Alice Doesn't Live Here Any More

on June 17, 2010 by Steve Simels

Tim_Burton_Alice.jpgRevisted Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, via Disney's Blu-ray combo pack yesterday, and to be honest I remain as underwhelmed as I was when I saw the retro-fitted 3D version on the big screen earlier this year.

Just so you don't think I'm one of those purist cranks, I should stipulate that I have no problem with revisionist takes on familiar classics, even if they're misfires; as Raymond Chandler famously said (when somebody asked him if he was upset that a film adaptation of one of his novels ruined the book) "Last time I looked the book is still out there." And in any case, it's not like there's ever gonna be a single definitive Alice, although I have been and remain rather fond of Disney's animated version from 1951.

That said, Burton's adaptation doesn't work for me, and I say this as somebody who was really looking forward to Johnny Depp's Mad Hatter providing nightmare fodder for generations of little kids to come. To be sure, it has its moments, as you can see from the trailer... 

...Burton being Burton, some of the visuals are to die for, and the Red Queen's little frog footmen are an absolute hoot, as is Stephen Fry's Cheshire Cat. The screenplay, however, is another matter entirely; turning Alice from a plucky Victorian girl into a dragon-slaying Joan of Arc/Xena Warrior Princess figure on a Heroic Quest kind of misses the point, however, not to mention being stunningly trite.


The relatively good news, however is that Burton's seamless mix of live action and computer animation comes across with tremendous impact on both the DVD and Blu-ray versions in this new set, and frankly, you won't miss the 3D at all. Bonuses with the package are necessarily mostly on the Blu-ray, although the conventional disc has a couple of character docs; with the newer format you get twelve making-of shorts of varying descriptions, and if you have the free time to sit through them all I can only assume you're an independently wealthy person of leisure. There's a also a digital copy disc for those who want to watch the thing on their iPods, which seems a little lèse-majesté, if you know what I mean.

In any case, you can -- and I see no reason why you shouldn't, really -- order the Burton Alice over here. Ironically enough, you can find all sorts of editions of the original book over there as well.



Tags: Tim Burton, Raymond Chandler, Johnny Depp

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