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Angela Mar 28, 2010

Decided to finally catch this one before it phased out of theaters.  It's a moderate disappointment, surmounting to little more than beautiful eye-candy with a charmless plot.  While the concepts of abstract logic, doublespeak, and monologuing obviously had to be removed to make the film work, the whimsy nature of the original stories are pretty much drained from this adaptation.  Even by Burton's standards, his own brand of fanciful direction is largely restrained this time around.  There's little in the sense of fun to be had here.

Making this into a quasi-sequel to Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass was a shaky premise.  The intended joy of the movie is to see all these great, iconic characters show up, but the fact that Alice comes down with an unfortunate case of amnesia some thirteen years later robs the intended joy that these characters' presence were supposed to bring.  In fact, there's a flashback sequence of sorts, that shows what Wonderland was like prior to those thirteen years -- a great montage that makes me think this would've worked so much better as a straight-forward adaptation of the original stories.  A pity.

The technical achievements are mostly excellent.  The overall look of the movie is colorfully imaginative, and the scaling methods utilized to represent Alice as grown and shrunk are impressive.  The CG work as a whole look good, but there are some missteps; Crispin Glover's interaction with several of his digital double elements look laughably bad, for instance.

I think the best part of the film is actually Danny Elfman's score.  Filmtracks' Clemmensen once again weighs in proper:

"This is pure Elfman fantasy at his best, lyrically smooth, melodically memorable, and elegantly ominous from start to finish.  For some listeners, the familiarity that comes with Alice in Wonderland could possibly be a deterrent.  It is to Elfman what Avatar is to James Horner, but without the potentially obnoxious, outright wholesale regurgitation of lengthy passages from existing themes.  Both are phenomenal summaries of each composer's trademarks in their respective genres, but both are consequently quite derivative for the learned ears of collectors with significant collections of their works.  Given how long most Elfman enthusiasts have waited to hear the composer crank out another truly classic fantasy score, however, the many connections between Alice in Wonderland and his previous scores are not only excused, but welcomed. Everything simply clicks in this score... its ambiance, its minor-key constructs, its poignant themes, its instrumental applications, and its choral coloration."

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