Alice in Wonderland - Tim Burton's Fantastic and Colorful World

Friday, May 27, 2016

Alice in Wonderland (2010) - Tim Burton's Fantastic and Colorful World

Disney is known for bringing fantasy adventures to life with a kind of finesse that makes audiences and critics alike take notice (Narnia, Pirates of the Caribbean). Couple with this, almost always, families can be assured Disney backing this ensure the promise of a fabulous time at the box office. 

Alice in Wonderland

Nightmares plague young Alice, intricate ones which involve white rabbits in waistcoats. Her father is the one person who comforts her in these moments, “pinching” the bad dreams away. Now ten years later with her beloved father gone and a mother who drags a reluctant Alice to the proper social functions, Alice (Mia Wasikowska) learns that her future has already been mapped out sans her knowledge or approval. Just as her beau is proposing marriage, Alice spots a white rabbit, and she promptly dashes after it. When the sneaky creature disappears down a hole, Alice peers down the dark opening only to fall headlong the never-ending hole that leads straight into Wonderland and strangely, her dreams. 

Under the tyrannical reign of the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter), Wonderland is not what it once was. She seized the kingdom from her peaceful sister, the White Queen (Anne Hathaway) who remains in seclusion. Escorted by a pair of disputing twins, a harried rabbit and a tiny, but fearless mouse, Alice learns she is here to fulfill a prophecy, but the small band comes under attack while all of Alice’s companions are captured leaving her to wonder the strange place alone, while seeking the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) to set things to rights. 

Any major blockbuster has to have multiple things one thing going for it, not unlike that of the trade of a skilled juggler. Things that help include an impressive budge and film work, an all-star cast to carry it, and of course, the inevitable promotion. Add in the Disney name and you have a recipe of magical brilliance. Alice in Wonderland has been a story loved for generations, so it was only a matter of time before it would transition to the big-screen in a live-action picture. Earning the title of highest grossing movie to date (in 2010), one can see just why it garnered such admiration. It’s a fantastical adventure overflowing with all kinds of mishaps, danger and an epic battle, but above all is a lovely little Victorian costume drama that maybe suffers its greatest fault in trying to be a “proper” Victorian piece.


Alice in Wonderland

In the overall scheme, I wasn’t fond of the costume design, nor was the filming adequate in the style of a refined pastime, which might have transported us into the midst of a garden party with its simple beauty. Its opening therefore leaves something to be desired, never quite accomplishing or exuding confidence of its representation. The director instead depicts cloudier settings where Alice stands out overmuch during this sequence. Granted she should being the heroine, still it’s almost painfully apparent in comparison to the other party goers. Neither her dress nor hairstyle appropriately matches her surroundings, nor does her pale appearance help things. Later established aspects are shown as to why these are a purposeful detail.  

Having said that the costume design is unique, this cannot be argued. One of the prettiest is Alice’s “red dress” as seen when she attends the Red Queen. The White Queen’s wardrobe is always angelic, while the Mad Hatters’ is so bright and quirky. Costume designers pull together a design that compliments everyone. (Perhaps the most important wardrobe piece was the Hatters’ hat, he isn’t quite right without it, you know.) The special effects are incredible, even those filmed with a green screen are impressive. Backgrounds were very intricate and imaginative as one expects of director Tim Burton. Though everything eventually works itself into a better pace (after a rough beginning), once we set foot in the mythical land, nothing is quite the same again. Unlike the classic cartoon, this is more of a “grown-up” story of a beloved heroine who takes a self-examining journey. She discovers who she is, and of more importance, who she wants to be.

Alice in Wonderland Johnny Depp

As per usual of anything of this caliber, acting is first-rate, but we do experience some unease where newcomer Mia Wasikowska is concerned; she plays Alice with a sense of disorientation in the first ten to twenty minutes, perhaps explained away by her character unhappy in her circumstances. As usual, Johnny Depp is fabulous (these “wacky” roles always suit him), while Anne Hathaway gives her usual lovely performance. Even Helena Bonham Carter is an outstanding villain – there is just something about her shouting “off with his head!” or “I need a pig here” that is spot-on for her character. (Talented actor, Alan Rickman also lends his voice in a distinct manner.)  

If asked if this would be something I’d recommend, I would without question, so long as it would be to the right person, because no matter what, it cannot be argued, this is different. It’s the kind of different that isn’t soon forgotten and a journey, we wish to experience all over again. It’s like a grand painting that comes to life with beautiful nuances of bursting color where everything is seen in a whole new way.  

CONTENT: There are some “terrifying” creatures that might frighten youngsters. The film is rated PG.


  1. I love how different people view things eh, well, differently. I had high expectations, because I love most of Tim Burton's work, I love Mia and I love Alice. But this film didn't do it for me. At all. It was slow, not daring enough and felt more steampunk than proper Victorian. As in: rewriting some of the victorian social rules. It's a fantasy version of the world that Carol created, and the best thing about Alice in Wonderland is dat the fantasy part in Wonderland cotrasts with the strict and limiting world of the Victorian age.
    So, it lost that. And the effects were not enough to impress me. Not a classic for me.

    1. I agree, Daenelia. It is great how everyone sees things so differently. :)

      I'm not a classic literature fan in that I read all the classics, so when I see an adaptation like this, I judge it strictly as a cinematic work of creativity. I respect your thoughts on this and agree to some extent. This one didn't quite become the "best" fantasy picture for me, but it was entertaining and most of the time, right or wrong, that's all I "demand" of the films I watch.

      I did feel like the worlds contrasted quite well in terms of Alice's emotional mind (i.e., she was so miserable in her mother's world of tea and parties), but visually and creatively, no I don't suppose there was that great of a gap.


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