Alice in Wonderland, Dir. Tim Burton

Posted: March 29, 2010 by Adam in Film Reviews
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This film needs no introduction….but I’ll do it anyway, a well known story is brought to life by the master of the dark and bizarre Tim Burton. The film sees Alice re-enter Wonderland (or as it is correctly known, Underland) when she tries to escape from answering a marriage proposal from a ginger person (who wouldn’t run away?). She follows the white rabbit into a hole and undergoes a whole series of pointless self growing and shrinking while remarkably still fitting her clothes (I seem to remember this not being so easy for the Incredible Hulk). She then meets a whole host of weird and wonderful creatures voiced by a master class of British actors including Stephen Fry, Alan Rickman, Matt Lucus, Paul Whitehouse, Timothy Spall and er…..Barbara Windsor. She then eventually meets the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) whom she has to rescue from the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) she then goes on to eventually duel the Jabberwocky.

Now, one of the big problems facing cinema goers is whether to see this film in 2D or 3D. I saw Alice in Wonderland in 2D on the same night a friend went to see it in 3D. The friend thought the 3D version didn’t work very well (a statement echoed by others later on), whereas I thought the 2D version was creative and worked well. In short it appears that nothing was lost by seeing this film in 2D rather than 3D. In fact judging by what the people who saw this in 3D have had to say about it the film sounds better in 2D! So is 3D just a money making gimmick for the cinemas and studios to hike up ticket prices and force us all to feel motion sick when seeing films which score null point on plot or dialogue but score very highly in the ‘You must go see this film in 3D because its MEANT to be visually spectacular but actually it will just leave you feeling angry and a bit sick’? (in no way am I hinting at Avatar at all…nope no way) OF COURSE IT BLOODY IS YOU IDIOT!

Retrofitting a film for 3D is wrong and films that do this should be avoided like the plague. It’s not right that we should have to sacrifice decent dialogue and plot for ‘wow’ factor visual effects. It is possible to do both at the same time. I would like to point out that this is a bit harsh on Alice in Wonderland as the plot is fine until the final, now standard, battle scene. (This rant is probably better aimed at Avatar which really annoyed me but I saw it so late on that it seems a bit silly to write a review on it now)

The film itself is well acted and the plot chugs along fairly rapidly. Sadly as a result of this a lot of the characters feel like they are purely there to tick ‘whose who’ boxes for fans of the original books. Having said that, at times the plot moves too quickly and although Burton was aiming to make the film feel less like a series of set pieces and more like a complete story, I think he has failed at this. The film still feels like a series of set pieces in which nothing is really said and you feel like the Alice is moving in an arbitrary way forward towards her final showdown with the Jabberwocky.

The characters themselves though are on the whole well voiced, with Stephen Fry’s Cheshire Cat a particular highlight along with Alan Rickman’s Absolem and Johnny Depp’s Rab C Nesbitt inspired Mad Hatter. However, this is all marvellously tarnished by Helena Bonham Carter’s Red Queen, who is basically Miranda Richardson as Queenie in Blackadder II. Supposedly the character was inspired by her young daughter although this seems to be a pretty poor excuse for copycatting a well known role. I cannot begin to explain how shocked I was at the whole thing. How has she not been critically panned more heavily for this?

One other thing is that sometimes the special effects looked….well… a bit crap! When the Red Queen’s henchman Stayne moves it is really jerky in a way that doesn’t look natural. Tweedledee and Tweedledum also looked a bit odd, and that wasn’t even as a result of having Matt Lucas’s face superimposed on them both! It seems at odds for a film which has been so highly praised for its visual element to have such poor digital effects.

All in all AIW is a perfectly fine film and Burton has lent his distinct style and take on the books to produce a thoroughly watchable experience. Next time though it would be nice to see him step out of his comfort zone just a little and do something you wouldn’t expect of him, I hate to say it but his style is becoming very predictable. Despite all of the problems with 3D and the lack of character depth I would still recommend seeing this film and if you are going to see a 3D film see this instead of Avatar, let’s not encourage James Cameron.


  1. Jenny says:

    I’m so bored of all the AIW tie in stuff everywhere. If I see one more t-shirt, necklace, notebook or themed tea party I shall knife someone.

    At least it’s not Avatar though, possibly the worst film ever.

    Have you seen this?

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