Unreal Movie Review: Alice in Wonderland


There’s no point in telling Hollywood not to remake films and resurrect dead franchises, as they’ll keep doing it no matter what we say. What I will caution studios however, is to stop giving these projects to Tim Burton.

Just because a director has a certain artistic flair, that does not translate into necessarily a good film, and it’s become quite clear that though Tim Burton has filmed some classics of his own over the years, when it comes to re-filming what’s already been made, the man just adds nothing worthwhile, and only serves to taint whatever original film he’s trying to “reinvision.”

It’s thirteen years after Alice made her first trip down the rabbit hole, and she’s grown from a naïve child into a slightly less naïve adult, who doesn’t realize she’s been invited to her own engagement party until her fiancé –to-be is moments away from popping the question. He’s gawky-looking ginger kid, but he’s a lord, so both of their families are pushing her into acceptance. But when she can’t deal with the pressure, she flees the scene, and goes dashing through the adjoining hedge maze where she finds yes, you guessed it, a rabbit hole.

Down she goes, once again chasing that mystical white rabbit of old, but once she’s there, and confronted with a familiar set of faces (a sea of scornful flowers, a fearsome mouse, a stoned, blue caterpillar) she doesn’t recall any of her previous time spent in Wonderland, and the local creatures begin to question whether or not she’s the Alice they used to know.


Is it weird this is one of Helen Bonham Carter’s most attractive roles?

Alice is informed of a new development in the war between the Red and White queens since she last visited. Apparently the Red Queen got her hands on a dragon jabberwocky, and used it reclaim power and strip the white queen of her thrown after a shock and awe campaign of destruction. Now that Alice is back, it has been foretold that she will slay the beast, and return Wonderland to a state of peace once again.

I just simply cannot understand why it is this film exists. A remake of Alice in Wonderland would have been unnecessary enough, but a sequel? Why? And to employ such a simplistic, overdone plot as “outsider fights evil dragon to save good kingdom” is in no way fitting of the wacky Wonderland world that Carroll initially envisioned. It’s much too straightforward of an affair, and I have to believe that a remake would have actually been preferred to this fan fiction, or if a sequel was deemed necessary, at least have it adhere to the sequel Carroll himself wrote, Through the Looking Glass, which was actually more trippy than the original, if that’s even possible.

But besides a mundane and hurried story, Burton’s vision of Wonderland is just rather…tame. For a world supposed to be rich with imagination and insanity, Wonderland seems rather small and ordinary. There’s a mushroom forest, a red castle, a white castle and a big ‘ol chessboard, but outside of that, the surrounding atmosphere of Wonderland just seems relatively ordinary and uninspired. The same goes for the “wacky” creatures that populate the landscape. Sure, it’s necessary to see our old favorites, but Burton has brought nothing new to them at all. The March Hare, the Caterpillar and the Cheshire Cat look like someone was told to bring the 2D animations of the original film to life in 3D, and to not bother changing anything at all in the process.


Yes, you have correctly rendered a smiling, floating cat in 3D.

What is different, as you’ve likely already seen, is Burton’s vision for the more human characters, the Tweedles, the Red Queen and of course, the Mad Hatter. I have to say the highlight of the film for me was the brilliant animation of the first two. The CGIing of real faces on oddly distorted bodies is an effect I didn’t think would work, judging by the trailer, but it actually ends up being the only worthwhile use of animation in the entire film. Helena Bonham Carter’s Red Queen is without a doubt the highlight of the movie, and her bobbling head and her bouts of uncontrolled rage inspire the only parts of the film worth watching.

Depp’s Mad Hatter on the other hand is a completely unfinished, yet at the same time, extremely overdone. Far too much time was spent on his outward appearance, with every detail of his makeup made to exemplify his madness, but as a character, he’s extremely undeveloped, and I was perplexed by his accent which switches between English fop and Scottish burr on a regular basis. I couldn’t tell if this was done purposefully, to imply some sort of schizophrenia, or if Depp and Burton really didn’t just know how best to present the character and just hedged their bets.


Mad? Yes. Interesting? No.

There’s just nothing new to see here, and this is simply a movie that never needed to made. The Red Queen still plays croquet with flamingos and hedgehogs, the March Hare and Mad Hatter still sing the same zany songs while drinking tea out of broken cups and the Blue Caterpillar is still smoking that fat blunt. The only real difference is that somehow amidst all this, Alice puts on some armor and fights a dragon.

If they were just going to keep all the same set pieces and dumb down the plot, I don’t know why they just didn’t re-do the original film the first place, as the film doesn’t even bother adding a subtitle to itself to claim that is not in fact a remake. This sequel offers nothing, carries no emotional weight and doesn’t even paint a particularly visually interesting picture of Wonderland. It just…is. And that’s not nearly good enough.

2 out of 5 stars


“I love my fatboys!”

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  1. Thank you! I thought I was the one going mad when reading the positive reviews. The casting was great all around, but they took one of the most versatile actors on earth (Depp) and gave him nothing to do. His switch between accents was confusing at best. I couldn’t even understand half of what was said during the entire tea party scene. The dance at the end was just plain embarrassing. And why was it so important to get his Hat back to him exactly?

    Helena Bonham Carter’s Red Queen was great. She broke up the monotony of watching Alice wondering around the castle hallways for 20 minutes talking to person after person about finding a hidden sword. Then another 5 minutes of stale cliche “make friends with the monster” scene.

    There were at least 2 or 3 scenes racing between the Red and White castles and that landscape looks like the drier parts of California. Sparse plants, some hills, and dusty gravel. How interesting for Wonderland.

    I kept wanting to see the characters like the Cheshire Cat be whimsical and a little sarcastic. Part of the charm of the story was the amusing interactions between Alice and these strange creatures. But he really never said anything interesting. He certainly kept going on about that dance and that hat though.

    Finally, the battle scene was dull as can be. I wasn’t looking for action obviously, but its a battle between chess pieces and a deck of cards. If Tim Burton can’t make that look zany or even mildly interesting then he really has gone mainstream.

  2. Well I already left my opinion on the other post by Natty (the one with the COED review), so I won’t repeat myself here. A couple points I will mention, however, are that I agree that nothing new was really brought to the table and that the movie was totally predictable.

    Do you not wish that somehow the story would have taken a turn at some point so that the outcome wasn’t exactly what was presented on the calendar scroll thingy?

    This movie was f*cking frustrating to watch, especially since my expectations were so high.

  3. I totally called that this would suck; I have no idea how anyone could have thought otherwise – unless they’re a totally casual moviegoer, I guess.

  4. The frustrating thing with Burton is that his hardcore followers are fanatics. You even slightly criticize the man and you’re a terrible person who deserves to die. In my book, like most directors or creative types, he’s made some fantastic films, some that are all hype, and some that are downright terrible. I love “Ed Wood,” but have never been too keen on his Batman flicks in the long run, for example.

    That said, I was really hoping the inherent psychological content/symbolism/depth in Alice would hold up even with Burton’s visual method of storytelling. It seems as though that is not the case.

  5. The disappointing thing about this is that Tim Burton from 15 or 20 years ago might have done this story some justice.

    Burton’s best stuff has always been when he gets to run loose with original ideas. I loved Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice and Nightmare Before Christmas. He did a pretty good job with Pee Wee and Batman too, even though those weren’t original ideas.

  6. I understand that it is now cheaper and easier to do everything on computers in the world of today, but my God. My hopes for this movie were so high and they were soon dashed from the beginning while she was falling down the hole. If it looks fake, I am withdrawn from the story completely. It all looked fake! The Red Queen looked good, but I can’t remember one thing other than her that impressed me. Why does a dog need to be CGI and talk? Maybe if they kept him from talking he would’ve been cuter, or if he was a real dog that talked. I don’t know. Why did the Jaberwocky have to talk? Why couldn’t he just have been a wild monster like he was built up to be? The rabbit looked fake, the caterpillar looked fake, the pig she put her feet on looked fake, the dog and puppies looked fake, the twins looked fake, Crispin Glover looked fake because for some reason he had to be eight foot tall, the cat looked fake. I guess what I think they should have done is just make Alice and the Hatter CGI and maybe it would have all looked okay, like Shrek or something. I was completely underwhelmed. Worst role by Johnny Depp, by far, especially because there was so much to work with. Maybe it was because most of the time he was talking to a tennis ball on a stick in front of a green screen. Of course I could bitch about this all day long, but I won’t. I just want to ask this. Why did she go back to the real world? It seemed apparent at the first of the movie that she pretty much hated her life. Was I the only one that sensed that she had nothing going for her? And where did her immediate idea to ship directly to China come from? Where did that come from? So she left Wonderland to become a business woman? I didn’t buy that shit for a second. It was a quick end to a forgettable movie that should have been Tim Burton’s return to the realm of awesome filmmaking. Whoever told him that his original style wasn’t good enough for the masses and that he needed to make changes to his process, needs to be shot. And if he came up with that idea on his own, then I have officially lost faith in one of my favorite directors.

  7. honestly, i remember reading this story when i was a child and thought, wtf. might be a fun movie to watch when you are high, but that’s every movie…

  8. I agree with postal in their comment on the hatter’s dance. It came suddenly and unnecessarily out of nowhere, and it completely killed what mood the film had established. Since when has the somewhat realistic hatter been able to spin his head around and move with robotic-like agility?

    And this is only semi-related to the film, but I’ve been curious as to whether or not Carrol was implying that (playing) cards were inferior to chess due to one being the lumbering and slightly clumsy minions of evil, while the others are dignified soldiers of good??? Or perhaps i’m reading too much into nothingness.

  9. I seen this in 3d on Sunday night and although I enjoyed the experience as a whole, it’s probably not a movie I would watch again.

    As already described; the fact that the ending is given away when Alice first his Wonderland is dissapointing to say the least and the lack of overall substance in a movie that was based on possibly the most interesting Disney cartoon of all time is simply ridiculous.

    I have to agree that The Red Queen is the most appealing part of this movie. HBC was fantastic in the role and despite Tim Burton’s clear lack of diversity in everything he does and how tired his stupid curley wirley hills and gothic trees are getting, he hit the nail bang on the head with the direction he took with this character.

    I get what you’re saying about the Mad Hatter being under developed but I have to say, I loved how he would go in and out of the Scottish Broag depending on the situation i.e. when he felt threatened or when he’s not playing the vulnerable Hatter…for anyone to question why this was happening or to consider it “confusing” as one guy did is simply moronic. It’s clear that it was put in place to describe his schizophrenic nature.

    I too liked the “Fatboys”. they were something different that I wasnt expecting and worked well. The rest of the characters, although being simple 3d versions of they’re former selves were also pleasing as, lets be honest here, we didnt go to see “Alice In Wonderland 3D” to see a completely different movie with little reference to the original and the voice acting on all these characters was superb.

    So to sum up, I would say that should they make a similar type of remake with say, Phantasm…DO NOT give it to Tim Burton and DO NOT tell us how the movie will end within the first 20mins!! Could have and should have been a 8/9 out of 10 movie but instead, I’d give it a 5.

  10. I loved this movie, I really did. I’ve seen it twice and will continue to see it. I’m a die hard Tim Burton and Johnny Depp film, and yes I do get a bit offended when someone says something against them, but I do feel you all have your opinion. While this movie wasn’t what I expected, I thought it was great! It was visually stunning and I loved Johnny as the Mad Hatter, and his switch between accents. I was hoping that this movie would be more like the Disney version, not exactly like it, but with similar experiences like her growing in the house, the bitchy flowers, some like that. The only character I thought was weird was the Knave. Crispin Glover looked so strange, his length was a little exagerated and looked off to me. I LOVED the cat, he had the same essence that the Disney version had, but was a little off and I loved him. The dancing at the end was wrong for me, they really should have left that out, it just didn’t fit with the whole mood the movie had established. I am so frustrated that she went back to the real world. I would love to have seen him keep parts of this story, but apply it to a Disney type Alice.

    To end this, I loved the movie, I really, really loved it, but I will aknowledge that it had it’s problems, but none of them were as bad as all these others have been complaining about.

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