Alice in Wonderland

Release Date: March 5, 2010

I'm sure the bunny down there isn't carnivorous.

On the Big Board
Position Staff In Brief
14/14 John Seal You won't see a worse literary adaptation in this or any other century
102/123 David Mumpower Great special effects are in no way, shape or form the same as a great story. This is one of the great FUBARs of the 2000s, but they're laughing to the tune of a billion dollars.
152/190 Max Braden As bleak as Where the Wild Things Are was, this was as dull despite all the glitz. I can't imagine how 3D would have looked any better than the lousy 2D effects, save for the very cool Cheshire cat

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Lewis Carroll's classic story of Alice in Wonderland has been retold many times, both in television and film. Before Disney's 1951 film, there were six (!) theatrical adaptations. That Disney version is probably the most famous one, but there have also been two BBC versions, a SyFy miniseries, a 1976 porno, an anime television series that aired in Japan, and a supremely strange and disturbing stop-motion animation version by Czech surrealist director Jan Švankmajer. There are numerous comic and manga adaptations as well, along with a rather famous video game by American McGee. Writers as varied as James Joyce, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Joyce Carol Oates, and Evelyn Waugh were strongly influenced by the story, and Batman has The Mad Hatter as one of the villains that appears with some frequency. And there are probably about a million other things that I'm missing. Suffice it to say, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland has been hugely impacting on pop culture, so much so that we often don't even realize that the source material is being referenced.

In Carroll's book, Alice falls down a rabbit hole and finds herself in a strange world where peculiar characters abound. Previous adaptations have relished in finding the darkness and strangeness in Wonderland, so it seems only natural that Tim Burton, a director best known for working on offbeat tales, would helm a new Alice adaptation for the 21st century. And this time, it's in 3-D!

Burton is combining live action and animation to tell Alice's story. Alice is portrayed by Mia Wasikowska, a relative unknown who has received some acclaim for her work on the HBO series In Treatment. Other cast members include Burton regulars Johnny Depp (as the Mad Hatter) and Helena Bonham Carter (as the Red Queen), along with Crispin Glover (the Knave of Hearts), Anne Hathaway (the White Queen), Stephen Fry (the Cheshire Cat), Michael Sheen (the White Rabbit), Alan Rickman (the Blue Caterpillar) and Christopher Lee (the Jabberwocky).

Early images of the film have shown that it looks every bit as weird as you might expect something from Burton to be. That's not necessarily a bad thing - his edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is quite sublime (and pretty true to the spirit of Roald Dahl's book). People are certainly fascinated with Alice's story, and there's apparently a lot of interest in the film from the Hot Topic crowd. We know what they've been able to do for the Twilight series, so we probably don't want to discount their influence. There's also the "Depp Factor", which can reap some big benefits now that he's amongst the biggest movie stars on the planet.

Even so, Burton's version of Alice in Wonderland is a total wild card. It's a film that people are either going to be totally excited to see or they're going to actively avoid. There's just not much middle ground. Burton's visuals seem almost deliberately off-putting, even if they're probably a good representation of the characters as illustrated in the story. Still, people love them some 3-D, and with Alice being the first movie in the format since Avatar, it's got a great chance to score big…at least until the significantly more adorable How to Train Your Dragon comes along later in the month. (Kim Hollis/BOP)


Vital statistics for Alice in Wonderland
Main Cast Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp
Supporting Cast Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover, Michael Sheen, Stephen Fry, Alan Rickman, Christopher Lee, Timothy Spall, Matt Lucas, Paul Whitehouse, Barbara Windsor
Director Tim Burton
Screenwriter Linda Woolverton
Distributor Walt Disney Pictures
Rating PG
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture


     


 
 

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