Most helpful positive review
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Much better than it has been given credit for
on April 17, 2010
In spite of having to read many negative reviews, I was still curious to see this movie. I not a huge Burton fan neither, although I've enjoyed some of his previous work. But it was something about «Alice in Wonderland» which seemed appealing; its visual look and its quirky characters. Still I had in mind the several hostile reviews, which accused this movie to be a flat, soulless and muddled attempt of a classic, which I also feared it would. But after finally seeing the movie, I can claim my disagreement with the reviewers. In fact, I'm not sure if we even saw the same movie. What exactly was so terrible about it?
Overall, I found «Alice in Wonderland» to be very entertaining. I feared that the movie would lose some of it's magic as the main character entered to Wonderland, but fortunately it never did. I enjoyed the movie from the very start to its very end. It's a cute fantasy/adventure movie, equal to the «Harry Potter» and the «Narnia» flicks (although I personally felt «Prince Caspain» had some slight weaknesses). But beware; there are some frightening creatures that may scare the youngest in the audience, so the PG rating is suitable.
One of the films biggest advantages is it visuals. With it lush and dark landscapes, cute animals and colorful costumes, the flick is beautifully to look at and I can't wait to enjoy the sharpness of the picture on Blu Ray. The score of Danny Elfman is effective and gives the movie a dreamy, atmospheric tone. The characters are mostly passable. They don't steal the show entirely, but neither do they appear as distractive or annoying.
Although I've always liked the original novel of Lewis Carroll, I must say that I found this new twist of the story fresh and creative, depicting the «wrong» Alice's adventures in Wonderland as a young adult. Linda Woolverton, who's behind the excellent screenplays for «Beauty and the Beast», «The Lion King» and «Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey», has written a solid and decent script to «Wonderland». Many have claimed this screenplay to be muddled and confusing, but I didn't felt it that way at all. Once again, did we even saw the same movie?
Mia Wasikowska is quite decent as Alice. Although she doesn't have a distinctive emanation/charisma who characterizes other young actresses at her age, she's still delivers a nice and acceptable performance. Personally I felt her screen presence expanded during the movie. Johnny Depp is indeed a good actor. To claim anything else, would be a like claiming that the climate isn't humid in the rain forest. Although I've never been crazy over Depp's work, he's goofy and great as The Mad Hatter, which is indeed the best character in the movie. Helena Bonham Carter is also believable and funny as the Red Queen (just prepare yourself to hear «Off with his head» at least a hundred times during the movie, ha ha). While Anne Hathaway, on the other hand, is warm and passable as the White Queen (although I must confess it was a little distracting to see her with a blonde wig and with a British accent).
In fact, I can't see anything wrong with this new Burton version of «Wonderland». I truly enjoyed it and recommend it to everyone as possible. It didn't deserve the negative criticism at all, in my opinion. With quality films like this, perhaps I could finally forgive Disney for its recent mistakes? (*Cough, leaving hand drawn animation behind and promoting teen stars as crazy, cough*)
So follow every white rabbit you see and follow him to the hole... Wonderland is waiting...
Unsurprisingly, most of the bonus features lies on the Blu ray disc. However, the amount of the bonus features are disappointingly skimpy. The featurettes are divided in two sections. First are the Wonderland Characters and Making of Wonderland.
First up in the Wonderland Characters-section is "Finding Alice", which is about the casting of main lead. During a short brief or times, there are interviews with Mia Wazikovska, Tim Burton, Helena Bonham-Carter and Anne Hathaway. They bring up Burton's vision that differs from the Novel, the character arc of the protagonist and some of the clothing designs. Wazikovska herself comes off as a humble, mature and reflective young woman.
Next on the list is "The Mad Hatter", which is about Depp's insights on his character. Depp manages to give a brief, but interesting research about real hatters, while he talks about his own sketches and visions for the Mad Hatter, comparing to Burton's sketches for the character. And of course the costume and stylizing of the character.
"The Futterwacken Dance" explains the origins of the fictional Futterwacken dance which Depp's character dances in the movie. The dance was based on an internal joke between the director and Depp. Without spoiling too much, there are interviews with several guys who were in charge of the "Futterwacken".
Next is "The Red Queen", which centers about the origins of the Red Queen. Interviews with Bonham-Carter and technical members of the crew, they discuss the design and the costuming of the character, as well as Helena's own thoughts of her own performance.
"Time-Lapse: Sculpting The Red Queen" is a short video demonstrating the transformation and sculpting of Helena as the Red Queen, while Helena and other make-up artists narrates during the video.
Next is "The White Queen", which is about the creation of The White Queen. Hathaway explains her own, early visions for the character, as well the costuming and the other crew members' thoughts of the character.
The first featurette in the Making Wonderland section is Scoring Wonderland. An interesting featurette about the scoring of the film. During an interview with composer Danny Elfman, we'll receive his thoughts about his collaboration with Burton, as well as his process about the film scoring and especially making the "Alice" anthem. Quite interesting and informative.
Effecting Wonderland is an interesting featurette about the CGI aspect of the film, the creation of the fully CGI characters in the film and how to exaggerate the looks of the human characters with CGI.
Stunts in Wonderland is a brief featurette about the stunt process of Mia Wazikowska.
Making the Proper Size is about the process of giving the character of Alice the proper size. Interviews with Waizkowska and other crew members reveals the process of making Wazikowska look to small or too big in the various scenes in the film.
Cakes of Wonderland interviews a baker which made all the cakes in the final film, especially the Eat Me cakes. She talks about the ingredients which she used in the film to make the cakes.
Tea Party Props centers about the making of the Iconic Tea Party table and all of its props.
So there you have it; Tim Burton's version of Alice in Wonderland. While it's not one of the most memorable movies of its genre, it is still a solid and good movie that has gotten way more underrated than it deserves. The quality of the picture is superb and so is the sound. While most of the featurettes are interesting and enjoyable, there could still have been of more of them. However, this edition is still recommendable for every fan of this movie.