Blu-ray Reviews

Alice in Wonderland (2010) Blu-ray Review


Quick Take: A solid presentation for one of Burton's less memorable films.

Alice in Wonderland is the latest in a string of remakes and re-imaginings from creatively supercharged director Tim Burton that feels like nothing more than new characters plugged into the same tiresome formula. The fish out of water is Alice, the otherworldly setting Wonderland and the deliverer of zany antics Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham-Carter. Apply that formula to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Planet of the Apes and the result will be the same.

Burton’s treatment of Alice could have overcome the formula handicap had it adhered to Lewis Carroll’s sequel novel. Instead, Burton works off an entirely new story in which Alice (Mia Wasikowska) falls down the rabbit hole as a 19-year old and cannot remember having been to Wonderland, now renamed Underland, as a child. All the usual players like the White Queen, Cheshire Cat and more are there to help Alice understand her destiny which plays out with the predictability of Johnny Depp channeling his past characters for the Mad Hatter.

For a film with such elaborate design and painstaking efforts taken to bring Underland to life via CGI, it’s hard to accept that Alice in Wonderland is as forgettable as it is colorful. You can apply all the CGI wizardry to enlarging the Red Queen’s head you want, but that doesn’t change the fact that the entire film hinges on the type of vague prophecy you’d expect to find in a preschool book. What should have been a trippy return to Wonderland is an unimaginative trap.

High-Def Presentation

There is no 3D included with Alice in Wonderland on Blu-ray which will please many as the post-production addition of the third dimension failed to impress theatrically. Alice’s 1.85:1 1080p Blu-ray transfer will conjure no such complaints. The presentation is incredibly film-like with great depth and detail despite many of the Underland sets being created digitally. There is natural warmth in the colors recalled from the theatrical print that keeps the otherworldly flora and landscapes from looking any more fake than their wild designs make them out to be.

Alice also excels aurally with an aggressive 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix that runs as wild as the Bandersnatch. The first real taste is when Alice tumbles down the rabbit hole as objects swirl around here and bass accentuates near misses. The Bandersnatch chase and final battle are equally as impressive with the deep beast roars and thud of them running across the ground singlehandedly carrying the surround and bass channels. Danny Elfman’s score never overpowers dialogue no matter which heavily accented creature or person is doing the talking.

Beyond the Feature

Dual columns of supplemental features on the included Alice in Wonderland Blu-ray slipcover case amount to less than 50 minutes of actual content. Each of the 12 high definition vignettes runs between approximately 2 and 5 minutes and succinctly explores the topic of their elegantly simplistic names without going overboard on useless fluff.

Early DVD-era treatment of bonus features is likely the result of such a short release window between theatrical and home video that afforded Disney little time to invest in Blu-ray interactivity. The inevitable forthcoming Blu-ray 3D double-dip is a prime candidate to add in commentaries, picture-in-picture and trailers. For now these supplements, the DVD version and a digital copy will have to suffice.

Wonderland Characters (27:56, HD)

  • Finding Alice (5:25)
  • The Mad Hatter (6:02)
  • The Futterwacken Dance (3:23)
  • The Red Queen (5:58)
  • Time-Lapse: Sculpting the Red Queen (2:40)
  • The White Queen (4:27)

Making Wonderland (19:29, HD)

  • Scoring Wonderland (3:10)
  • Effecting Wonderland (6:53)
  • Stunts of Wonderland (2:34)
  • Making the Proper Size (2:13)
  • Cakes of Wonderland (2:34)
  • Tea Party Props (2:04)

There are Tim Burton fans out there that love Alice in Wonderland and will watch it over and over countless times. If you had issues with Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory then I strongly recommend renting Alice in Wonderland before taking the plunge. You’ll get to experience the strong high-def presentation and then can judge whether Underland is worth a return trip.

– Dan Bradley

Shop for Alice in Wonderland on Blu-ray for a discounted price at

SCORE: 3.5 out of 5

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