Feature Film Blog: Alice in Wonderland is Wonderland-ish.

Met with a “lukewarm reception at the box office”, Disney’s first attempt with Alice in Wonderland in 1951 left the Disney team only with a rental success and not a box office one. Now, 61 years later, Disney is taking another crack at the famous Lewis Carroll series but with great names like Tim Burton and Johnny Depp behind its production. Released just last Friday, Alice in Wonderland (2010) is another take on the classic story mixing live action with newly developed animation but it seems that the only reason it will be a box office smash is because of the names associated with the film, not the film itself. Alice in Wonderland is beautifully animated and staged but the plot has little to no substance and is not engaging enough to be seen separate from its 50’s version of the same name.

After seeing Alice in Wonderland, I was left with a sinking feeling that something was missing and that I did not enjoy myself as well as I thought I would. That missing part, after a long time of mental debating, was the plot. Drawn from Carroll’s novels and the 1950s cell-animated version, the story focuses not on a young Alice but a 19 year old Alice who revisits Wonderland and is prophesied to defeat the Dragon, Jabberwocky, and take the kingdom away from the evil Red Queen. This plot seems to be a new take on the story but overall it doesn’t seem to be much after you watch it. Instead of highlighting the characters and the story, the movie rushes through and centralizes all its efforts on the prophecy and highlighting the mega star, Johnny Depp. Besides the apparrent extra amount of film focused on Depp, the movie also highlights extreme amounts of action and danger. Basically the movie is all modern Hollywood and not enough Burton’s usually quirky style of film-making.

The animation on the other hand, is the saving grace of the film. Sprawling fantasy lands and castles, Wonderland is  a true wonderland. But the real focus of the animation was on the characters in the film. We all remember the characters from Disney’s 1951 version and they are still part of the modern one. One of my favorite animated characters is the Cheshire Cat.

Cheshire CatCheshire Cat (2010)

The Cheshire Cat retained his same large smile and wacky pose but was updated with his peircing green eyes and slight color change, allowing him to look more like his landscape and be a bit more mysterious than the original. Another good example would be the Red Queen an Actress, Helena Bonham Carter, who’s head was blow up 3 times its normal size.

Helena Bonham CarterRed Queen

The makeup and the act of blowing up Helena Bonham Carter’s head allowed for the team to encompass the character and make it unique. The animation in the movie is most definetly highlighted by these characters moreso than anything else.

Overall Alice in Wonderland is Wonderland-ish. It wants to be Wonderland but it only made it halfway there, even though it may be enjoyable by Hollywood standards, its just not what it should have been.

Published in: on March 11, 2010 at 5:07 PM  Leave a Comment