4.18.2010

Free Download Alice in Wonderland (2010) Movie

Less than three months after the release and total box office domination of James Cameron’s Avatar, many questions still remain about the promise and the appeal of digital 3-D movies. Was Avatar merely a fluke, or did it lay the groundwork for this technology to be fully utilized by filmmakers and fully embraced by moviegoers? Is 3-D truly the future of storytelling on the big screen, or is it still just a distraction? As the next major 3-D film from a visionary director, many people are looking to Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland for answers to some of these questions.

Once again Disney and Tim Burton have chosen to hang the film on their most valuable leading man, Johnny Depp, expanding the role of the Mad Hatter in the story in order to accommodate him. Depp and Burton have worked together so often over the years that the collaborations are all starting to blur together, to the point where it has now become (ahem) old hat. Still, with all the potential for eye candy here, Burton does manage to offer some genuine moments of wonder in Wonderland, and if that’s all you’re looking for, this is one trip that you might want to take.

The movie is essentially a mash-up of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass (which isn’t a huge issue since the two novels are quite often mixed up in most people’s minds anyway). Alice is 19, and about to be betrothed to a man for whom she does not have any feelings. As he asks for her hand in marriage, she takes a moment to step away and think, only to find herself chasing a familiar white rabbit down a rabbit hole. She re-enters Wonderland, a place that she had previously visited when she was much younger, but apparently forgotten about. Upon her arrival she learns that it has been foretold that a girl named Alice will slay the Jabberwocky, a dragon that is controlled by the evil Red Queen, and free the land from her tyranny. However, there’s just one problem: there appears to be some confusion over whether or not she is actually the right Alice for the job.

With all the focus on the 3-D aspect of this film, it’s important to note that Alice in Wonderland was not actually shot in 3-D the same way that Avatar was. All of the 3-D was added in post-production. There was also no motion capture used; although they did experiment with it initially, they ended up simply using the live action footage and inserting CG characters afterward. The end result is that the world does not feel quite as fully realized and as immersive as Avatar. Granted, it is a more stylized world, and the production time on Avatar was a lot longer as well, but Wonderland is somehow not quite as enthralling as Pandora (interestingly, Robert Stromberg was apparently production designer on both films). At times the environments feel a bit washed out and empty, which could be a result of the 3-D not meshing well with some of the darker colours. Either way, the character designs are still visually striking, and the CG animation work is one of the movie’s greatest strengths.

The movie starts off at an engaging and brisk pace, introducing a number of creepy and intriguing characters all of whom are voiced by inspired British actors including the White Rabbit (Michael Sheen), Tweedledee and Tweedledum (Matt Lucas), Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry), and the Blue Caterpillar (Alan Rickman). By the time Alice reaches the Mad Tea Party, things are really starting to come unhinged and the zaniness is at an amusingly high level. Unfortunately, as the story transitions to the second half of the film, it falls in line with much more bland and formulaic fantasy fare in the vein of The Chronicles of Narnia. We are quickly whisked from plot point to plot point without much excitement or danger, and many of the wacky surprises and character interactions slowly fade away until we conclude with a tired clash of CG armies.

Make no mistake, even though Alice is a bit older in this version, this is a movie that is aimed squarely at kids, and doesn’t have the depth that some might demand from an adaptation of this classic tale. Screenwriter Linda Woolverton does not do much to elevate the material, although there is just enough self-discovery that goes on in the film to justify Alice’s character arc. The tone attempts to remain cute while also being purposely weird and trippy, which doesn’t always work. The sensibilities of Disney and Tim Burton at times appear to be struggling against each other, although the resulting middle ground still makes for some fun visual gags.

Johnny Depp succeeds in carrying much of the film as the Mad Hatter, even though his character feels a bit inconsistent. He alternates from a drunk lisp to a Scottish brogue and back again. Contrived at times, yes, and at other times it feels like we’ve seen it before, but it’s still a performance that not many other actors could pull off. (He does “nuke the fridge” towards the end with his breakdancing scene, but I won’t get into that.)

Helena Bonham Carter is humourous but perhaps not quite menacing enough as the Red Queen, while Crispin Glover is a great Knave of Hearts, if only he had been given a little more to do. Anne Hathaway’s White Queen seems to be a mere footnote in the film, but most importantly, Mia Wasikowska is sincere enough to buy into as the main character of Alice herself.

Alice in Wonderland can definitely be categorized as Tim Burton lite, and is nowhere near as strong as his earlier works from the late ’80s and early ’90s… but then, you probably already knew that. I would say that it’s most comparable to his take on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in terms of its energy and whimsical nature. This not the dark and edgy Lewis Carroll adaptation that some people may be hoping for, but it does have moments of twisted brilliance. I would still recommend it primarily on the strength of the visuals and some of the performances. As far as the 3-D experience goes, however, I honestly can’t say that it was really a necessary part of the equation. — Sean

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