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Alice In Wonderland (2010) Print E-mail
Friday, 28 May 2010
ImageAlice In Wonderland is a well-told story from Lewis Carroll that captured imaginations worldwide.  The original Disney animated feature was tremendous and most were looking forward to this live-action release of "Alice In Wonderland."  With Tim Burton at the helm how could it go wrong right?  Wrong.

Tim Burton seems to be past his prime.  In the beginning his unique visual style was well received.  It brought a personalized and emotional sense to each film.  "Edward Scissorhands" and "The Nightmare Before Christmas" are critical successes.  However, as time has progressed this visual style has become less unique and simply just an imposition on the film at hand.  Classic tales that need no revisions are subjected to Burton's eerie style.  "Sweeney Todd" and "Charlie and The Chocolate Factory" are prime examples of this.  And now we have "Alice In Wonderland."

As we have seen Burton's style over and over again, this film feels more like a CGI blockbuster than a classic spin on the familiar children's fantasy.  For a fantasy story that makes no sense, Burton's take on the story is entirely underwhelming and quite predictable.  The story plays second to CGI.  In fact, every turning point in the original story is lost in the live-action film.  Acting also fails to impress.  The ending is quite anticlimactic and nothing in the story really comes together.

The twist for this film is the idea that Alice is returning to Underland, now 19 years old.  She has forgotten that she has been there before and each character tries to decide whether or not she is the real Alice that is foretold in a prophecy to come and slay the Jabberwocky, bringing down the Red Queen and restoring power to the White Queen.  Alice is supposedly pure of heart and reluctant to slay anything.  Unfortunately, there is no story behind this decision, making the reversal of her actions less interesting.
Nothing feels important in this film.  Each scene feels like it only contains potential and never goes anywhere.  This traces back to less than stellar screenwriting.  The imagery and acting feels overdone.  Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter is quite nutty.  However, this Depp portrayal is nothing new.  In fact, his behavior is less irrational than Captain Jack Sparrow.  Mia Wasikowska is the newcomer that is surprisingly refreshing, but is not given any opportunity to truly shine.  Helena Bonham Carter stars as the Red Queen and is insanely mad, but nearly as frightening as the animated Red Queen.

"Alice In Wonderland" is somewhat fun to watch, in terms of imagery.  However, the "story" is drawn out and anticlimactic making much of the film difficult to stay awake through.

Despite the many issues that "Alice In Wonderland" has in terms of story, the video quality of the Blu-ray is outstanding.  It is near perfect.  It is a 95 percent digitally shot film.  The characters and the CGI are blended perfectly.  Textures and details on the CGI characters are not outstanding, but they integrate well with live-action characters.  Colors are terrific.  They are not overly vibrant.  However, with the well-placed contrast levels, the colors remain stable and provide nice dimensionality to the image.  The black levels are impeccable.  However, the film does suffer in the opening couple minutes where crushing does occur and shadow delineation is rather poor.  However, once we move beyond the opening night sequence the image turns impeccable.  This is definitely a contender for the best Blu-ray video quality already this year.

The Blu-ray comes with a DTS-HD 5.1 MA audio track.  The audio is just as impressive as the video track.  Dialogue is crisp, clean and always intelligible.  The music score does not have as much of an impact as other fantasy films.  Still, it is melded nicely with overall soundtrack.  Sound effects are crisp and nicely placed in the soundfield.  Directionality and panning are near flawless.  The surround channels contain discreet effects as well as ambience that keep the audience immersed throughout.  The LFE channel is well rounded and used throughout the film.  The dynamic range is expansive but does not really explore the limits of audio.  What really impresses about this audio track is the immersive quality.  The audio remains a whole throughout the film.  Nothing distracts you from the experience of the film.  When the sound effects occur but don't make you turn your head, that is when you know the soundtrack is truly one entity.

The Blu-ray package is heavy on discs, but not so heavy on special features.  The Blu-ray contains but two bonus materials, in two sections.  "Wonderland Characters" is simply a collection of shorts that briefly discuss the characters.  "Making Wonderland" is the other section that briefly discusses the CGI and making-of the film.  Sadly, there is no audio commentary, which I believe was much needed.  The package also contains a DVD Copy disc and another disc that functions as a Digital Copy.

"Alice In Wonderland" is not the super film that it was made out to be when it was released.  This might explain the quick turnaround between theater and home video.  Still, it is fantasy film that has fantastic imagery and a solid audio track.  This is recommended for fans of the genre, Depp fans and possibly Burton fans.

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