Alice in Wonderland 2010 vs. 1951

Alice in Wonderland movie poster To me, any review is a spoiler. So please proceed reading with caution.

Before this movie was released, it started with hype that kept on building. Once I learned that it was a continuation of the story and not a remake, I felt I definitely had to revisit the 1951 Alice in Wonderland which was way ahead of its time. I suggest you watch the 1951 movie first or even read the book.

Going into the 2010 Alice in Wonderland, I was expecting this to be a musical because of the soundtrack that is promoted and that Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory remake has new musical scores as well. I was wrong.

Alice in Wonderland 2010 is a typical fantasy flick where Wonderland is akin to Narnia; the rabbit hole is the wardrobe; and the witch is the red queen. 2010's Alice in Wonderland has also added dragons and other big mythical powerful beasts, whereas the original had small goofy-looking petting zoo animals you may see on your Fruit Loops box.

So, if you are into putting on your robe and wizard hat and slaying dragons, then this may appeal to you. To me, this is never what Alice in Wonderland is about. It's about the characters - the mad characters Alice meets along her adventures, but I'll get to that in a bit.

Alice in Wonderland 1951

Almost every review you'll read about Alice in Wonderland will complain that there is no story. There isn't and never was in the original either. Alice in Wonderland 1951 is the same plot as Alice in Wonderland 2010 which is the same plot as The Wizard of Oz. Little girl gets lost from her family. Little girl meet some crazy characters at the start who become her friends and then runs into a wicked woman who rules over the land. The little girl gets sad and wants to go home, but can only do so after some type of magic given to her by the evil woman's sister of the same profession. Then it turns out it was all a dream! There, that's the plot. I spoiled it for you. Actually, Alice in Wonderland 2010 is even worse than that. I would say it has a built-in spoiler.

Alice in Wonderland 2010 reveals an unchagable time-specifc prophecy early in the movie telling you exactly what Alice is going to do and when she will do it in order to save Wonderland. There are some action scenes to show off the 3D effects, but you are literally waiting for the prophecy to be fulfilled. What's worse is that you get to watch the characters lean over a balcony at least twice in the movie to wait for time to pass. Yes, you get to watch characters kill time. I'm sure they exchange some lines in the process, but it's nothing quotable.

People on Twitter are raving about how great this movie is and the box offices are showing profits, but that has nothing to do with the above. It's all in the characters.

I was a little concerned that Tim Burton would re-create some of these characters too differently upon seeing posters and other promotional material for the movie. Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum dress like they can be two of the Addams Family children; Alice isn't a kid; The queen isn't a fattie; and the mad hatter isn't a buck-toothed happy man with a funny speech impediment; He's just Johnny Depp.

The Mad Hatter 1951
Disney's original Mad Hatter. No clown makeup. No clown red hair. Actually mad.

When you meet the mad hatter in the movie, it is just too sad. That's the best part of the 1951 Alice. Sure, the bottom of the teacups are still missing in 2010, but there's no party anymore, and that's the point. The characters are too depressed because of the red queen. This would have been the time for Alice to have a flashback of how things used to be, you know, to show the audience that he's lacking energy on purpose. How can a movie have magic, when the plot of the movie is that the magic is gone? Alice in Wonderland 2010 isn't bad directing, it's just the sad second half of a two-movie storyline. The only happiness and energy Alice even shows is in London (or wherever this upperclass grassy acre of land is) and not in Wonderland.

The Queen of Hearts 1951
Disney's original Queen of Hearts AKA red queen. A fattie, like all royalty of her time.

If you focus your attention on the red queen, however, you get the emotion and the humanity that true movies have. Again, same storyline here in 2010 as in 1951. The red queen adores Alice at first, but 1951 is a bit different. In 1951 the red queen is the first human Alice interacts with. (The mad hatter doesn't count in this context.) The red queen can communicate with Alice on her level - person-to-person and civilized. It's conforting that in this crazy land there is someone she can reason with in her quest to go home, but of course, the queen too flawed to be reasonable for too long. This is what Tim Burton understands and incorporated into his version.

The queen is quick tempered and everyone around her is faking their love for her just to save their own skin. None of them ever have true loyalty, not even her lover who is only with her for the power and status. Quite a life lesson, actually.

The Queen of Hearts 1951
Disney's original Chesire Cat. Adored by women, but only platonically. Coincidentally, a popular Halloween costume for gay men.

I could rant about how Tim Burton ruined some of the characters. The doormouse is a girl now; The cheshire cat isn't homosexual anymore; The mad hatter is more like someone who has panick attacks than someone mad from mercury poisoning; and if I remember correctly, flowers can be men too in 2010. Forget this though. Tim Burton is not looking to do a carbon copy. He correctly depics the queen's deep character, and even Alice. The plot is written by monkeys, and that the plot itself gives away the plot is even worse than seeing a movie with a spoiler beforehand makes be question the health of the monkeys.

All in all. See the 1951 Alice in Wonderland. It's a must. Walt Disney was the only man to risk making full-length animated movies in his time period. Almost makes me forgive Walt Disney for siding with Hitler (don't let that Donald Duck propaganda fool you). 2010 Alice in Wonderland isn't the movie you want to smoke with a caterpillar before seeing. It's not an "acid trip" despite the previews. You can see the 2010 Alice in Wonderland to see a reinterpretation of the characters; Not to see how the whole story ends. It ends when Alice slays the dragon. That's not a spoiler. You're told that in the first 15 minutes.

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