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DISNEY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Tim Burton
Cast:
Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover, Michael Sheen, Matt Lucas, Stephen Fry, Alan Rickman
Writing Credits:
Linda Woolverton, Lewis Carroll (books)

Tagline:
You've got a very important date.

Synopsis:
Tumble down the rabbit hole with Alice for a fantastical new adventure from Walt Disney Pictures and Tim Burton. Inviting and magical, Alice In Wonderland is an imaginative new twist on one of the most beloved stories of all time. Alice (Mia Wasikowska), now 19 years old, returns to the whimsical world she first entered as a child and embarks on a journey to discover her true destiny. This Wonderland is a world beyond your imagination and unlike anything you’ve seen before. The extraordinary characters you’ve loved come to life richer and more colorful than ever. There’s the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), the White Queen (Anne Hathaway), the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter), the White Rabbit (Michael Sheen) and more. A triumphant cinematic experience – Alice In Wonderland is an incredible feast for your eyes, ears and heart that will captivate audiences of all sizes.

Box Office:
Budget
$200 million.
Opening Weekend
$116.101 million on 3728 screens.
Domestic Gross
$331.533 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Descriptive Video Service 2.0
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French

Runtime: 109 min.
Price: $44.99
Release Date: 6/1/2010

Bonus:
• “Wonderland Characters” Featurettes
• “Making Wonderland” Featurettes
• Sneak Peeks
• Bonus DVD
• Digital Copy


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Alice In Wonderland [Blu-Ray] (2010)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 24, 2010)

Question of the day: does Tim Burton create remakes? Over the last decade, he’s raked in the big bucks when his movies covered well-trodden ground. 2005’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 2001’s Planet of the Apes and 2010’s Alice in Wonderland all became big hits. In addition, all had already famous film counterparts from earlier years – editions that’ll likely exhibit greater “staying power” than the Burton versions.

Should we consider these to be remakes? I don’t – I see what Burton does as readapting, not remaking. To me, a remake takes a cinematic property and essentially just recreates it with some tweaks. Instead, Burton goes to pre-film sources and readapts them. Is this a fine line? Sure, but I think there’s a difference involved, and it’s one that potentially means Burton’s movies will offer more than simple remakes.

Or maybe not, as I think none of the readaptations I’ve cited managed to surpass the earlier flicks. Apes and Charlie were both pretty weak compared to their predecessors from 1968 and 1971, respectively. In addition, virtually nothing on display in Burton’s Alice makes me want to forget the Disney version.

19-year-old Alice Kingsleigh (Mia Wasikowska) finds herself trapped in a chilly, lifeless world. She’s expected to marry stuffy Hamish (Leo Bill) though she doesn’t find this prospect appealing.

When Hamish proposes in front of the gathered masses at a party, Alice revolts and runs into the woods. There she falls into a rabbit hole and finds herself smack dab in a mysterious, fantastical world called Underland.

But not for the first time, apparently. As she wanders through Underland – which the younger Alice called “Wonderland” - Alice encounters plenty of odd characters who regard her either as savior or threat. We follow her adventures with the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter), the White Queen (Anne Hathaway) and others as she attempts to deal with the upside-down reality of Underland and face her destiny as the one to slay the Jabberwocky and restore order to the land.

Once upon a time, I was totally in the bag for Tim Burton. Pee-wee’s Big Adventure remains one of my all-time favorite flicks, and from 1988’s Beetlejuice through 1996’s Mars Attacks!, I either liked or loved each one of his flicks.

1998’s Sleepy Hollow became the first chink in Burton’s armor. Oh, I didn’t dislike the movie, but it didn’t do a whole lot for me. Apes and Charlie were mediocre to weak. Big Fish and Sweeney Todd worked better, though I didn’t think either quite qualified as great.

Alice falls firmly in the same territory as the flawed reworkings of Apes and Charlie. Rather than go for the sense of skewed nuttiness one might expect from Alice, Burton attempts more of an action flick vibe. There’s little comedy on display, as the film usually digs into Alice’s quest and the confrontations that eventually lead to her battle with the Jabberwocky.

The lack of balance makes Alice surprisingly dull. The film wants us to view events as wild and wacky, but they seem forced, and it lacks much in the way of charm or poetic whimsy. Instead, it bludgeons us with its aggressive nature.

On one hand, I appreciate the fact that Burton doesn’t just give us the umpteenth rendition of the same old Alice; it’s refreshing to get a new spin on the tale. However, I think he goes too far astray, as the movie fails to deliver the enchantment one wants from a tale such as this. It feels like he simply used the basic Alice characters and altered them for his own means without any regard for the spirit of the source material.

Burton also focuses way too much on the visual effects. CG pervades the film and often feels gratuitous, as though Burton decided to use those elements because he could, not because he should, and that becomes a major distraction. I spent too much time thinking about how the movie executed its visuals and too little feeling absorbed in the story or characters.

In addition, Burton tends to mistake elaborate production design for actual flair or inventiveness. Not much real creativity emerges here. Burton creates a detailed but not very interesting vision of Wonderland, and the visuals fail to add to the experience. I respect the craft involved but don’t think the movie ever threatens to transport me anywhere.

In terms of the cast, Wasikowska seems utterly forgettable as Alice. As featured in prior films, young Alice was always something of a cipher; the nutty inhabitants of Wonderland were the ones meant to be interesting. That’s still somewhat true here, but given the heroic nature of the part, the 2010 Alice needs to be ore charismatic and bold.

She’s not – at least not as depicted by Wasikowska. This Alice just seems dull and whiny. She’s neither likable nor unlikable; she’s simply kind of there, and she lacks the personality to carry the movie.

Of the stars involved, Carter does the best; indeed, she becomes the only spark of life here, as she creates just the right kind of snippy, self-involved personality required. When Carter appears, she threatens to make the movie interesting, though she can’t overcome its inherent dreariness.

Depp seems to always get high marks for his work, but I can’t say much for his performance here. Oh, Depp certainly isn’t bad as the Hatter, but he seems a bit self-conscious in the part. His Hatter isn’t particularly mad or charming, and occasionally it feels like he’s a prominent character just because Depp’s involved, not because the story requires it.

At no point does Alice threaten to become a bad movie, and I will admit I liked it more on second viewing. However, that’s more due to the fact I felt utterly bored during my theatrical screening than charms I found on Blu-ray. Alice attempts to reinvent an old tale but does so with mediocre results.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio A-/ Bonus C+

Alice in Wonderland appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Though not quite as dazzling as I’d expect, the transfer still looked quite good.

Sharpness was usually very nice. A few wide shots showed minor softness, but those instances were infrequent. Instead, the movie usually seemed accurate and concise. I noticed no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement failed to create distractions. The movie came free from any source flaws and looked clean from start to finish.

Colors became a strength. The movie didn’t go with terribly lively hues, but it favored a good sense of reds and oranges that looked warm and full. Blacks were dark and tight, while shadows demonstrated nice clarity. Only a little softness knocked my grade down to a still strong “B+”.

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Alice worked even better. With its many action scenes, the movie boasted a dynamic soundscape with plenty of material from all five channels. The track became the most compelling during the battle-packed third act, but it offered a great deal of involvement the rest of the time as well. Various elements zoomed around the room and created a fine sense of environment throughout the film. It even chopped in a lot of well-placed directional dialogue to boot.

Audio quality seemed satisfying. Music appeared full and lush, with nice highs and deep lows. Dialogue was consistently concise, and effects provided positive delineation. Those elements added strong low-end response as well and made sure this was a compelling soundtrack.

Despite the film’s massive box office success, this Blu-ray doesn’t include a ton of extras. Under Wonderland Characters, we get six featurettes that run a total of 27 minutes, 56 seconds. These include “Finding Alice” (5:25), “The Mad Hatter” (6:04), “The Futterwacken” (3:22), “The Red Queen” (5:56), “Time-Lapse: Sculpting the Red Queen” (2:40) and “The White Queen” (4:28). Across these, we hear from director Tim Burton, costume designer Colleen Atwood, makeup artists Patty York and Joel Harlow, visual effects supervisor Carey Villegas, associate producer Derek Frey, dancer David “Elsewhere” Bernal, makeup designer Valli O’Reilly, makeup/hair designer Paul Gooch, property master, Doug Harlocker, producers Richard Zanuck and Joe Roth, screenwriter Linda Woolverton, director of photography Darius Wolski and actors Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Mia Wasikowska, Mairi Ella Challen, and Matt Lucas.

These pieces look at cast, characters and performances, costumes and makeup, various visual effects, and the “Futterwacken” dance. Though I expected these to be fluffy little tidbits, the featurettes actually give us a surprising amount of depth. All the actors offer nice insights into their performances, and we get excellent thoughts about various visual elements. The programs dig into the subject matter well.

Making Wonderland provides an additional six featurettes that fill a total of 19 minutes, 29 seconds. We get “Scoring Wonderland” (3:10), “Effecting Wonderland” (6:54), “Stunts of Wonderland” (2:32), “Making the Proper Size” (2:24), “Cakes of Wonderland” (2:34) and “Tea Party Props” (2:05). Over these, we find notes from Burton, Frey, Carter, Villegas, Depp, Lucas, Wasikowska, Harlocker, composer Danny Elfman, co-producer Tom Peitzman, senior visual effects supervisor Ken Ralston, visual effects supervisor Sean Phillips, CG supervisor Kee-Suk Ken Hahn, animation supervisor David Schaub, character designer/illustrator Michael Kutsche, stunt coordinator Garrett Warren, art director Andrew L. Jones, cake designers Joan Spitler and Leigh Grode, production designer Robert Stromberg, set decorator Karen O’Hara, and actor Crispin Glover. These cover music, visual effects, stunts and action, and pastry/dishes used for various scenes.

After the satisfying “Characters” pieces, I hoped for more quality in “Making”. Sometimes these programs lived up to those expectations, but other featurettes fell short; in particular, “Stunts” lacks much depth. Still, most of the clips throw out some fun details; they’re not especially rich, but they give us good notes.

A few ads open the disc. We get clips for The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue. These also appear under Sneak Peeks along with promos for Disney Movie Rewards, James and the Giant Peach, Beauty and the Beast, Fantasia, Fantasia 2000 and Disney Parks.

Unusually for Disney, these ads don’t appear as part of a static menu. Instead, they come as a running compilation of clips. That’s too bad; I preferred the easier access of the traditional “Sneak Peeks” menu. No trailer for Alice shows up here.

A second disc offers a DVD Copy of Alice. This appears to offer the same single-DVD version available on store shelves. If you want to own Alice but aren’t yet Blu-ray capable – or if you just want a portable version - it’s a good compromise.

Speaking of “portable”, a third platter boasts a Digital Copy of Alice. This allows you to transfer the flick to a portable gizmo or a computer. Live it up!

Mass audiences really took to Alice in Wonderland and made it a huge box office success. I can’t quite figure out why, however, as I think the new adaptation lacks much entertainment value or charm. The Blu-ray provides very good picture and audio as well as a small but generally interesting set of supplements. The absence of a deep roster of bonus materials prevents this from becoming a great Blu-ray, but otherwise it’s a satisfying depiction of a mediocre movie.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1.4705 Stars Number of Votes: 51
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main