Alice In Wonderland is the new reimagining of the Lewis Carroll classic, directed by Tim Burton. Alice (Wasikowska), an unpretentious and self-confident 19-year-old, is betrothed to a dunce of an English nobleman. At her engagement party, while escaping the crowd to consider whether to go through with the marriage, she falls down a large hole in the garden after spotting an unusual rabbit. Arriving in a strange and surreal place called "Underland," she finds herself in a world that resembles the nightmares she had as a child, filled with talking animals, villainous queens and knights, a jabberwocky, and other strange and wondrous characters. Alice realizes that she is there for a reason—to conquer the horrific Jabberwocky (voiced by Christopher Lee) and restore the rightful queen to her throne. (Gary Reber)
The four-disc Combo Pak includes both a 3-D and 2-D Blu-ray Disc™, a DVD, and a digital copy of the film. Special features on the 2-D Blu-ray Disc include the making-of featurette in six parts: "Scoring Wonderland," "Effecting Wonderland," "Stunts Of Wonderland," "Making The Proper Size," "Cakes Of Wonderland," and "Tea Party Props" (HD 19:29); Wonderland Characters in six parts: "Finding Alice," "The Mad Hatter," "The Futterwacken," "The Red Queen," "Time-Lapse: Sculpting The Red Queen," and "The White Queen" (HD 27:56); Disney Live and D-BOX Motion Code™ functionality; and up-front previews. The DVD includes Finding Alice, The Mad Hatter, and Effecting Wonderland. The 3-D Blu-ray Disc does not include bonus materials.
The 1.78:1 1080p MVC picture appears to be sourced from the HDCAM SR digital 1.85:1 aspect ratio exhibited in the 35 mm spherical presentation. A 3-D version sourced from the D-Cinema 3-D version (also exhibited in IMAX® blowup, dual-strip 3D) is the subject of this review. While the dimensionality of the previously reviewed 2-D version in Issue 148 was outstanding, no doubt due to the 3-D vision of Director Tim Burton and Production Designer Robert Stromberg, the 3-D Blu-ray Disc is far more impressive. Remarkably, this is not a native 3-D production but a conversion from the natively photographed 2-D version using Legend3D conversion technology. Perceptual depth is consistently realistic, with exaggeration used for dramatic effect, not as a gimmick. Down the rabbit hole and through the tiny door to the Underworld and bang!!!''the dimensionality kicks in to deliver an arresting, immersive 3-D visual adventure. There's plenty of depth and dimension to excite the eyes. At times the scale projects a vastness that stretches deep into the background. The scene toward the end that depicts the preparation for battle between the Red Queen and the White Queen armies is amazingly three-dimensional! All throughout, there is no ghosting to detract from the experience. The Underworld exhibits a dark, brooding color scheme with densely saturated colors reminiscent of paintings. The significant difference between the two versions is that the 3-D version appears darker and not as vibrant, even when adjusted for light output. As with the 2-D version, colors are richly hued and warm, but less vivid. The Underworld treatment is starkly contrasted with the bright overcasts of the English countryside, leading up to Alice's fall into the large rabbit hole. Dark reds and oranges are often emphasized in the Underworld, as well as deep grays and blacks, to characterize the Red Queen's dark Kingdom. In contrast, the White Queen brings brightness and light to her scenes. Alice's fleshtone hue appears perfectly natural, while all the other characters are stylized for dramatic effect. Burton effectively achieves the feeling of a dream and provides extraordinary strange and wondrous visuals that constantly provide amusement and delight. The 3D enhances the dream-scapes with elaborate visual layering and varying degrees of scale. The set designs are exquisitely textured, providing a varied environment rich in detail. Resolution is outstanding throughout, especially in the depiction of such textures. Facial features on both "people" and other beings and creatures are impressively resolved. The contrasts are fascinating and cinematic. While a deeply brooding cinematic visual experience, the picture quality is excellent and the 3D is impressively dimensional, though, the imagery appears darker overall and less vibrant. (Gary Reber)
The DTS-HD Master Audio™ 5.1-channel soundtrack is terrific and exhibits an impressive holosonic® soundfield that is fully immersive. In large part, the satisfying envelopment is due to the almost constant presence of Danny Elfman's expansive orchestral music score, which occupies a wide and deep soundstage with an aggressive presence in the surrounds. The music recording, though, sounds generally veiled and distant and lacks the presence of a first-generation live-session recording. Atmospheric sound effects are always subtly present, to enhance the sense of dimension. At times sound effects are aggressively directionalized and panned. Noticeably, the 3D seemingly enhances the sense and appreciation of subtle elements with precise localization within the immersive soundfield. Bass energy is solid and the .1 LFE channel, at times, extends powerfully below 25 Hz. Dialogue is generally effectively integrated spatially, though, at times ADR sounds disconnected. Noteworthy is the effectiveness of dialogue direction and placement, which sounds perfectly natural across the soundstage. The soundtrack is nicely dynamic, displaying both subtle soundscapes and full-on SPL energy. The climactic battle scene is wonderfully holosonic and aggressively dynamic, with fully energized deep bass and full orchestra and choral forte. When experienced with D-BOX Motion Code encoding, the experience is even more captivating, as the motion effects deliver a wonderful visceral enhancement. This is a wonderful soundtrack that effectively enhances the storytelling, especially when experienced in 3D. (Gary Reber)