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Alice in Wonderland

Promotion poster
Directed by Tim Burton
Produced by Richard D. Zanuck
Joe Roth
Suzanne Todd
Jennifer Todd
Written by Linda Woolverton (screenplay)
Lewis Carroll (book)
Starring Mia Wasikowska
Johnny Depp
Anne Hathaway
Helena Bonham Carter
Crispin Glover
Michael Sheen
Stephen Fry
Music by Danny Elfman
Cinematography Dariusz Wolski
Editing by Chris Lebenzon
Studio Roth Films
The Zanuck Company
Team Todd
Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures
Release date(s) February 25, 2010 (2010-02-25) (London premiere)
March 5, 2010 (2010-03-05)
Running time 109 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $200 million[2]
Gross revenue $447,120,535[3]

Alice in Wonderland is a 2010 fantasy adventure film directed by Tim Burton, written by Linda Woolverton, and starring Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover, Michael Sheen and Stephen Fry. It is an extension of Lewis Carroll's novels Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. The film uses a technique of combining live action and animation.

In the film, Alice is now 19 years old and accidentally returns to Underland, a place she previously visited 13 years ago. She is told that she is the only one that can slay the Jabberwocky, a dragon controlled by the Red Queen. Burton said the original Wonderland story was always about a girl wandering around from one weird character to another and he never felt a connection emotionally, so he wanted to make it feel more like a story than a series of events. He does not see this as a sequel to previous films or a re-imagining. It premiered in London at the Odeon Leicester Square on February 25, 2010 and was released in Australia on March 4, 2010 and the United States and the United Kingdom on March 5, 2010 through Walt Disney Pictures in 3-D and IMAX 3-D, as well as in regular theaters.

Contents

Plot

Troubled by a recurring dream featuring strange creatures, nineteen-year-old Alice Kingsley (Mia Wasikowska) attends a party at a Victorian estate shortly after the death of her beloved father. She learns that the formal affair is actually an engagement party to eventually wed her into the Ascot family who now own her father's trading firm. Unsure of how to reply to Hamish Ascot's proposal, Alice runs away and follows the White Rabbit, Nivens McTwisp (Michael Sheen). She then falls down a rabbit hole into Underland, a bizarre world she previously visited as a child, although she has lost most memory of it and believes what she remembers to have been a dream. It is explained throughout the course of the film that Iracebeth, the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter), conquered Underland by stealing the ruling crown from her sister Mirana, the White Queen (Anne Hathaway), but Alice will slay the Red Queen's guardian, the Jabberwocky, on the Frabjous Day using the Vorpal Sword. However, a misunderstanding of words from Absolem the Caterpillar (Alan Rickman) makes everyone believe that she is "the wrong Alice". The forces of the Red Queen attack, and kidnap McTwisp, Uilleam the Dodo (Michael Gough), and Tweedledum and Tweedledee (Matt Lucas), while Alice escapes. The Knave of Hearts Ilosovic Stayne (Crispin Glover) informs the Red Queen of Alice's return; the Red Queen orders Alice's capture.

Alice is found by Chessur (Stephen Fry), a grinning cat, who leads her to Tarrant Hightopp (Johnny Depp), Thackery Earwicket (Paul Whitehouse) and Mallymkun (Barbara Windsor). As Stayne searches for Alice, The Hatter flees toward the White Queen's castle with a shrunken Alice, but he is caught, with Alice narrowly escaping their notice. A bloodhound named Bayard (Timothy Spall), who was forced to work for the Red Queen due to his imprisoned family, aids Alice in sneaking into the Red Queen's castle to rescue The Hatter. McTwisp, now a page for the Red Queen, gives Alice some food which makes her grow to a large size, but she fools the Red Queen into believing she is "Um from Umbradge," and The Hatter is made the Red Queen's hat maker. Alice learns that the Vorpal Sword is hidden in the den of the Bandersnatch, whose eye was earlier removed by Mallymkun. Alice restores its eye, and it helps her escape from the castle with Bayard. Chessur saves the Hatter and Mallymkun from execution, and they lead all of the enslaved Underland creatures to flee the Red Queen's castle. Alice delivers the Vorpal Sword to the White Queen and returns to her normal size, but she remains unsure whether she can kill the Jabberwocky.

Absolem, going into his pupa stage, reminds Alice of her past visit to Underland and gives her the courage and belief to fight the Jabberwocky. On the Frabjous Day, the forces of the White and Red Queens converge on a battlefield to decide the fate of Underland. The White Queen offers her sister a chance for peace one last time, but the Red Queen declines, summoning the Jabberwocky (Christopher Lee). Alice fights the Jabberwocky and is nearly killed but the Hatter distracts it, starting an all out brawl between the Red Queen's and White Queen's forces. The Hatter fights and overcomes Ilosovic as Alice beheads the Jabberwocky. Without the beast to instill fear, the Red Queen is deposed and banished with Stayne to the outlands forever. Alice returns home, where she refuses Hamish's proposal and becomes an apprentice for his father with the idea of beginning trade routes with China. The film ends with Alice sailing away on a ship with Absolem, now as a butterfly, fluttering off and away from her shoulder.

Cast

  • Mia Wasikowska as Alice Kingsley, a 19-year-old young lady "who doesn't quite fit into Victorian society and structure."[4][5] Her return to Wonderland "becomes a rite of passage as she discovers her voice and herself."[4][6] Screenwriter Linda Woolverton researched how young women were expected to behave in the Victorian era and then made Alice the opposite.[7] Although facing pressures to conform to society's expectations, Alice grows into a more strong-willed and empowered heroine who chooses her own path.[8][7] Alice changes size throughout the story, ranging from a height of merely six inches to a maximum of 20 feet tall.[9] Mairi Ella Challen portrays Alice as a six-year-old.
  • Johnny Depp as Tarrant Hightopp, the Mad Hatter.[10] Tim Burton explained that Depp "tried to find a grounding to the character, something that you feel, as opposed to just being mad. In a lot of versions it's a very one-note kind of character and you know his goal was to try and bring out a human side to the strangeness of the character."[11] The orange hair is an allusion to the mercury poisoning suffered by many hatters who used mercury to cure felt. According to Depp: "I think he was poisoned, very, very poisoned, and it was coming out through his hair, through his fingernails and eyes."[12] The Mad Hatter is Alice's ally. Wasikowska says: "They have an understanding about each other. They both feel like outsiders and feel alone in their separate worlds, and have a special bond and friendship."[13] In an interview, Depp stated that the Mad Hatter is like "A mood ring, his emotions are very close to the surface".[14] Depp and Burton decided that the Mad Hatter's clothes, skin, hair, personality and accent should change throughout the film to reflect his emotions.[15] The Mad Hatter is "made up of different people and their extreme sides", with the Scottish Glaswegian accent (which Depp had modelled after Gregor Fisher's Rab C. Nesbitt character) reflecting a darker, more dangerous personality.[16] Illusionary dancer David Bernal doubles for Johnny Depp during the "futterwacken" sequence near the end of the film.
Helena Bonham Carter as The Red Queen
  • Helena Bonham Carter as Iracebeth of Crims, the Red Queen.[17] Bonham Carter's head is increased in size by three times on screen.[18] The Red Queen is the older sister of the White Queen. She also hates animals, and she proves this by using animals as furniture.[19] Bonham Carter's character is a combination of the Red Queen and the Queen of Hearts.[20] The actress took inspiration from her young daughter, Nell. "The Red Queen is just like a toddler, because she’s got a big head and she’s a tyrant. Toddlers have no sympathy for any living creature. That’s our toddler, Nell just bosses us around with no please or thank yous. It’s ‘Mummy, come here’, ‘Mummy, carry me’. It’s all about her, she never considers us."[21]
  • Anne Hathaway as Mirana of Marmoreal, the White Queen. Her character does not require digital manipulation.[22] Hathaway summed up her character with a caption on a magnet of Happy Bunny holding a knife; "Cute but psycho. Things even out."[23] She is very eccentric and dramatic.[20] According to Hathaway, "She comes from the same gene pool as the Red Queen. She really likes the dark side, but she's so scared of going too far into it that she's made everything appear very light and happy. But she's living in that place out of fear that she won't be able to control herself."[24] Hathaway describes her interpretation of the White Queen as "a punk-rock, vegan pacifist", with inspiration drawn from Blondie, Greta Garbo, and the artwork of Dan Flavin.[24]
  • Crispin Glover as Ilosovic Stayne, the Knave of Hearts.[17] He is the head of the Red Queen's Army. Seven feet, six-inches tall, with a scarred face and a heart-shaped patch covering his left eye, Stayne is an arrogant, tricky character who follows the Red Queen's every order. He is the only one capable of pacifying her and calming her dramatic mood swings. "I am the martial element for the Red Queen," says Glover. "The Red Queen has a fair amount of short-tempered reactions to things that people do, and so my character has to be quite diplomatic." His darker side emerges in the shadows of the castle hallways.
  • Matt Lucas as Tweedledee and Tweedledum. Burton said it was a mix of animation and Lucas. "It's a weird mixture of things which gives his characters the disturbing quality that they so richly deserve."[25]
  • Stephen Fry as Chessur, the Cheshire Cat.[26] He is a dapper tabby with the ability to appear and disappear. He is all calm, casual sensuality with a seductive grin that masks his cowardice. It's the cat's disembodied head that first appears to Alice in Tulgey Wood after she has been attacked by the vicious Bandersnatch. He offers to purify the gashes on her arm by licking them. Alice declines, although she allows him to lead her to the Hatter's Tea Party where the Hatter blames him for deserting them on the day the Red Queen seized control of Wonderland. Using his skills and the Hatter's coveted top hat, the Cheshire Cat later finds a way to redeem himself.
  • Michael Sheen as Nivens McTwisp, the White Rabbit.[27] The White Rabbit works for the Red Queen, but is also a secret member of the Underland Underground Resistance. He was sent (by the Hatter) to search for Alice. Sheen stated, "The White Rabbit is such an iconic character that I didn't feel like I should break the mold too much."
  • Alan Rickman as Absolem, the Caterpillar. Rickman was filmed while recording his voice in a studio, but his face was not composited onto the character's face as originally planned.[18]

Burton and Bonham Carter's children have cameos in the film.[20] Frank Welker provides additional vocal effects for the film.[31]

Production

Development and writing

Joe Roth was developing Alice in Wonderland in April 2007 at Walt Disney Pictures with Linda Woolverton as screenwriter.[32] That November, Burton signed with Disney to direct two films in Disney Digital 3-D, which included Alice in Wonderland[33] and his remake of Frankenweenie. He explained "the goal is to try to make it an engaging movie where you get some of the psychology and kind of bring a freshness but also keep the classic nature of Alice." On prior versions, Burton said "It was always a girl wandering around from one crazy character to another, and I never really felt any real emotional connection." His goal with the new movie is to give the story "some framework of emotional grounding" and "to try and make Alice feel more like a story as opposed to a series of events."[11] Burton focused on the Jabberwocky poem as part of his structure.[34] Burton also stated that he doesn't see his version as either a sequel to any existing Alice movie or as a "re-imagining".[35]

Filming

"We wanted somebody who had…it’s hard to put into words, but just had a gravity to her, an internal life, something that you could see the wheels turning. It’s just a simple kind of power to her that we really liked. Not flamboyant, not very showy, but just somebody that’s got a lot of internal life to her. That’s why I picked her."
Tim Burton on casting Mia Wasikowska as Alice[36]

This film was originally set to be released in 2009, but was pushed to March 5, 2010.[37] Principal photography was scheduled for May 2008, but did not begin until September and concluded in three months.[33][38] Scenes set in the Victorian era were shot at Torpoint and Plymouth from September 1 to October 14. Two hundred and fifty local extras were chosen in early August. Locations included Antony House in Torpoint, Charlestown, Cornwall and the Barbican[39][40], however, no footage from the Barbican was used. Motion capture filming began in early October at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California, though the footage was later discarded.[41][42][43] Filming also took place at Culver Studios.[44] Burton said that he used a combination of live action and animation, without motion capture.[45] He also noted that this was the first time he had filmed on a green screen.[45] Filming of the green screen portions, comprising 90% of the film, was completed after only 40 days.[5] Many of the cast and crew felt nauseous as a result of the long hours surrounded by green, with Burton having lavender lenses fitted into his glasses to counteract the effect.[5]

Sony Pictures Imageworks designed the visual effects sequences.[46] Burton felt 3D was appropriate to the story's environment.[10] Burton and Zanuck chose to film with conventional cameras, and convert the footage into 3-D during post-production; Zanuck explained 3-D cameras were too expensive and "clumsy" to use, and they felt that there was no difference between converted footage and those shot in the format.[47] James Cameron, who released his 3-D film Avatar in December 2009, criticized the choice, stating, "It doesn't make any sense to shoot in 2-D and convert to 3-D".[48]

Marketing

On June 22, 2009, the first pictures of the film were released, showing Depp as the Mad Hatter, Hathaway as the White Queen, Bonham Carter as the Red Queen and Lucas as Tweedledee and Tweedledum.[38] A new image of Alice was also released.[49] In July, new photos emerged of Alice holding a white rabbit, the Mad Hatter with a hare, the Red Queen holding a pig, and the White Queen with a mouse.[50]

On July 22, 2009, a teaser trailer from the Mad Hatter's point of view was released on IGN but was shortly taken down because Disney claimed that the trailer was not supposed to be out yet. The teaser was also planned to premiere along with a trailer of Robert Zemeckis' film adaptation of A Christmas Carol on July 24, 2009 for G-Force. The following day, the teaser trailer premiered at Comic-Con but the trailer shown was different than the one that leaked. The ComicCon version didn't have the Mad Hatter's dialogue. Instead, it featured "Time to Pretend" by MGMT, and the clips shown were in different order than in the leaked version. The leaked version was originally to be shown to one of the three Facebook groups used to promote the film that had the most members. The groups used to promote the film are "The Loyal Subjects of the Red Queen", "The Loyal Subjects of the White Queen" and "The Disloyal Subjects of the Mad Hatter."[51]

Also at the Comic-Con, props from the film were displayed in an "Alice in Wonderland" exhibit. Costumes featured in the exhibit included the Red Queen's dress, chair, wig, spectacles and scepter; the White Queen's dress, wig and a small model of her castle; the Mad Hatter's suit, hat, wig, chair and table; Alice's dress and battle armor (to slay the Jabberwock). Other props included the "DRINK ME" bottles, the keys, an "EAT ME" pastry and Stand-In models of the White Rabbit and March Hare.[52]

Release

On February 12, 2010 major UK cinema chains, Odeon, Vue and Cineworld, had planned to boycott the film because of a reduction of the interval between cinema and DVD release from the usual 17 weeks to 12.[53] A week after the announcement, Cineworld, who has a 24% share of UK box office, has chosen to play the film on over 150 screens. Cineworld's chief executive Steve Wiener stated, "As leaders in 3D, we did not want the public to miss out on such a visual spectacle. As the success of Avatar has shown, there is currently a huge appetite for the 3D experience".[54] Shortly after, the Vue cinema chain also reached an agreement with Disney, but Odeon had still chosen to boycott in Britain, Ireland and Italy.[55] On February 25, 2010 Odeon had reached an agreement and has decided to show the film on March 5, 2010.[56] The Royal premiere took place at the Odeon Leicester Square in London on February 25, 2010 for the fund-raiser The Prince's Foundation for Children and The Arts where the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall attended. It also did not affect their plans to show the film in Spain, Germany, Portugal and Austria.[57][55] [58] The film was released in the U.S. and UK, in both Disney Digital 3-D and IMAX 3-D,[38] as well as regular theaters on March 5, 2010.[59]

Critical reception

Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 52% of critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 5.7 out of 10 based on 219 reviews.[60] Among Rotten Tomatoes' "Top Critics", which consists of popular and notable critics from the top newspapers, websites, television and radio programs,[61] the film holds an overall approval rating of 61%, based on a sample of 33 reviews. The site's general consensus is that "Tim Burton's Alice sacrifices the book's minimal narrative coherence – and much of its heart – but it's an undeniable visual treat".[62] Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 1–100 reviews from film critics, has a rating score of 53 based on 38 reviews.[63]

Todd McCarthy of Variety praised it for its "moments of delight, humor and bedazzlement", but went on to say, "But it 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".[64] Michael Rechtshaffen of The Hollywood Reporter said "Burton has delivered a subversively witty, brilliantly cast, whimsically appointed dazzler that also manages to hit all the emotionally satisfying marks." while also praising its CGI, "Ultimately, it's the visual landscape that makes Alice's newest adventure so wondrous, as technology has finally been able to catch up with Burton's endlessly fertile imagination."[65] Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly said, "But Burton's Disneyfied 3-D Alice in Wonderland, written by the girl-power specialist Linda Woolverton, is a strange brew indeed: murky, diffuse, and meandering, set not in a Wonderland that pops with demented life but in a world called Underland that's like a joyless, bombed-out version of Wonderland. It looks like a CGI head trip gone postapocalyptic. In the film's rather humdrum 3-D, the place doesn't dazzle — it droops."[66] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times said in his review that, "Alice plays better as an adult hallucination, which is how Burton rather brilliantly interprets it until a pointless third act flies off the rails".[67] The market research firm CinemaScore found that audiences gave the film an average rating of A-minus.[2]

Box office performance

Alice in Wonderland opened with over $41 million in North America, setting a new record for an opening-day in March.[68][69] Alice made an estimated $116.1 million in its opening weekend, smashing the biggest March opening ever, which was previously held by 300 with $70 million.[70] It is the sixth highest grossing opening weekend of all time, and the highest opening weekend for a non-sequel, taking the record from Spider-Man.[71] The film made an additional $94 million in 40 other countries in its opening weekend, putting its worldwide total at $210 million.[72] The film broke the previous IMAX record held by Avatar of $9.5 million by earning $11.9 million on 188 of the large format screens, with an average of $64,197 per site.[73] The film grossed an estimated $62,000,000 in its second weekend, the sixth biggest second weekend gross. [74] In just over a week, the film has grossed $226,120,535 in the United States and Canada, and $221,000,000 in other territories, for a worldwide total of $447,120,535.[3] It is the highest grossing film of 2010 to date.[75]

Soundtracks

Alice in Wonderland: An Original Walt Disney Records Soundtrack

Longtime Burton collaborator Danny Elfman's score was released March 2, 2010.[76] It debuted at #89 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums. The tracklisting for the album is as follows:

Alice in Wonderland (An Original Walt Disney Records Soundtrack)
Film score by Danny Elfman
Released March 2nd, 2010
Label Walt Disney Records
Danny Elfman chronology
The Wolfman
(2010)
Alice in Wonderland (An Original Walt Disney Records Soundtrack)
(2010)
No. Title Length
1. "Alice's Theme"   5:07
2. "Little Alice"   1:34
3. "Proposal/Down the Hole"   2:58
4. "Doors"   1:51
5. "Drink Me"   2:48
6. "Into the Garden"   0:50
7. "Alice Reprise #1"   0:26
8. "Bandersnatched"   2:42
9. "Finding Absolem"   2:41
10. "Alice Reprise #2"   0:38
11. "The Cheshire Cat"   2:07
12. "Alice and Bayard's Journey"   4:04
13. "Alice Reprise #3"   0:24
14. "Alice Escapes"   1:07
15. "The White Queen"   0:36
16. "Only a Dream"   1:25
17. "The Dungeon"   2:18
18. "Alice Decides"   3:14
19. "Alice Reprise #4"   1:01
20. "Going to Battle"   2:41
21. "The Final Confrontation"   1:41
22. "Blood of the Jabberwocky"   2:37
23. "Alice Returns"   3:14
24. "Alice Reprise #5"   2:56

Almost Alice

Almost Alice is a collection of various artists' music inspired by the film.[76][77][78] The lead single, "Alice", by Avril Lavigne, premiered on January 27, 2010 on Ryan Seacrest's radio program.[79] The album was released on March 2, 2010.[76]

Video game

Disney Interactive Studios announced on July 23, 2009, that a video game based on the film will be released in the same week as the film for the Wii, Nintendo DS and Windows PC, with the soundtrack being composed by veteran video game music composer Richard Jacques.[80] The Wii, DS, and PC versions were released on March 2, 2010.[81]

GameZone's Michael Lafferty gave the game a 7.7 out of 10, saying "Graphically this game scores well, and though the overall gameplay is nothing that has not been experienced before, the game still has a nice rhythm to it. It is what it is – a game adaptation of a movie, slightly offbeat, but accessible."

References

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