Alice in Wonderland (2010)

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Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Flashy and Unfocused

It was only a few days ago that news of a sequel to Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland is in the works with projected director, James Bobin. Some of us are also familiar with ABC’s hit show, Once Upon a Time, which features some of the major characters from Wonderland. Coincidentally, this fall, Once Upon a Time is set to air its spinoff television show Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. Beyond that, there have been countless film portrayals and video games involving the very same Alice. Clearly, the tale of Alice is a popular one. Obviously, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland is high on the list of adaptations, but in the long run, is it really the best choice of the bunch?

Mia Wasikowska takes a stab at playing Alice this time around. She plays a young woman, rather than the typical young girl associated with the role. After an awkward marriage proposal, Alice stumbles down the rabbit hole and finds herself in a world found only in a fantasy with impossible characters in every direction. Apparently, this world has a bit of its own prophesy involving the slaying of a dragon by a famous girl named Alice. From the time she was a young girl, Alice has had only one constant dream – wonderland, or to be more specific – she dreamt of the movie every night. It would appear to her that her dreams were in fact reality, and to get out of this nightmare she had to slay the famed dragon. Along her path, she meets characters we would expect to find in Alice in Wonderland, and runs into obstacles she can only describe as impossible.

What you’re going to notice right away is the fact that this definitely feels like what we already know about Alice in Wonderland – generally speaking, that is. There is definitely more than enough Tim Burton flare bombarded throughout the film. Yes, some of the shots in the film are quite stunning, but the real problem arises when the focus inches away from Alice just in order to show what can be done visually in this day in age. Unfortunately, the focus also fails to stay on track when it came to Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter.

There was no question about it; the film should have clearly been titled Mad Hatter in Wonderland. Before the movie was even released, even the posters would primarily center on the Hatter. The same can be said about the theatrical trailers. Alice’s expressions throughout the entirety of the film were so lackluster, but Mad Hatter was jubilant, colorful, funny, and memorable.  You ask me, I would tell you that somebody somewhere did not understand the point of the story. Alice isn’t just the main character, she is the title character. For crying out loud, her name is literally in the blasted title, it doesn’t get any clearer than that.

I never read the original story, so I can’t personally tell you the differences. What I can say is that whether it was or was not accurate, it felt accurate. The dialogue felt as if it were read straight out of a book, all of the characters seemed spot on, the acting for the most part was great, and the music fit right in. This is a great pick for someone that isn’t so familiar with the traditional story, but there are also modern films about Alice that may be a better pick for those that are anal retentive about accuracy and keeping things real. There is no real need to have too many flashy things, it may look cool, but it disengages the audience from what they should be paying attention to – Alice.

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