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Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Disney's 'Alice in Wonderland': Not so wonderful?


Variety's Todd McCarthy has just weighed in with an early review of the much anticipated Tim Burton take on "Alice in Wonderland" and, to hear McCarthy tell it, instead of being a match made in celluloid heaven, the film is a huge disappointment. McCarthy says the film has moments of humor and bedazzlement, but -- and it's a big but -- the film "also becomes more ordinary as it goes along, building to a generic battle climax similar to any number of others in CGI-heavy movies of the past few years."

McCarthy clearly believes that Burton never quite got a handle on the eccentric delights of the Lewis Carroll masterwork. As he puts it: "For all its clever design, beguiling creatures and witty actors, the picture feels far more conventional than it should: It's a Disney film illustrated by Burton, rather than a Burton film that happens to be released by Disney."

What went wrong? McCarthy puts part of the blame on the script, written by Linda Woolverton, a Disney vet who had a hand in films including "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Lion King." As the critic explains, Woolverton's script gives Carroll's original episodic works a narrative backbone, but unfortunately it's a backbone that "turns 'Alice' into a formulaic piece of work, which Carroll's creation was anything but. Climactic action set piece, with an unlikely young warrior taking on a fearsome beast while gobs of CGI soldiers clash, smacks of 'The Lord of the Rings,' 'Harry Potter,' 'The Golden Compass,' 'The Chronicles of Narnia' and any number of other such recent ventures. Thus does 'Alice become normalized, a tilt Burton is surprising incapable of opposing."

Ouch! If Carroll's "Alice" was anything, it was anything but normal. Let's hope that the reaction from other critics isn't as underwhelming, but this review certainly takes my high expectations and knocks them down a couple of notches. To paraphrase a line from the film, I'd hate to see an "Alice" that has lost its muchness.

Photo of Mia Wasikowska in "Alice in Wonderland" from Disney Enterprises

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As I recall, Disney had the same problem when they tackled Alice the first time. Sure, it was a decent film, but they took what was supposed to be a series of crazed, dreamlike scenarios, weighed them down with their own brand of situational logic and tried to force it all to make sense. I'd much rather have the American McGee version, to tell the truth. That said, though, I'll still be willing to give this one a spin.

FIRST of all, in no way does that review say its a HUGE disappointment. SECOND, the Hollywood Reporter gave it a RAVE review - even saying it will be up for Oscars next year.

Saw it today and agree, massive disappointment... how could Tim Burton's take on Alice in Wonderland be boring? Well, sadly waste 107 minutes and find out

I am a huge Alice fan since I was small.Not because of People saying acid trips were cool, but simply for the fact of fairy tales and long lost worlds were a place to drift away to.Alice,Sleeping beauty,Cinderella,Legend,Dark Crystal and Labrynth were all back bones of a childhood fantasy.As an adult I still would love to be anyone of those characters.

The first thing my child said ( 11 yrs. old) when she saw the previews for this movie is The guy in the red hair looks really scary. She also said the same thing when she saw the Charlie and the chocolate factory. She thought Willie Wonka was scary looking and the whole thing was a little scary especially when the squirrels came after the kid. And lets not forget the Ugly green Grinch ( not the cartoon) the movie with J.C. as the grinch. His eyes looked really creepy. A bad guy can stlli be bad without making him look so evil that it looks like something from some horror flick!

Mary Blair's vibrant art helped shape the look of Walt Disney's classic animated film. Collected in a picture book for the first time, her illustrations capture the essence of such memorable characters as the Queen of Hearts and the Mad Hatter with stunning immediacy.

Who was the critic who called this Burton's 'Hook' awhile back?

I really hope this doesn't upset me. Alice in Wonderland is my favorite movie.

I love Tim Burton, he's my favorite director but Alice in wonderland was a huge disappointment. It was pretty boring and dark. It's a bit depressing actually. I'd much prefer Alice as a curious child rather than a teenager who seems not surprised by all that's happening to her. Johnny Depp was my favorite actor too, but he sucked in that movie. Why on earth do the mad hatter and alice have some kind of special connection?? i mean, the mad hatter is supposed to be crazy and wacky. Anyhow the only thing I found rather amusing was the queen's big head. literally big head. Other than that, I think the disney film is much more better.


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