Film Festival Week: Alice in Dreamland

Alice in Dreamland is an independent anime film from 2015. Of course, it’s based on the classic novel, Gulliver’s Travels. You can just tell from the name. Let’s dive in and see how it goes.

Alice in Dreamland

Story:

Alice is a young girl who loves reading. One day, she’s approached by the White Rabbit, who she recognises from stories. He needs her to come with him because Wonderland is being consumed by the darkness and if she doesn’t come help them, Tim Burton will make it grim, gritty and irredeemably stupid forever. Thus begins the quest to save the beloved classic from Tim Burton. And you might say “Ktulu, they’re saving it from the Darkness, not Tim Burton.” But if you think about it, the Darkness wants to twist the story into a grim, gritty version. Which sounds like Tim Burton to me.

The biggest issue with the film’s story arc is that it’s full of turns that aren’t well developed but are kind of obvious. Alice going from saying that she can’t do a lot to fully embracing her role as the saviour of Wonderland. The whole thing with the Knight. It’s all stuff you can easily see coming but the development surrounding it is pretty weak.

On the positive side, I do kind of like the idea of the Wonderland characters rising up to save their world from the dark, grittiness brought on by Tim Burton so that they can make it bright, colourful and fun again. And we do have to consider that its target audience is children. So, we can’t be too harsh on it for having simplistic writing.

Characters:

The cast is very simple. The film kind of relies on you being familiar with Alice in Wonderland and doesn’t really bother doing much with most of the characters. And Tim Burton is just a typical kid’s film villain. He wants to engulf Wonderland in darkness and make everything grim to compensate for his insignificant genitalia. What, you thought the people writing dark and edgy versions of light-hearted media were just stupid? No, they’re all compensating.

I will say, even for a piece of children’s media, the characters are overly simplistic. There’s no real difference between The Hatter, the Dormouse, The March Hare, The Lion, The Unicorn or the Tweedles. At least in terms of personality.

Art:

One one hand, I give the art style credit for being unique. On the other hand, it’s pretty off-putting. The characters are dolls and the backgrounds, while weird, look like paper backdrops. It’s not really an attractive style and it’s not one that you can really express emotions with since the characters always have the same expressions.

Alice in Dreamland1

Sound:

The acting is a bit exaggerated but works well enough. It’s not so overdone that it makes it difficult to listen to. The theme tunes are a little annoying. They’re that variety of anime tune that involves a lot of high notes and random English phrases.

Ho-yay:

There’s no romance whatsoever. Ho-yay or otherwise.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. This would honestly work better if Alice spent less time trying to reject the call to action and there was more time spent on those turns instead. They could be much better fleshed out that way.
  2. Differentiate your characters. A couple minutes spent giving each of the Wonderland denizens more personality would really help the world seem more vibrant and raise the stakes of Alice’s battle against Tim Burton.
  3. Better theme tunes. Like I said, the ones they have are pretty annoying. It might be kind of interesting to start with something slower and a bit dark and end with a song that’s much lighter and more vibrant just to make the tunes match the state of Wonderland.

Final Thoughts:

Honestly, I’ve seen much worse takes on Alice in Wonderland. The Burton films being the obvious examples. There was also that anime one with a bunch of consent-challenged lesbians I reviewed. If you can get past the doll art and you can appreciate the concept of saving Wonderland from the grim and gritty, you may well enjoy this one. For me, I really don’t like the art style. I don’t think it’s unique in a positive way. I kind of like the concept, but I thought the execution fell short. So, I’m giving it a 4/10. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it bad, but it’s a bit weak.

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