More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Awesome: 13.11%
Worth A Look: 13.11%
Average: 9.84%
Pretty Bad45.9%
Total Crap: 18.03%

4 reviews, 37 user ratings

Latest Reviews

Lion King, The (2019) by Peter Sobczynski

Stare by Jay Seaver

DreadOut by Jay Seaver

S He by Jay Seaver

We Are Little Zombies by Jay Seaver

Lion King, The (2019) by alejandroariera

Darlin' by Jay Seaver

Astronaut (2019) by Jay Seaver

White Storm 2: Drug Lords, The by Jay Seaver

Vivarium by Jay Seaver

subscribe to this feed

Alice in Wonderland (2010)
[] Buy posters from this movie
by brianorndorf

"Tim Burton, 3-D, Johnny Depp, and a bottle of Jergens"
2 stars

As witnessed throughout much of his filmography, Tim Burton has the uncanny ability to reach astonishingly dark moods while still maintaining a jovial atmosphere worthy of his riotous imagination. Occasionally, the shadows get the best of him. Much like “Batman Returns” and “Mars Attacks,” “Alice in Wonderland” is a Burton vehicle with four flat tires, attempting to pull off a tricky juggling act of whimsy and violence, using author Lewis Carroll’s legendary novel as a playground for the blandest of fantasy visions. It’s a drab feature film molded with garish CGI and acted as if there wasn’t a director on set at all. It’s far from deplorable, but it does represent the filmmaker at his most persistently ineffective.

At the moment of a marriage proposal from a man of unpleasant gastrointestinal potential, Alice (Mia Wasikowska) decides to chase after the White Rabbit, falling back into Underland, a world she once visited in her youth. Now ruled with a beheading fury by the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter), Underland is falling apart, waiting for Alice to return and fulfill a prophecy that has the dainty girl slaying the monstrous Jabberwocky. Stunned by her surroundings, Alice is helped along by pal Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), who pushes the heroine to rescue the White Queen (Anne Hathaway) and restore balance to the land. With the villainous Stayne (Crispin Glover) on the hunt, Alice needs all the Underland help she can find, including the mischievous Cheshire Cat (voiced by Stephen Fry) and the stoic Blue Caterpillar (Alan Rickman).

The title reads “Alice in Wonderland,” but a more accurate reflection of content would be “Alice Has Already Been to Wonderland.” This “Alice” adventure is conceived as more of a sequel, treading where “Return to Oz” and “Hook” already splashed up a storm. It’s an effort to be clever, to restore an element of surprise to a tale that’s been reworked a hundred different ways. Criminally, screenwriter Linda Woolverton (Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”) allows the potential of a majestic “Alice” reawakening to slip through her fingers, instead staging a big-budget retread of events from the initial Underland visit under the guise of Alice’s amnesia (even the talking animals are surprised to see their savior repeating herself). Granted, the new version shows a surprising amount of teeth at time to keep up with Carroll, but the eat me/drink me déjà vu holds no charm or purpose other than to show off a flashy round of unconvincing greenscreen effects (exaggerated poorly in the film’s stale 3-D presentation).

While handling a literary classic with loving hands, Burton slips plenty of his affected madness into “Alice in Wonderland,” channeling most of his vision into the Underland flora and the design of the characters, who all receive extravagantly bulbous, angular make-up and CG embellishment. Burton’s eye for odd is affectionate, but retains a cold touch; it’s almost a parody of a Tim Burton film at times, especially in the execution of the Red Queen, who’s depicted as a massive screeching head on top of a wisp of a woman. “Alice in Wonderland” is begging to be inhaled as a fantasia of creatures and fantasylands, but the lack of practical craftsmanship leaves the film unbearably plastic and soulless, a fact underlined by the humorless, dour script, which seems to view joy as the enemy.

The film’s violent too, with three instances of ocular trauma and, expectedly, a fixation on severed heads. Perhaps this would’ve pleased Carroll, but in a Tim Burton film, the aggression feels about as welcome as tax audit. Call it “Batman Returnsitis,” where the combless maestro wants to indulge his itch for nightmarish imagery while still hoping to delight family audiences. The script already deals with sorrowful themes of madness and dreamscape interpretation, which makes the blunt instances of disfigurement stand out even further.

The actors are lost in the artificial haze with “Alice in Wonderland,” trying to mold characterizations in the midst of a full-throated CG assault. Wasikowska looks the part, but she’s merely blonde wallpaper, popping in and out of the story only when needed. Obviously Depp has the showier role as the Mad Hatter, and the actor does manage to shake up the screen with a wild orange appearance and a wavering accent (Scottish and English) to play up the starry-eyed duality of the character. He’s grandstanding with Burton’s approval, who also prods real-life partner Carter to belch regally as the bellowing queen. Better is Hathaway as the flighty White Queen, and Fry is perfectly cast as the wily Cheshire Cat. There’s not a soul in the ensemble that’s able to break the dreary spell suffocating the film, though I do give credit to Depp for trying, busting out a last-minute hip-hop dance routine as a way to provide Alice with her pre-digested girl power means of rebellion. Now there’s an inappropriate scene if there ever was one.

“Alice in Wonderland” doesn’t accomplish much during its time onscreen, concluding with a chess board rumble of surprisingly little consequence. The film’s bleak and exhausted, which doesn’t encourage the most jubilant of Underland moods. Attempting to burrow into the core of Carroll’s psychosis, Burton wildly overplays his hand, searching for a way to engage younger audiences with an array of anthropomorphic animals and iconic plotting and still plunder potent psychological depths. Burton’s turned “Alice in Wonderland” into a silver screen suicide note, once again mistaking an extended stay in hostility as a directorial statement of integrity.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 03/09/10 00:35:05
[printer] printer-friendly format  

User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell entertaing &visonary 4 stars
6/14/13 Stephanie Grant Once again another masterpiece from the great mind of Tim Burton! 5 stars
10/19/11 Magic Absolutely dispiriting, the cast and crew's disinterest is palpable, especially Burton's. 2 stars
9/09/11 Nancy What a delightful movie. I love Johnny Depp's Mad Hatter 5 stars
5/15/11 stephen nettles Good 3 stars
10/28/10 daniel eastbrecht total waste of time. sterile and uninspired. 1 stars
8/17/10 Lenny Zane Depp should've stuck with likes of NICK OF TIME, Carter with likes of LADY JANE. 2 stars
8/14/10 art anne hathaway great as WHITE QUEEN,helena B.carter equaly GRANd as red queen. 3 stars
8/04/10 Dr.Lao Visually stunning but completely charm free. Wasikowska was just plain boring to watch. 2 stars
7/11/10 Charles Tatum A visual feast, surprising and never boring 5 stars
6/19/10 Sevarian Not a Burton masterpiece but quite enjoyable. 4 stars
6/02/10 Lacey M I love Johnny Dept & it was just a fun movie to watch. However could be better. 4 stars
6/01/10 User Name All of the wit and charm of the original has gone down the rabit hole. 2 stars
5/29/10 Melissa Great family show. Enjoyed the 3D at the theater 4 stars
5/18/10 millersxing Unlike most toothless fairy-tale interpretations, Burton channels the author's imagination. 5 stars
5/07/10 Lenny Zane (Cheshire Cat's about all to like about this.) WHY've they started editing comments, IF they'll retain likes of "Read This" below? 2 stars
5/05/10 Ruby Spinel Make Alice PC.Then put her on a slow boat to China.Too bad pertinence is likely accidental. 2 stars
5/04/10 John C. Lacking, uninspired. There was not much whimsical or delightfully peculiar. 3 stars
4/26/10 Gandydancer Those "enormous stone heads" were just heads, offed at the order of the Red Queen. 3 stars
4/24/10 Total Crap It wasn't great. Cliched like the others say. A rental. Wait for it. 2 stars
4/16/10 ally Don't agree w/ that bit about Wasikowska, to me she just frowned throughout the entire film 4 stars
4/12/10 Durwood This is the film for great effects, not that idiot Avatar fiasco! 4 stars
4/10/10 AC Dull as ditchwater, bad 3D 1 stars
3/29/10 ASS I hated it. Who had the idea to turn the Mad Hatter into Che Guevara? 1 stars
3/28/10 Pat Very accurate review, this movie needed a better script and editor 2 stars
3/27/10 Read This This review is bull - stop writing retard and go kill yourself. 5 stars
3/24/10 R.W.Welch Visually impressive. Okay storyline. C+ 3 stars
3/23/10 lynn I thoroughly enjoyed the movie! 5 stars
3/23/10 Sean Ross Fully agree with this review. Burton's version completely lacks the imagination of Carrol's 2 stars
3/22/10 Stanley Thai It's really worth the money to bring yourself in a magical world filled with wonder. 3 stars
3/22/10 Bean It was Fantastic! I don't get these reviews. Loved it! 5 stars
3/22/10 fred As the original story line it has many avenues.Reality and fiction for the mind. Dragon? 4 stars
3/20/10 brian Technically brilliant. Entertaining. Otherwise vapid; turns Mad Hatter into action hero?! 4 stars
3/11/10 Dawn Tallon The film was magnificent. Review is verbose diartribe.! 5 stars
3/09/10 James Buch Godawful. Turns a classic story into a cliched shitpile. 1 stars
3/08/10 Amy Lindon Unlike word of mouth working for Avatar - it will devastate Alice. 1 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  05-Mar-2010 (PG)
  DVD: 01-Jun-2010

  05-Mar-2010 (PG)

  04-Mar-2010 (PG)
  DVD: 01-Jun-2010

[trailer] Trailer

Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast