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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 10 June 2010
My expectations were high. Too high perhaps. That much is true. ..But as a fan of Tim Burton and someone who thoroughly enjoyed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I feel as though my expectations were justified.
The Tim Burton/Johnny Depp mixing pot is something that so consistently delivers quality cinema. Alice in Wonderland it seems though, is the exception to this rule.
The original book is of course enchanting, the yester-year Disney cinema offering is magical, but this new fangled all singing all dancing affair just doesn't cut it.
It's a big long gimmick really. The special effects are very good, that can't be denied by anyone - the boffins and geeks who were in-charge of the cgi deserve high praise indeed. And furthermore, the actors play their parts flawlessly. It's a well crafted movie, expertly put together by a veteran film maker.
But it lacks any real magic. It's just TOO polished. Too slick, too perfect, too shiny. It has no character, no depth, no soul. And much like so many recent modern movies, it feels like a technical exercise rather than a piece of story telling.

In summary, this is not for me. It's sugar-coated entertainment for the masses. This type of film-making clearly has an audience, but sadly I'm not part of it. I prefer my cinema with a few less bells and whistles.
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Alice in Wonderland is a familiar tale, it's been told many times and there are countless film adaptations (including the `fifties animated Disney film). Instead of retelling an already established story, Tim Burton has instead created a sequel of sorts where an older Alice revisits the place she recalls from a recurring dream.

When I heard that there was to be a new Alice in Wonderland film made I was doubtful that it could work, but when I read that Tim Burton was directing I knew it would be in safe hands - he is one of only a few directors I could imagine creating a world with the gothic, otherworldly appearance required. The result is a fresh look at well known characters in a different adventure, so Burton has the freedom to break from the original without upsetting purists - as long as he stays true to the characters of course.

The general look of the characters and their surroundings is both magical and whimsical, it resembles the illustrations I remember from my Lewis Carroll book while also looking new. It has the trademark Burton look and has the usual collaboration with Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and perhaps more essentially, Danny Elfman. The cast has been chosen with care, most characters are CGI and the voices behind them convey the various animals and people well.

The characters seem to be in keeping with both the original book and established idea of what the cast should be like through years of various re-tellings. The Hatter could perhaps have been darker, but the pseudo-schizophrenic mania and colourful look are enough to bring him to life. He's given a personal history too to give extra depth, there's also a great flashback to the original meeting of the young Alice with the tea party which marries the new story with the old. Alice herself is an interesting character, she doesn't fit in with Victorian English society. Her strong minded, questioning attitude is more comfortable in Underland (we learn that the term "Wonderland" is a result of mishearing the actual name of the place!). By the end of the film Alice seems to represents the new age of women who would go on to play major roles in society rather than blend in at home.

I have two young girls who absolutely love this film, and therefore it's been played many times over the last few weeks. It's with repeat viewing that you realise how wonderful the dialogue is. The script has been crafted to produce something which is modern, but also has a flavour of the Victorian era. It's often fanciful but with very prim delivery, it sounds very unique (e.g. "What a regrettably large head you have. I would very much like to hat it."). The narrative sounds distanced enough from the norm to give the impression that this is a very different reality.

My main criticism of the film is the over-reliance on CGI. There are only one or two characters who aren't either completely generated or modified by CGI. The film looks amazing, there's no doubting that, and the film exists within a beautifully dark fantasy world - but some aspects of it seem as though they're straight from a console game, they look obviously CGI which takes away from the overall viewing experience. I can't help but wonder what this would have been like if it had been animated using stop-motion like the brilliant Nightmare Before Christmas.

The special features on this set aren't exhaustive but they do provide an insight to the greenscreen technology used and they explain the ways in which the Red Queen's head was enlarged and how the Hatter's eyes are still Johnny Depp's despite being considerably larger. The film looks fantastic on Blu-Ray (which I've lent to my dad!) but I've been watching the DVD which is a great transfer and doesn't suffer from bad digital noise or artefacting. The digital copy currently lives on my wife's iPod and the small screen actually makes the CGI effects look even better and look more `real' - it was dead easy to do as well, it just took a few minutes and now we can watch the film on the move.

In a nutshell: This Alice in Wonderland film needed to ooze creative energy to do justice to the original illustrated story, and Tim Burton succeeds in doing just that. The film takes the familiar characters and creates a twisted fantasy world for them to live, the plot threads various elements from the Alice in Wonderland story together in a way which makes sense and doesn't feel as though everything has been included just for the sake of it. The visual effects team have gone to town with computer generated imagery and it's a visual spectacle, but sometimes looks a bit too digitally played with.
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on 24 June 2016
Love this film, I went to the cinema recently to see the sequel 'Through the Looking Glass' and promptly pre-ordered it for hen it comes out. This film, like the sequel is beautifully coloured, fabulous costumes, and well acted, I was so glad the sequel had the same actors in despite a 10 year gap between films, great for keeping the continuity going. The story is not quite how I read it a million years ago as a child, but it is brilliantly told and portrayed in pure Tim Burton style, which gives it a bit of a twist, and who are we to say that Lewis Carroll might have loved to have told it this way if he was here today!
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A clever family film in which the 19-year old Alice returns to the magical world which she had originally visited at the age of six but had convinced herself was just a dream.

This is a "marmite" film e.g. one that some people love and a significant number of other people really hate. I was one of the people who loved it.

The story fuses elements of Lewis Carroll's original books "Alice in Wonderland" and "Alice through the looking glass," particularly the poem "Jabberwocky." It is more of a sequel than a re-interpretation though there are elements of both.

This film is significantly darker in tone than, say, the classic Disney film or even the original books, and I would not recommend this for a very young child who might find certain scenes frightening. However, my two eight-year-olds enjoyed the film and had little difficulty with it (they hid their eyes or behind mummy once or twice). The story appears to be at least as much intended for the adult members of the family as for the children, and the saccharine sweetness of most interpretations of the Wonderland story are almost wholly absent.

In places this film is very funny, exquisitely beautiful, or very exciting, and often several of those things at once. The first thing which makes it fun is the many excellent performances by the star-studded cast.

Mia Wasikowska is delightful as the 19-year old Alice, and Johnny Depp suitably manic as the Mad Hatter. He plays this role in an entertainingly zany and unpredictable way, most of which worked for me, though some aspects of the performance - the way he turns on and off a strong Scots accent, for instance - may not work for everyone.

The villain of the piece is an evil queen played by Helena Bonham Carter. In terms of Lewis Carroll's books, this character is an amalgamation of the Queen of Hearts from "Alice in Wonderland" with the Red Queen from "Alice through the looking glass." In terms of how Helena Bonham Carter plays the Red Queen, her mannerisms, style, childishly imperious arrogance, self-centred megalomania, impulsiveness, and even her tone of voice are quite blatantly derived from Queen Elizabeth the First as played by Miranda Richardson in the second series of Blackadder (link: Blackadder 2 - The Entire Second Series [1986] [DVD]). For me this works brilliantly, though I can see why some people, especially those who never saw Blackadder or didn't like it, may not get the joke.

Crispin Glover is amusing as the Red Queen's evil henchman Stayne (the Knave of Hearts).

The Red Queen's sister and antithesis (the White Queen), is played by Anne Hathaway, who comes over as irritatingly goody-goody: I think this was meant to be quite deliberate.

Much of the show is stolen by the CGI characters, particularly the Cheshire Cat (voiced by Stephen Fry), Absalom the blue caterpillar (voiced by Alan Rickman,) and the Dormouse (voiced by Barabara Windsor). In the books and the classic Disney film the Dormouse is a soporific character, but in this film she comes over as Reepicheep on steroids. The Jabberwocky is a looming threat for most of the film but when it finally appears for the climax, a combination of superb special effects and a marvellously threatening voice provided by Christopher Lee make the beast magnificently scary.

Other cast members worth a mention include Tim Piggott Smith who has a charming cameo as Lord Ascott, the business partner of Alice's father: Geraldine James as his ghastly wife who wants Alice to marry their equally ghastly son Hamish (Leo Bill), and Tim Spall as the voice of a bloodhound called Bayard.

The artwork was stunning: in places "Underland" is incredibly beautiful, in other places it looks ruined and devastated for reasons which soon become obvious but which I don't want to spoil the story by giving away. Several creatures which are just names in the books - the frumious bandersnatch, for instance - are brought magnificently to life by CGI in this film.

(The original manuscript which Lewis Carroll gave to Alice Liddell was called "Alice's Adventures Under Ground" and the name "Wonderland" was only added when the book was subsequently published. In the film the characters refer to the magic realm where most of the action takes place as "Underland" and one of them suggests light-heartedly that the six-year-old Alice had misheard the name as "Wonderland.")

These days the viewer is used to films with special effects of such a high quality that we tend to take them for granted, but the special effects were particularly brilliant in this film. The manner in which Alice is seen to grow to much above her normal size or shrink to be far smaller, the way the Red Queen's soldiers look like playing cards while those of the White queen look like chess pieces, the ruined landscape of Underland, and particularly the way the Cheshire Cat fades into and out of existence, all made impossible things look astonishingly real.

For Lewis Carroll purists: the film clearly comes down on the side of the debate which says that the character of Alice is largely fictional, and not based on the real person (Alice Liddell, later Alice Hargreaves) for whom the story was written. Towards the end of the film Alice gives her surname as Kingsley, and her father had been a businessman with ambitions to set up a trade route to the Far East. In real life, Alice Liddell's father was Headmaster of Westminster School when she was born and shortly thereafter became Dean of Christ Church, Oxford. It was at that time that the Reverend Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll's real name) became a friend of the Liddell family.

Overall I think this is the best Tim Burton film I have seen.
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on 15 April 2016
I've always been a fan of the disney film and I've thought others have been terrible until Johnny Depp and Tim Burton came along and made it so much more fun and engaging, it has an incredible line up, whether it be faces or voices, it ticks all the boxes for a fun, crazy, action packed adventure, way better than the disney version, another film that has a high re-watch value and couldn't fault it, can't wait for the second film to come out.
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on 29 September 2012
I have bought this for my 20 year old daughter for xmas , she was wanting Disney dvd's and i asked for a list of which ones she wanted and this was on the list . She has a 20 month old daughter and a little boy due in 6 weeks so she will enjoy showing them the dvd's she was brought up with . You can't beat Disney films .They are for all ages and never get bored of watching the films over and over again ..Now her children will be brought up watching the same.
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on 16 October 2015
My mum bought this to watch with my daughter who loved it so i decided i would purchase the film to enjoy. It was so cheap and works perfectly, came packaged up and the delivery was fast. It was half the price of what my mum paid in a secondhand shop for the same film! She was not happy! I however am very happy with this product and would buy from this seller again
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on 5 June 2016
Fabulous film...Tim burton does it again in his wonderful style. The cast, make up and effects are amazing and it makes for a truly entertaining adaptation of the classic novel. Can't wait to see through the looking glass!
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on 30 August 2012
In all honesty, I can't for the life of me understand who this film is aimed at. It's too weird and scary for younger children, it's too dumbed down for literary types or older teens and it's too much of a Tim Burton film for everyone else. The visuals, being excessively Burton-esque as you'd expect, are spot-on, the (virtual) sets amazing and the casting is nigh on perfect. It is, unfortunately, flawed in two very vital ways: firstly and bizarrely, it is a sequel to a film we have yet to see and secondly, Johnny Depp's accent atrocity. I was bemused when Mike Myers did Shrek with a Scottish accent. I winced slightly when Simon Pegg also attempted one for Scotty in the recent Star Trek reboot but I was utterly nonplussed by Depp's effort as the Mad Hatter. At times, it's Mel Gibson as William Wallace and, at other times, it's Tommy Cooper reborn. In fact, if I remember right, he also went a bit Tommy Cooper for Sweeney Todd and Captain Jack too but I digress.

Anyway, the plot, if you can call it that, loosely hangs on the premise that an older Alice has been fated to return and slay the dreaded Jabberwocky, thus ending the Red Queen's reign over Underland. Yes, you heard: Underland. Seems Alice had Glue Ear in the Lewis Carroll original and it wasn't Wonderland at all. Oh, Tim Burton! Do stop spoiling us with your inspired twists on the classic tale! We then encounter all the usual culprits and get to play spot the celebrity voices, which is entertaining for a while and then we get to Johnny Depp as The Mad Hatter. Oh, Johnny. He looks like a version of Charlie Chuck on the run from Pepperland. Or a post-Ziggy Stardust persona that Bowie abandoned for fear of looking too silly. Or a rubbish gang member from The Warriors. However, what he really doesn't look like is the Mad Hatter. Yes, he's wearing a hat and he is apparently bonkers but it's a darkly scattershot performance that proves unsettling for all the wrong reasons; you'll see from his back-story that he's actually suffering post-traumatic stress as opposed to madness. The film's villain, the Red Queen, is played to stroppy perfection by Helena Bonham-Carter. There are a few awkward moments, however, when HBC is under the impression that she's actually playing Miranda Richardson as Black Adder's Queenie instead but I imagine that reference would be largely meaningless to most non-UK viewers. The surprise performance of the whole film however does come from Mia Wasikowska as the woefully pale but determined Alice. Next to the likes of Depp, HBC or even Anne Hathaway alone, a younger actress would struggle to have any kind of onscreen presence but Ms Wasikowska even has to compete with the voice talents of Michael Sheen, Alan Rickman and Stephen Fry and an entire virtual world that seems to have been designed by giggling film students with a severe case of The Munchies. With that in mind, Mia gives us a very measured Alice, neither grating nor encumbering the part with clumsily modern Girl Power sloganeering and that, compared with the honking over-the-top performances on offer elsewhere, seems very refreshing indeed.

Anyway, in line with the aforementioned prophecy, our Alice manages to become the independent young lady she always knew she was, slaying a few personal (and not-so-personal) dragons along the way and, quite inconsequentially, goes into business with an old family friend by the end of the film. I'm sure, if this story were true to the era it fancies itself belonging to, poor old Alice would've been married off to the hideously gawky ginger fellow in the first half hour of the film and that would've been that. This flimsy and somewhat convenient storytelling is what blights the film as a whole. As with most modern FX movies, Alice In Wonderland falls foul of favouring the cheap thrills offered by technology and visuals over storytelling and character development. This doesn't make the film an abject failure but it does leave a glaring emotional gap at the centre of what is essentially a very simple coming-of-age story. All in all, this film is precisely what most blurbs would refer to as a "visual feast" or the lazy old trope of "a world beyond your imagination" but it has a tendency to leave you longing for something more tangible, something real perhaps in amongst all the artifice on offer. For a film that is overwhelmingly abundant with all manner of absurd imagery, perhaps Tim Burton's mandate as director should've been not what could be done but why or if it should have even be done in the first place. Recommended viewing purely because of the sheer scope of escapism on offer but, for my money, Charlie & The Chocolate Factory still remains the most watchable of the Burton/Depp/HBC films of recent times.
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on 26 June 2016
Loved the story since a child. Johnny Depp a favourite actor and so suited to this type of role. Mix of animation and real life excellent. Looking forward to get "Alice Through Looking Glass" on DVD too.
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