R3view: Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Director: Tim Burton(Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow, Batman, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)
Novel: Lewis Carroll
Screenplay: Linda Woolverton
Producers: Joe Roth, Jennifer Todd, Suzanne Todd, Richard D. Zanuck, Tim Burton
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham-Carter, Crispin Glover, Anne Hathaway
Additional voices: Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen, Alan Rickman, Barbara Windsor, Paul Whitehouse, Timothy Spall
MPAA Rating: PG
Running time: 108 min


Synopsis:
For every generation a new version of Alice in Wonderland must arise I suppose. With this newest incarnation, Tim Burton puts on a visual treat fest in which a much older Alice, now in her late teens, once again falls down the rabbit hole into a strange wonderland. Meeting several odd and zany characters, both friendly and beastly, Alice must discover her true wit and help lead the good Queen of White in defeating The Red Queen and her minions for control of Wonderland Underland.

read all of our reviews below…


Andrew:

Here it is: more proof that 3D is a gimmicky flop pulling the shroud of deceit over the eyes of viewers. As I sat watching a visual treat of the highest order it dawned on me more than once at how delectable the sights were and how distracting it would have been had the 3D up-conversion been used on my print; forcing me to wear overpriced glasses to look at an inferior and distracting product. But enough gripe about the industry’s slant and let’s get to the praise for the 2D (as it was filmed and intended) version of the picture.

It must be admitted from the outset that I’ve never read Lewis Carroll’s original novel of the same name. I’m told it was quite dark, mysterious and even political in its overtones. I’d venture to guess however that Tim Burton’s version (one of seemingly hundreds of adaptations) manages to keep a lot of that darkness intact and if one knows what to look for, likely a lot of the political stature is there as well. One example of Alice walking across a sinister looking moat using only decapitated heads to stay afloat says a whole lot of twisted stuff all on its own I think. But in true Disney fashion these moments of darkness and drugged out macabre are easily balanced with cartoony characters, gorgeous settings and fun, if typical, action adventure.

Also admitting that I’ve never been too interested in Alice in Wonderland as a story (I’ve seen several of the aforementioned adaptations and not really any of them captured my imagination or even my attention), I have to admit walking into Burton’s vision with apathy and visions of the fairly boring and clunky Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus reeling in my head. But Burton managed to surprise me on a couple of levels. First and foremost is the imagination with which locales and characters are realized and displayed. From the moment The Red Queen’s castle appears on screen, I was hooked. The details in the optically illusive surreal imagery toys with our mind’s perspective (again, something very likely lost in the 3D version) and the cinematography around every turn is entrancing. Rightfully so, Burton takes CGI technology and uses it for what it should be for this particular venture: a surreal and dreamlike artful experience; NOT photo realism.

Now take the wonderful visuals and add to it the endless display of really fun characters and voice acting and you’ve got what is, despite a story that’s been told hundreds of times, a version of the tale that holds up beautifully and sits quite nicely (perhaps even better) next to Disney’s animated version of 1966 (considered by most to be the definitive version). This is probably Helena Bonham-Carter’s finest performances (by far the stand out of the movie) as the Red Queen and having it juxtaposed with Anne Hathaway’s Giselle-like (Enchanted) performance of The White Queen is onscreen delight. Throw in all of the great voice acting from Stephen Fry, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, Michael Sheen and Paul Whitehouse into the mix with their delightful but zany characters and it’s a seriously great time in the cinema. Hey, when nearly everyone in the film (even the talking dog) upstages Johnny Depp in your movie, you know you’ve got something special on your hands.


Jandy:

I went into Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland reimagining with few expectations other than some great art direction and scene-stealing caricatures from his standard cast of Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. I could tell from the trailers that it wasn’t going to follow the exact story of Alice that I’m used to from Disney’s version, but not having read “Through the Looking Glass,” I’m not sure how much is based on that versus just springing from Burton’s imagination. That’s something I should really find out one of these days. The story we get, though, I quite enjoyed – the real world frame story set the stage nicely, creating both a sense of normalcy and not-belonging for Alice before she tumbles into the rabbit hole. The elements of prophecy and ongoing strife between the Red and White Queen and Alice’s place in it, should she choose to accept it, are all well-told and intriguing.

One thing I was really hoping was that Johnny Depp wouldn’t totally upstage the rest of the cast, and I’m happy to say he mostly didn’t – there were a few times when I thought he took it too over the top, but mostly Mia Wasikowska was right there holding her own in an impressive performance. Helena Bonham Carter is great as the Red Queen, too, and in fact, I’m curious to hear what people think about the contrast between the Red and White Queens. Obviously the Red Queen’s rule devastated the world, turning a lush, happy place into a barren wasteland and enslaving its people, but there was also a hint that her cruelty was a reaction against neglect and derision she’d received growing up in comparison to her perfect sister. ***SPOILER***: show content

Perhaps I’m also reacting to the difference between Bonham Carter’s strong performance and Anne Hathaway’s weaksauce one (I’d never want the Red Queen in charge, but I kinda questioned the White Queen’s efficacy as well – Alice would’ve been a better queen than either).

But that aside, I really enjoyed the interplay between who Alice was and who she could become, and the way both the prophecy and her own decisions played into that. There’s a lot of girl power in this film, and it all just flows out of the story and characters without a lot of attention being called to the feminist overtones. The one technical nitpick I had was the somewhat uneven CGI – it often looked fairly realistic (as in the backgrounds and some of the characters), but other times looked really cartoony (Tweedledum and Tweedledee). I wish the look had been more consistent. Oh, and one more thing I liked – the costuming on Alice’s dress as she changed sizes was pretty clever, if a little convenient at times.


Kurt:

*Mild Spoilers*

For those of you who believe this Disney-fied, Tim Burton update of Alice in Wonderland has been bereft of dark and subversive playfulness of the original Lewis Carroll story, consider the following. Alice, no longer a child but rather on the cusp of womanhood, is being forced into an arranged marriage by her mother after the death of her father precipitated the loss of his business and wealth (and therefore independence) to a fellow lord (who happens to be the father of Alice’s fiance-to-be.) At the site of the painfully arranged proposal (care of uber-shrew future mother-in-law) Alice flees the scene, leaving the question unanswered, and follows the White Rabbit down the hole into ‘Underland,’ a place she has only vague memories of as a child. The former Wonderland, no a ravaged and tumultuous place, is more-or-less an hallucinogenic cocoon for her own burgeoning willfulness which is first hinted at by Alice’s refusal to wear a corset and stockings to the engagement party. Her first significant encounter in her own ‘dream’ is with the blue caterpillar who declares that she is the “Wrong Alice” – she is simply not yet fully formed and the movie is the fantastic version of puberty (the growing and the shrinking) and growing up.

The familiar rogues gallery in Underland try to rope Alice (wrong version or not) into the local prophecy of grabbing the Vorpul sword and fulfilling their desires to be free of the petulant Red Queen’s oppression by slaying Her Majesty’s pet dragon (The Jabberwocky). So her marriage in the real world, a Victorian subservience to male dominated society, is in effect Alice being forced to (eventually) grab her sickly husband’s ‘member’ and fulfill her societal obligation. And it is thus echoed by her being forced to go after the ‘sword’ in surreal Underland. While Alice eventually does ‘grab the sword,’ it ends up being off-script (she even forms a platonic friendship with a hairy beastie that draws her first blood – “can’t we just be friends?”) from the prophecy. In the re-written Underland history, Alice succeeds on her own terms. The way she slays the Jabberwocky is by chopping off its head at the long (again, penis) neck, exposing a bleeding red (vagina) and the final exit of Underland completely (even cockily!) sure of her own independence. The battle is underlined by CGI playing cards fighting CGI chess pieces (in effect, Alice putting away childish things for adulthood) in the background.

She returns to the real world (only a scant minute or two in passing) and denounces her arranged marriage and instead deigns to becomes the executive partner to her former-future-father-in-law. Alone and in control, she strides the prow of a sailing ship, before her the open ocean of possibility (and of course, the commercial and financial subjugation of China; good luck with that A!) while the aforementioned caterpillar (now an azure butterfly) flits on her shoulder before taking flight and and pointing the way forward.

Coming around full circle after punting Burton on his keister for not conforming (er…creative differences), the Edward Scissorhand director has delivered an expensive non-conformity tale to the Mouse-House that celebrates freaks and oddballs in a sweet and positive light. Is the new Alice in Wonderland not surreal enough or too straightforward? With the bump in age of the title character, having her achieve faster and greater understanding of her own subconscious Wonderland is the reasonable approach and it works well here (besides the production design does the heavy ‘surreal lifting’ anyway.) If the original book was a representation of a young child overhearing and failing to process adult conversations, filtering the contradictions and difficulties of the adult world through paradoxical fantasy, then the new older Alice is more in control and the storytelling style reflects that. In short, is this version neutered by a studio? Hardly. Alice does the castration herself, making this actually one of the brighter kids flicks from 21st century Disney.


Marina:

What ever happened to the Tim Burton I came to love? The aging goth who bent the rules and put on screen slightly twisted stories? Even the friendliest of the bunch had an air of darkness in the shadows but over the last few years. Burton seems to have lost his touch and Alice in Wonderland is proof of that. What should have been a marriage made in heaven is nothing more than an endlessly pretty film with little going for it beyond great visuals.

I can appreciate the changes in story and the aging of Alice to help in creating a character and story that is more than simply one encounter followed by another but what it really feels like is an excuse to extend the screen time of some of the secondary characters, primarily the Hatter played, rather dully, by Johnny Depp. For her part, Mia Wasikowska is quite expressive in her role though it feels she’s not on screen nearly enough, while other talents (Crispin Glover particularly) are flat. The few exceptions are the voice talent who do an admirable job and Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway as the Red and White Queens respectively. They’re both bigger than life, their performances full of bombastic expressions and dialogue and it works but alas, they too are given little to do.

Alice in Wonderland could have been a great film but as it is, it’s a dull, uninteresting piece of entertainment from a director who has, for the last few years, been suffering from a nasty case of diminishing returns. Here’s hoping Dark Shadows and Frankenweenie fare better.


John:

I really think that Burton’s Alice deserves more than the 3.5 out of 5 that I am giving it. I deliberately stayed away from the 3D version of the movie as the idea of retrofitting a 2D movie into 3D seems pointless and I really feel that the movie is better in 2D. The sets are stunning as are the character designs (with the exception of the CGI for Crispin Glover who I thought moved in a way that didn’t look right). The story had enough twists and turns and played with the original material in such a way that it felt like something different than the previous incarnations. The reason I am giving it a 3.5 only is that my movie going experience was pretty much ruined by the woman in front of me who decided to browse the web, check her email and do various other things on her smart phone. I spent the first half of the movie quietly swearing at her under my breath up until I told her to turn it off. I plan on revisiting Alice in Wonderland before it leaves theatre as I was entertained in between the annoyances and I believe that watching it again without the constant distraction really will make me love it.


Consensus:

Just a smidgen shy of a ‘classic’ but pretty solid work from Team Burton and Team Disney nonetheless, Wonderland survives its 10 year ‘growing up’ in to Underland, and the cast of lovable freaks (standard in a Burton Join) is as handsome as they ever have been. The surrealism is there, but it is a little lighter and a little more emphasis on actions over words. The staffs mileage certainly varied on how endearing Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway were in their roles as Underlands competing Monarchs, but there was agreement that the ‘distinguished British actors’ role-call for Voice acting was superb. Finally, the central role played by Mia Wasikowska is satisfying work. On the whole, probably best to have a peak at this, we recommend seeing it in vibrant 2D.

Average score:

 
 

 
 


Relevant Links:
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Marina Antunes
Guest

Kurt – your reading into the story is nothing short of brilliance and almost enough to entice me into a second viewing but I can't bring myself to do it. I just can't – I disliked too much to sit through it again.

Jandy Hardesty
Admin

lol @ Andrew.

Marina, sounds like you were disappointed that Burton played it a little too safe for you? Just curious, and this may not be a question you can answer, but if it had been any other director (with the exact same film) do you think you would have been as disappointed?

I forgot to mention all the smaller character roles, but yeah, they were all fantastic. The moment the Cheshire Cat came on screen was when I sat back and went, yeah, I'm gonna enjoy this. Perfection. The dormouse was great, the March Hare cracked me up…yeah. I still wish the animation on Tweedledum & Tweedledee hadn't been quite as cartoony, but by the end, I stopped noticing even that. I kinda feel like on rewatch, I'd go up to four stars instead of three and a half.

Marina Antunes
Guest

Jandy – great point and one that I've considered. The disappointment part certainly comes from the fact that I had expected more from Burton but even if this had been some first time director or someone else entirely, I still wouldn't care for the movie. I found it messy, trying to cram too much into the story which really, just left it completely flat for me and generally, it didn't hit too many positive notes. Aside from looking nice (and even then, only in that CGI, over produced sort of way – with the exception of the costumes and the opening scene which I *loved*) and the occasional good performance, I just didn't care for it. Indifference is what I felt and that's the real heartbreaker.

David Brook
Guest

Damn I wish I had the time to get in on this R3view, because I'm with Marina (and I saw it in 2D!). The film just didn't engage with me at all, it was all so flat (no 3D related pun intended) and lifeless. It looked nice, but even then it didn't feel like a particularly new vision, just Tim Burton-lite. The overuse of not particularly impressive CGI didn't help, giving it a glossy, uncanny sheen. I much prefer to see Burton's gothic imagery in the flesh so to speak. On a positive note I liked Helena Bonham Carter and the Cheshire Cat, they always gave the film a boost when they came on screen, but no one else grabbed me as such. I thought Alice herself was a little bland and uninteresting, she was supposed to be this quirky woman who defies convention, but she never sold it to me, just coming across as dull half the time. Plotwise it felt too much like a retread of the original story, which made the idea of having Alice older a little pointless although on a whole that worked. The second half just gets into textbook fantasy adventure territory too, but without enough weight behind it to make it exciting.

Overall I'd probably give it a 2 star rating, maybe 2 1/2 like Marina, I really didn't get into it at all.

Marina Antunes
Guest

David – sounds like you and I are on exactly the same page. I will disagree with one tiny thing – I did like Mia as Alice, she was good I just didn't find she was 1) given a whole lot to do other than look unshure and 2) she didn't seem to have as much screen time as the effects.

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rot
Guest

I saw it in 2D, and they didn't serve kool-aid at my theater… are you people crazy? That was one of the worst films I can remember seeing in a theater, dull, soulless, uninspired, unspectacular, unfunny… you could hear a pin drop during the film where I was, any kind of jokes or whimsy fell dead in the aisles. This was like Return to Oz bad. How did you people like this movie? How especially Jandy and Kurt who were all over Avatar's ass about it being just spectacle? This was just spectacle, and a colossal failure in that regard. I remember Ebert saying about Hook how he never-never wanted to go back and while the kid in me enjoyed Hook well enough I can understand his sentiments carried over into Underland, its so DULL… a dragon and a chessboard?! I thought Harry Potter repeated itself, did that really need to be done again? Characters have no function, they just waft about, here is the Cheshire Cat, oh here is Tweedle Twins, or here is the Hare, when all else fails just take directly from the source material, and pad the rest with stuff from Harry Potter, and call it a day.

fucking horrible. I wanted to leave immediately. I wish I saw it in 3d, that gimmick would have been the only purpose for seeing this film.

Jandy
Guest

Ha, I wondered when someone would call me/us on liking Alice and giving grief to Avatar. I'm heading in to a film now, but expect a response later tonight or tomorrow from me, because the first thing I thought when walking out of Alice was "what worked here for me that didn't work for me in Avatar?" Looking forward to Kurt's response, too, but really, if you read his review above and didn't latch on to the amount of subtext in Alice that's totally absent from Avatar…

Kurt
Guest

My response is in the review, it's a loopy feminist tale about a girl taking charge of her own life, grabbing one sword to chop another off (so to speak). I find the Harry Potter films to be 10 times lazier (albeit with much of the same 'british master-actors in the supporting roles' vibe and the HP movies lacking the brevity and momentum of this one-off Alice movie. Alice has the good sense to keep things simple and riff off the original material while updating things both to an older alice, and also to reflect (some) of the social mores of the 21st century). I never got that the film should be 'funny' per se. Is comedy a necessity? It wasn't snoozy in the way Narnia was.

Maybe that this was far better than the average Disney effort (and better than any of the Pirates of the Caribbean, and if the trailer is any indication, better than the gawdawful looking Prince of Persia movie will be. It has the grace to have an idea and carry it through to conclusion anyway. More than can be said of most of these types of spectacle blockbusters these days. Albeit, Avatar does the same, more or less, without the energy or quirk in the performances.

Furthermore, the 'mourning the loss of fantasy' as we grow older, is a soft-spot of mine, whether it be the ending of Lord of the Rings, Hellboy II, Time Bandits, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, Where The Wild Things Are, Merlin (TV Mini) or Alice in Wonderland (2010), it gets me every time! (And it appears that Ms. J.K. Rowling doesn't get it, but then again she can roll in her huge pile of money and not care…)

Andrew Hosley
Guest

If there was one adjective I could pick to describe this new adaptation, it would be "dispirited"

David Brook
Admin

I was thinking about bringing up Avatar before too but chose not to. Personally I much preferred Avatar. They're both all about the spectacle of course, but Avatar's narrative, however cliched and cheesy, was actually quite engaging and I was caught up in the fight for Pandora. Alice on the other hand just seemed so uneventful, things just happened one after another and as Rot pointed out characters just drift in and out without really adding anything to the story. I disagree that it had to be funny, but there were moments that were probably supposed to be and failed. Johnny Depp's dance at the end for instance was painful. What the film should have been though was exciting or at least captivating, but instead it was a load of scenes we've seen before in other Alice incarnations strung along a feeble story with an overabundance of uncanny-looking CGI.

David Brook
Admin

Just to add to that, when I said I thought the story was just one scene after another, that's not to say events were totally random, it did make sense generally, but it had no drive or drama.

rot
Guest

no drive, exactly David, scenes just hung there and felt devoid of energy or sentiment. I sometimes, though not lately, have anxiety dreams just before seeing films I highly anticipate, and in the dream I am watching the worst train wreck possible of the film and I squirm watching it in horror. This is the first time I can remember seeing one of my anxiety dreams onscreen, and I didn't have anything invested in Alice beforehand, it was just that bad. For all the shit I said about Iron Man, it is a hundred times better than this, its crime is mediocrity, this is barely functioning as a film.

Subtext does not save a film, at least for me. That some things in a film are allegoric, and that conceit can be pieced together, means nothing to me if the text itself is not valuable in itself. The subtext in this is pretty obvious, as it was with the source material. As a spectacle Alice is horrible (I hope we can agree on that?), as a narrative it is much worse than Avatar, she has to get some sword to slay some dragon, and there is a good queen and a bad queen and a monster guarding the sword… I mean for the love of God, I am hoping no one is defending the actual story here. So all you have left is subtext, the conceit, the bare bone ideas, to which I don't find in the least clever or profound, and most of the worthwhile ones were already there in the source material. The Disney cartoon is sooooooo much more engaging and affecting then this. The bad queen in the cartoon is actually terrifying, Helena is never terrifying. The anxiety of madness is never adequately portrayed in Burton's especially with the Hatter who is actually quite boring, particularly when he would resort to Scottish accent…. the CGI is astoundingly bad, nothing seems to have any weight, when Tweedle Twins clap their hands there isn't the slightest bit of believability that there are two objects touching each other.

I know we are not going to agree on this, but of all the times we have differed in opinion this to me is the most bizarre, the subjective art theory has left the building, I don't see how anyone can look at this film and not just tolerate it but actually praise it.

kurt
Guest

To each their own, but Alice's journey through Underland is sort of a tour-bus type approach, but it his her DREAM, and it plays out well enough. The Red Queen is more like a spoiled Child, and the White Queen is the condescending older sister. I rather liked (as Jandy picked up on) that The White Queen is not that much better. I liked the Hatter as somewhat deranged puppet master, and the films 'uncanny' to me read as very very pretty. Very fitting into the Burton style. And since Burton usually sides with the freaks, it is fitting that he doesn't have them all as obstacles to Alice but rather companions. I'm rambling here, but really not aiming to convince you Rot as you seemed to be pretty authoritative in your hate towards this picture.

rot
Guest

no I agree there is absolutely no common ground between us here 🙂

Jandy Hardesty
Admin

Okay, a few reasons I'm prepared to defend Alice and not Avatar. Firstly, ditto Kurt. Alice has subtext, something to chew on, things to think about and evaluate rather than just look at.

Second, Alice is a world of shades of grey. As talked about above, this isn't a good versus evil fight; it's a evil vs. lesser evil. That's more interesting in a way, and the fact that when I got to the end, I'm still going, but wait, am I really happy the White Queen won? Is at least interesting. You can argue it's poor storytelling (as I wondered above whether it was intentional or not, or if they should've made it more explicit if they meant the White Queen to be as poor a ruler as she seems to be), but the more I think about it, the more I like it. [Contrast to the more I think about Avatar on ANY level, the less I like it.] Avatar is an almost painfully black and white world with no shades of grey, hence, less interesting and less thought-provoking.

Third, Alice engaged my imagination. Apparently it didn't engage yours, so we probably won't find anything to talk about here. But I was constantly led to think ahead, to wonder how things connected – why is Underland a wasteland? What was it like before? How is this prophecy going to play out, and how is Alice going to become the Alice of the prophecy? What relationship do these characters and events in Underland have to the frame story? How does Alice being 18 affect the story, and how do her recurring childhood dreams play into what's unfolding now? Avatar never made me wonder anything; it just showed me everything. It didn't need my imagination; all it wanted was a passive consumer, not an active viewer. Alice gave my mind more to do, more to think about.

Fourth, it felt like Alice gave me more backstory. The frame story is always in the background, of course, informing what's happening in Underland (and vice versa), but as much as can be given that Underland is basically in Alice's imagination, Underland had history. It had a before, it had a contrast to what Underland is like now. It doesn't have an existence outside of Alice, because it's her dream, but it DOES have an existence outside of the immediate story we're being told – it has prophecies and legends and family feuds, some of which are more hinted about than outright told. I didn't really feel that with Avatar, and the more I've thought back about it, that's the thing that bugs me the most about it – the Na'vi SHOULD have a really rich backstory and history, and aside from a sacred tree where they can talk to their ancestors (but who were their ancestors? What are they saying? Why should I listen to them?) and the tidbit of story about the former Turok-machtor, which is told transparently as a plot device to clue Jake into taming the Turok, there seems to be very little beyond the present.

Fifth, and this kind of goes back to the imagination thing, I have a personal affinity for stories that deal with the imagination itself – Alice had me with that before she even went to Underland. Imagination and storytelling are things of great power to me, so stories about characters who use their imagination and who use storytelling itself to work through their problems have a huge leg up.

And no, I don't actually agree that Alice is horrible as a spectacle, though the spectacle was not primarily why I liked it. I primarily liked it because it made me think and probe into the meanings behind it. But I also thought it looked nice. I did mention an issue with the CGI, but it was because the CGI was uneven between characters. If they'd decided to go cartoony with everyone, I'd have been fine. You mention that you got no feeling of "realness" from Tweedledum and Tweedledee – well, they aren't real – they're figments of Alice's imagination, so I'm not sure why you'd expect them to be real. I wasn't calling for realism so much as consistency.

rot
Guest

I still do not get it. and I am curious, have those who are praising it now seen the Disney cartoon, or for that matter read the book? I wonder how much of the enjoyment of the film is a matter of the sheer novelty of the story.

With regards to the Good and Bad Queen, I would say it is a distinction between bland and blander… I don't quite see how The White Queen was particularly evil, she was white, she smiled a lot, she never wanted to hurt a living thing. I didn't notice any edge to her character… the blandness seems unintentional.

I particularly loathed the way the film went beyond the rule of three to explain the main elements of the 'plot' four even five times. The framing scenes existed without nuance, they were solely a grocery list of characters and phrases to be subtextual-ized in Wonderland, the callbacks were astoundingly bad. Hatter is going to do his dance, all the good ones are mad, it takes any of the subtlety of the source material and paints its meanings in big bold letters.

Jandy Hardesty
Admin

I have seen the Disney cartoon, and I'm not sure this one is better, but I do find the older Alice an interesting twist and one worth seeing this version for. It adds another layer onto the story. I have read the book, but many years ago; I have not read Through the Looking Glass. I get that some (or a lot, even) of the things I like about this Alice can be attributed to the original story rather than to Burton's film, but that's fine with me. Burton's telling of it didn't get in the way of that, and I liked the things he did do with it. It sent my imagination in different directions than the animated version did, and that's all I ask of new adaptations to find value in them. Perhaps that's my academic interest in seeing what different people choose to bring out of an existing story.

Okay, well then, evil vs ineffectual. But re: "never wanted to hurt a living thing" – a lot of the Red Queen's issues are based in being passed over/neglected/ridiculed in comparison with the White Queen, acts that the White Queen seems to be complicit with if not actually initiating. And the White Queen reinforces that with her banishment speech at the end – there's at least the implication that many of the Red Queen's negative actions can be traced back to her treatment at the hands of the White Queen and her family (that doesn't excuse the Red Queen's actions AT ALL, but it also brings that edge to the White Queen that you say is missing). Also, even though she explicitly makes the point that she manipulates dead things rather than living ones like her sister, I thought the White Queen was pretty damned creepy when she was making the potion to resize Alice. She gloried in the grotesquery of it. I do think Hathaway let down the character somewhat, but I think the complexity was there.

rot
Guest

I read the potion scene as a bad joke myself. and I see your point about the Red Queen's punishment at the end but that is awkwardly tagged onto the end, it just hangs there for me, and certainly doesn't impress upon me any kind of character development to be worth investigating.

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[…] going to be really lazy for this one and just paste chunks of what I wrote on Row Three’s Alice R3view comments page: The film just didn’t engage with me at all, it was all so flat (no 3D related pun […]

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