begging me ever since to buy the dvd for ourselves. Looks like it wont take much to twist my arm to get this one.
Tim Burton has been one of my favourite directors ever since I first watched the enchanting tale of Edward Scissorhands. His unique, quirky style captivates me in virtually every film I watch...except this. It was a monumental disappointment.
This film is a sequel to 'Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass'. Alice, played by a newbie Australian actress named Mia Wasikowski, is a young woman who, through no want of her own, is about to marry a pretentious upper-class arse. Her venture back to Wonderland can be seen as an escapism from the daunting pressures of her life. It becomes a journey of self discovery and feminist empowerment as she begins to question societal traditions.
Alice, exasperated from the lavish wedding ceremony, catches a glimpse of a certain white rabbit (Voice by Michael Sheen). The Vaguely familiar creature leads her to the rabbit hole where she enters Wonderland once again. She is soon reunited with her old childhood friends, one of course being the Mad Hatter, played by the tremendous Johnny Depp. Naturally, Burton makes the Mad Hatter look as outlandish as possible, with a wild fro of gingery hair, obscure vibrant clothes & creepy enlarged eyes. Johnny Depp, as per, lives up to his status as one of the most talented, eminent actors of all time. He pulls of the eccentric persona of the Mad Hatter perfectly and even varies from a strong English accent with a lisp to an aggressive Scottish tone intermittently, and assuming this wasn't 'Wonderland', the men-in-white-coats would definitely be after him.
It isn't long before Alice discovers that Wonderland needs her help to resurrect the White Queen's (Anne Hathaway) status which was sabotaged by the oppressive Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter- coincidence that she is Tim Burton's wife? It think not) and obviously, Alice is there to save the day. Everything else which leads to the culmination of the film, is utterly predictable and personally, I did not find it engaging in the slightest. Predominantly, I felt that the actress playing Alice was very underwhelming. Physically, she looked too plain, although I guess this makes a disparate contrast to the quirky looking characters of Wonderland. Her acting though, was appalling and was reminiscent of the young girl in the original Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass. Possibly, Burton wished for her to convey that childhood innocence as a symbol of her not yet grasping her identity as a self-sufficient, independent woman. As a 19 year old girl however, this seemed overly contrived. In fact, the only character in the whole film which maintained my attention span, albeit momentarily, was Johnny Depp.
Naturally, it being a Tim Burton film, it is visually spectacular. Having seen it in 3-D augmented the visuals and really immersed you into the mysterious, crazy world of the Wonderland. However, if you have no reverence for a film deprived of a good script, actors and plot...then dear Lord, please refrain from subjecting yourself to such boredom.
I hope I have saved you from wasting 108 minutes of your life :)