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3D Blu-ray Reviews

THE HTF 3D ADDICT: Alice in Wonderland 3D

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#1 of 1 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

Ronald Epstein

    Studio Mogul

  • 44,059 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 03 1997

Posted December 08 2010 - 05:13 AM


What can I say?  I love 3D!  From the moment I began watching 3D content in my home I quickly discovered that I needed more content.  I suspect that those of you just purchasing your first 3D hardware will acquire the same ferocious appetite.  That's why I became the HTF 3D ADDICT.  I personally love images that pop off the screen and come inches away from your face without becoming overly gimmicky.  However, I certainly appreciate the nature documentaries that offer beautiful depth and separation.  These are not necessarily reviews of the film themselves.  I am not going to concentrate on story or supplements -- you can find the 2D reviews elsewhere on this forum.  My job is to let you know exactly what kind of 3D experience to expect from the titles that are being released.   As I will be receiving a handful of new product from the studios expect to see more title coverage.





Alice in Wonderland 3D



Studio: Walt Disney

Product Release: December 7, 2010

Ratio: 1.78:1

Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French & Spanish Dolby 5.1

Running Time: 109 Minutes

Rating: PG




Overall 3D Presentation Rating: 3

3D Separation: 3

3D In Yo' Face Factor: 2


To this day Tim Burton remains one of my favorite

directors. There was a time where his films were met with

the greatest of expectations.  When Burton takes on original

projects such as Edward Scissorhands, Nightmare Before

Christmas or Big Fish I think the work is tremenous.  However,

I think Burton is at his least best when attempting to take on 

old ideas, remaking classic films such as Planet of the Apes

or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Alice in Wonderland falls somewhere inbetween. Rather than

being a remake, it's an inspired sequel of the original Lewis Caroll

classic.  In fact, Burton took on this project because he personally

didn't feel a connection to the original story and wanted to do a sort

of "re-imagining."  In a press conference Burton 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." 

The story begins 13 years after the original, introducing us to Alice

(Mia Wasikowska) now a young adult at 19 years of age. She has

forgotten all of the events that have happened to her prior other than

strange dreams that she can't quite figure out.  When Alice attends

her surprise engagement party where she is to be proposed to by 

Lord Ascott, she becomes distracted by a white rabbit that she 

chases after only to end up tumbling down a large hole.  Sound

somewhat familiar?

Alice finds herself back in "Wonderland" where she reacquaints

herself with old and new characters voiced by talents Alan Rickman,

Barbara Windsor, Stephen Fry and Crispin Glover.  It is there that

a magic scroll reveals that she is destined to take on the nasty

Red Queen (Helena Bohham Carter) and slay her Jabberwocky.  

With the help of The Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) and White Queen

(Ann Hathaway), Alice begins her uncertain adventure to make the

world right once more.

It's unfortunate that Alice In Wonderland ends up being just

mediocre.  While Tim Burton has put his magic touch in creating

a wondrous world, the story just can’t uphold it.  There are wonderful

performances here by Johnny Depp and particularly Helen Bohnam

Carter, but neither dominate the majority of the film's running time.

The story gets rather weighted during the film's initial 18 minutes

and somewhere towards the third act.  

Alice in Wonderland was not originally shot for 3D.  The filmmakers

apparently felt that due to the costs and clunky cameras that it would

be better to film in 2D and then convert to 3D.  This process is generally

not well accepted by audiences, particularly when there have been

badly converted films like Warner's Clash of the Titans.  

Surprisingly, the conversion looks fairly good.  The problem is that

the quality of 3D doesn't remain consistent.  The film's first scenes

which take place in the real world has a nice 3D feel to it with foreground 

characters resembling cardboard cutouts. However, sometimes the 

images seemingly go completely flat such as the carriage ride with

Alice and her Mother.  Once Alice opens the tiny door into the "Underland"

world, the film takes on a beautiful 3D landscape that you look at

and think, "coooool."  However, some scenes look more 3D pronounced

than others.  I did enjoy those involving the Red Queen within her palace

where you get a real sense of depth between foreground and background.

If you are looking for any "In Yo' Face" moments where things lunge from

the screen, you will find very little.  Once in a while swords, talking flowers

and even the brim of the Mad Hatter's hat will slightly extrude the 4th wall.

However, when objects are purposely thrown at the camera they tend to

blur as they come closer to the eye rather than give the effect they were

intended for.  Still, I was enthralled enough with the quality of 3D that

I don't think I would have enjoyed the film as much without it.

Good news!  I found hardly any ghosting issues.  Those that exist happen

where it is expected -- in dark scenes.  However, I don't think I saw a

minute's worth of ghosting throughout the entire film.

The transfer itself looks flawless, which is not surprising since most of

the film was shot digitally.  Picture looks more soft than sharp and colors

more pale than vivid.  Really, the most colorful scenes in the film involve

those with The Red Queen where the reds are highly punctuated.  

Most enjoyable here is one of the most active surround tracks that I have

heard in quite some time.  There is a constant array of dialogue and effect

sounds that dance around the channels.  Watch the scene where Alice first

meets Tweddledee and Tweedledum in "Underland" and enjoy the conversation

moving from channel to channel.  The forrest scenes seemingly come alive

thanks to the whispers, creaks and other various sounds that fill the rears.

The DTS-HD soundtrack robustly conveys Danny Elfman's score.  Bass

response is rather subtle throughout with the exception of the scenes involving

the Bandersnatch and Jaberwocky.  

Nice little touch here is that there are no trailers or other non-essentials 

included on the front of the presentation.  Essentially the viewer is taken 

directly to the main menu shortly after inserting the disc.  



I have to give props to Disney.  Alice In Wonderland was a title

originally bundled solely for release with Sony hardware.  I had criticized

the studio early on for not releasing enough 3D content for the first

big 3D holiday season.   The announcement that this title would be

released retail came suddenly only a mere two weeks ago and in 

time for Christmas.

Though I personally don't think Alice In Wonderland is nearly the

best film Tim Burton has made I do feel that Disney has put together

a 3D Blu-ray worthy of everyone's consideration.  It's not consistently

the best 3D title I have watched but it does succeed as being good enough

to be the perfect choice for a family night gathering.   




LG 60PX950 THX Certified 3D display

LG BX580 3D Blu-ray Player

Denon 3808CI Receiver

Atlantic Technology H-PAS AT-1 fronts, 4400 center; 4200 rear speakers

SV Sound Subwoofer


Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner


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