Review: Alice in Wonderland (2010)


Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Directed by: Tim Burton | 102 minutes | adventure, family, fantasy | Actors: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Crispin Glover, Anne Hathaway, Stephen Fry, Christopher Lee, Michael Sheen, Alan Rickman, Matt Lucas, Timothy Spall, Barbara Windsor, Marton Csokas, Eleanor Tomlinson, Lindsay Duncan, John Hopkins Amy Bailey, Frances de la Tour, Geraldine James, Tim Pigott-Smith, Jemma Powell, Leo Bill, Eleanor Gecks, Lucy Davenport, Arick Salmea, Annalize Basso, Reb Brown, Michael Chomiak, Parker Contreras, Xavier Declie, Neil Dickson, Ian Duncan, Larry Eudene, Eric Feliciano, Brighid Fleming, Jessica Godber, Chris Grabher, Daniel Hepner, Vladimir Kubr, Lindsay Lane, Regan Licciardello

The story of “Alice in Wonderland” and director Tim Burton seem to be made for each other. It is not a sweet fairy tale full of romance and easy to interpret characters. While there is certainly love and kindness in “Alice’s” universe, the tone there is also often hostile, sarcastic, and awkward. Right up the street for Burton, who has always been drawn to dark, unusual worlds and characters. What is not unimportant here is that the special, (pleasantly) deranged characters that inhabit Wonderland, fit in well with his own preferences. The credo Alice learns from her father in the film that “the crazy, idiotic people are often the best people” is undoubtedly one that Burton agrees with. Finally, the filmmaker has shown that he has an unbridled imagination, with which he can undoubtedly give substance to an imaginary wonderland in a beautiful way. So Burton seems to be the perfect filmmaker for this (kind of) material. Add to that a trusted and competent cast and crew, the far-reaching possibilities of current animation techniques, the added value of 3D projection, and you have a film to lick your fingers. This is also exactly what Burton’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ has become, apart from some technical flaws.

Burton’s ‘Alice’ is both a sequel and a remake of the original story. In the film, Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is a lot older than the original girl who falls down the rabbit hole, while this episode (with the “other” Alice) is often referenced by the many creatures in Wonderland. The elder Alice seems to have to live in the shadow of her legendary predecessor. With the background story of this new Alice, Burton manages to introduce quite nicely different themes of the story. Alice finds herself on the border between childhood and adulthood, and is forced by a sudden marriage proposal from a rich Lord to make choices that she really doesn’t want to make yet. She doesn’t want to answer and she flees into the woods, after a hasty white rabbit, and tumbles down a long hole… to Wonderland. In this land of fantasy and apparent impossibilities (grow or shrink quickly, disappearing cats, talking animals)—including things Alice doesn’t want to lose in her real life either—she seems to be liberated from the oppressive, responsible reality, but turns out to be to have ended up in the rain. In Wonderland, she will have to grow up and make big decisions faster than ever, although fantasy and limitless possibilities seem to go hand in hand. Perhaps this can be done later in the real world, and it won’t be as black and white as Alice may fear.

From a substantive point of view, there is nothing wrong with the theme. Alice’s growth within the story is clearly visible. She changes from observant to decisive, assertive, and even leadership and mature qualities such as loyalty and perseverance are well tested. No, the problems of the film, to get them out of the way just as quickly, have to be sought mainly at the plot level. When Alice arrives in Wonderland, she is immediately plunged into her own prophecy, as were the children in ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’. She is destined (if she is the right Alice) to overthrow the evil red queen (Helena Bonham-Carter) by killing the hideous Jabberwocky monster. There is a danger that she will in fact be lived and has little to decide for herself in the story. Although she will make her own decisions and deviate from the expected path, this is indeed the case in the end. She is expected (also by the viewer) to fight the monster, and actually she has little choice. It would have been nice here if there had been real motivation. Why is she so eager to defeat the monster? Yes, she paid a visit to the Red Queen and it was no sweetheart, but she doesn’t seem very personally involved with the country or its people. If her love for these people or her hatred for the red queen were obvious now, the viewer could feel more for her. Now it is not clear whether she is fighting for Wonderland or to demonstrate her own bravery (for herself). And that makes her decision somewhat mechanical.

Finally, it is a pity that the emotions of Alice are not acted a little more realistically or more tangible by Wasikowska. The actress generally reacts quite appropriately and intelligently to what’s going on around her, but – which is often a problem in these kinds of films – the impression the yet incredible and threatening environments and characters make on her is something on the tame side. side. At the very least, she should experience the new world and strange happenings with her mouth open and perhaps a few squeals of amazement. And when she comes face to face with the Jabberwocky herself, who builds up into an improbably gruesome beast throughout the film, she should still – despite her bravery – be visibly terrified. Especially when the beast chases her and threatens to tear her to pieces. Due to the relative detachment in these kinds of scenes, it is never possible to completely lose yourself in the film. It is always obvious that the creatures and monsters were later added by the computer and that the actress only had a tennis ball or an innocent-looking doll as an opponent.

While these can be important objections, it depends on the viewer how much value they place on them when looking at the whole picture. Because, you can’t ignore the fact that the film is a visual feast of size and entertainment with a capital “E”. Purely based on the beauty of the images and the many visual jokes Burton manages to cram into the film, you should see the film more than once. You really look out your eyes; if you blink, chances are you missed a fun or interesting detail: an expression of a beast on the side of the screen; beautiful, expressionistic art direction in the background: there is a lot to experience.

What stands out almost immediately is the humor in the film. From the dry facial expressions of the Lord (Leo Bill) who wants to propose to Alice, you know the movie is going to be a lot of fun. Whether it’s the cuddly, chubby twins who never agree, the mischievous frogs in the Red Queen’s court (one of whom is convicted early in the film for stealing pies), the ADHD tenderloin tea table of the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), the incompetent, and slightly hot-tempered red queen, or the endearing bloodhound Bayard, who often at least puts a warm smile on the viewer’s face, there’s something on every corner of Wonderland. find some entertainment. And yes, Depp himself is also quite nice, although his presence is actually especially valuable because of his connection with Alice, who is (or should be) the heart of the film. It was of course expected that his role would be expanded to give Depp a platform, but fortunately it is not exaggerated.

The world of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ is breathtakingly designed and animated. The color palette is an interesting combination between Burton’s usual grey, washed-out colors and a strong emphasis on the color red. It perfectly strikes the balance of tone of the film – dark, dangerous, and mysterious on the one hand, and wonderful and lively on the other. But the animations of the different creatures are also impressive. The hair, eyes, and broad smile of the Cheshire tom, the sad look of the bloodhound, the rubbery structure of the frogs, the tics of the manic tea bunny, it all comes across as very convincing. When almost all the beasts also turn out to be talking (and are voiced by greats like Alan Rickman and Christopher Lee), and they often have depth or a personal background, it’s not hard to believe that they are getting real characters. For example, the large, furry beast that wounds Alice early in the film turns out not to be all evil, and even the Red Queen doubts her policy of terror (sowing) is the right one.

Yet, despite all the nuances, in the end it’s just a battle between good and evil, which sometimes surprisingly resembles typical heroic epics in the vein of ‘Excalibur’ or ‘The Lord of the Rings’. This last film (edit) in particular seems to have influenced some of the choices made by Burton and his regular composer Danny Elfman. From that film, the white city of Minas Tirith can be seen in the film, as does the resolute monster-slayer Éowyn, the way the sword is introduced, and even the swelling or lyrical music that accompanies these kinds of heroic moments. It’s not a huge problem, because the execution is competent enough, but it can distract from the individuality of the film.

Tim Burton’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ does a lot of good, and continues to captivate with its humor and visual splendor (which is further emphasized in the 3D version). At the same time, it is not a film that will stay with you for very long because of its story. As successful as the film is in many ways, it could have been much more impressive if Alice’s motivations and emotions had been more tangible. Now ‘Alice’, instead of the modern genre classic it could have been, has become “just” a special, and extraordinarily entertaining film. In short, go see it!

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.