Alice in Wonderland Blu-ray Review
PictureAlice in Wonderland comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p resolution, encoded using the AVC codec and frame within a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The disc itself is region free.
As with most films that mix computer generated imagery with live action actors, the main concern will be how well the two mesh. I've heard differing reports on the effectiveness of it in this film but all I can say is that to my eye it is extremely accomplished. When in reality things may look close to blooming, with the ethos of England's green and pleasant land obviously being the inspiration as the grass and sky are rich whilst the people are in muted colours. Moments later we are in Wonderland and the first room Alice finds herself in is decidedly drab, with a somewhat sepia tone that flattens the image. Thankfully there are no other such occasions when there is such a marked shift between the brighter, more vivid hues and what could be described as dullness that drains dimensionality, but it is true that when in stronger light the image looks its best.
Colours are not only rich but remains consistently stable, and when there is fine surface texture beneath the bold overtones it too is very apparent. Flesh tones are hard to judge given Alice's intentionally wan appearance and the CG nature of the majority of characters, but the early scenes in the real world show there to be no problems with realistic skin colouration. Contrast is very strong and helps give a pleasing depth to the frame, with solid whites and blacks. There is a nice attempt to create gradation throughout the visuals and there are no signs of banding, even through some of the more complex strata of clouds and smoke swirls.
Delineation is solid, if perhaps very occasionally a shade off perfection, but this crisp, sharp yet subtle picture combines punchy and rich colours with strong shadow detail and contrast to produce an image that is neither let down by CG or live action and cohesively combines the two with an effective Burton dream-like quality.
SoundAudio options are English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English audio descriptive 2.0, Italian DTS 5.1, Dutch DTS 5.1 and Belgian Dolby Digital 5.1. I obviously opted for the English lossless track.
In a similar manner to the picture, there really is little you can fault the audio mix for. The centre channel is uniformly excellent and delivers speech, from shots to whispers in a manner that not only remains completely intelligible, but also allows for the rich intonation of the actors, particularly Stephen Fry and Alan Rickman, to come through.
It is clear that to a certain extent proceedings have been designed primarily around the various set-pieces that Alice finds herself caught up in. There is decent separation most of the time and the front array is wide and expansive. Things though stay quite restrained until Elfman's score starts to rise and the ensuing crescendo is the trump card for this track. It doesn't drown out the effects, which pan well in all directions, but it does to a reasonable degree take precedence as one would expect from a Burton film.
Surround speakers not only bring the enveloping effects to life by filling out the soundscape but also show finesse with regards various instruments and some pleasing discrete noises. Bass underpins the score and the action but doesn't plumb the depths that perhaps creatures such as The Bandersnatch and The Jabberwocky deserved. It is still a potent mix with great dynamic range, but falls just short of shaking the viewer.
ExtrasThe Mad Hatter - 1080p - 6:02
Depp takes us through the development of his character's look as well as discussing the basis of his personality. There are some nice behind-the-scenes shots showing the interaction with the green screen as well as the early watercolours of both Depp and Burton showing how they envisaged the Hatter's appearance.
Finding Alice - 1080p - 6:18
Burton tells us what drew him to the project as well as fleshing out a little about the characters, Wonderland and Alice's “muchness”. Differences to the book, her costumes, who she is and how Mia Wasikowska found the part are all also covered.
Effecting Wonderland - 1080p - 6:53
We get to see how the visual effects were created via the use of green screen, motion capture and how live action was mixed with the two. The Bandersnatch, the two Tweedles, Stayne and The Red Queen's head are the key characters looked at.
A DVD of the film comes with the pack for all those unable to play Blu-ray.
VerdictAlice in Wonderland, for many, is a title that will likely fall into the category of flawed Burton visions. The inventive visuals fail to make up for the lacklustre script that is largely devoid of the ingenuity and mischievousness that one has come to expect of his works. If seen as a children's film then it may be forgiven its style over substance blueprint, but given the modern kids market has moved on, I doubt those brought up on Harry Potter will marvel at much here. As a film it is a reimagining that sits nicely alongside Planet of the Apes - make of that what you will.
The disc fares a lot better, with picture and sound quality that is almost unfaltering. The extras are a little thin on the ground, especially considering the wealth of detail that could have been covered with regards the visual effects, but the extra DVD for those family members unequipped for the high def era may make up for that.
A solid disc but a lacklustre film.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £23.99
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