Alice in Wonderland (Blu-ray)
The one billion dollar phenomenon that is Tim Burton’s ALICE IN WONDERLAND has managed to enchant audiences of all ages around the world. But as I finally sat down to watch the film, I can’t help but feel like something was missing. Tim Burton isn’t known for adding unusual depth to his films, but I felt like he missed a chance to bring his fantastic world to life by getting too wrapped up in creating a beautiful world rather than telling a great story. This is a normal pitfall for Burton, but one I thought he’d rectify with Alice. With that said, we’re still left with breathtaking colors and settings that are a joy to watch, even if the film feels a little shallow.
Trying to describe, in any sort of detail, the plot of Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ or ‘Through the Looking Glass’ is an exercise in futility. But if you’re familiar with the original cartoon, then know that this film acts a sort of sequel (think more Looking Glass and less Wonderland for those that read the books). A 19 year-old Alice returns to her Wonderland and is reunited with her old friends, eventually leading to her realizing her destiny, which is to end the Red Queen’s evil rule.
In a Tim Burton film, especially one with a budget like this, there are two main elements to the movie. The first is the setting, which in this case is incredible. The world he’s created and the costumes, colors and effects are a joy to watch and worth the price of admission alone. This was especially true in the Red Queen’s castle as new characters came to life and the backgrounds told their own story. The forest was also very colorful, with Burton adding characters and plant life that really came to life. The White Queen’s castle was a little on the boring side, but luckily we didn’t spend much time there.
The second aspect to consider with Burton is how well did his actors bring their characters to life. Burton reteamed with his old buddy Johnny Depp, who did a great job as the Mad Hatter. Newcomer Mia Wasikowska starred as Alice and although not much was required of her, she did well as the constant to everyone else’s variable in this Burton experiment. The best performance goes to Helena Bonham Carter (another Burton favorite) who added a personality to the Red Queen that made her endearing despite her penchant for evil.
Overall, this was an fun film, even if it fell a little flat at times. I enjoyed Burton’s vision of the classic novel and all of the actors did a great job with bringing their characters to life. Burton once again delivers a visually pleasing film that should be fun for the whole family.
Video: I’ve said for a while that Disney makes the best Blu-rays and they prove it once again with a visually stunning Blu-ray transfer that is near reference quality. Burton was heavy on the colors and detail and all of it comes through beautifully on this Blu-ray.
Audio: The audio was almost as great as the video with surround channels utilized efficiently and subwoofer thumps falling in the appropriate spots.
I’m disappointed by this offering of special features, leading me to believe that an uber-edition is on the way in the coming years.
Making Wonderland (19:28): This is a collection of six featurettes that cover specific aspects of the film. None of them dive too far into the process, but everything touches on the subjects we care about when it comes to filmmaking (sound, effects, settings). There is a nice look at how they manipulated the Red Queen’s head.
Wonderland Characters (27:57): Just as the other special feature was dedicated to the making of the film, this one is a series of featurettes dedicated to each character in the movie. There is a featurette dedicated to the Futterwacken, which was probably the worst aspect of the film and distracted from the mood of the ending. But either way, it gets its own feature.
There are also some Previews