Alice Kingsleigh (Mia Wasikowska) has been having strange dreams since childhood, dreams filled with unusual creatures. Nearly twenty years old, she attends a fancy party with her mother and sister where Hamish, a young lord, proposes to her. Marrying him is what is expected of her, but she's conflicted enough to run away. And then promptly falls down a rabbit hole.She finds herself in Underland, where the White Rabbit is confident that she's "the real Alice", while others aren't so sure. The Red Queen has taken over nearly all of Underland, but the ancient document called the Oraculum shows the Frabjous Day arriving, a day of battle on which it is foretold that Alice will slay the Jabberwocky and put an end to the Red Queen's reign.There're only a few problems: Alice thinks this is all a dream, and she's not prepared to slay anything.A 2010 film by Tim Burton, also released in 3D. Not an adaptation of either book, but rather a sort of sequel.Just as the 1951 film inspired two different rides at the various Disney Theme Parks, this version has now also inspired the Mad T Party, a nighttime event at California Adventure featuring live music that replaced ElecTRONica.If you're looking for the 1951 Disney film, visit here.In Decemeber 2012, Disney confirmed that work on a sequel had begun. It's currently unknown if any of the cast or Burton will return.
Tropes in this film include:
0% Approval Rating: The Red Queen. As the Knave of Hearts comments to her, and she later agrees, "It's better to be feared than to be loved." The only reason anybody followed her is because of her big dragon. After the thing dies, they immediately turn on her. Meaning she never learned the other warning of The Prince, "Avoid being hated." The White Queen has clearly read the book.
Actual Pacifist: The White Queen - sort of. She's okay with people fighting for her, but refuses to fight herself because of having taken vows never to cause physical harm to anyone (Cruel Mercy, on the other hand...). Or she can't lower her arms from their permanently raised position to hold a sword, one of the two.
Animals Lack Attributes: The family of bloodhounds. The mother of the puppies has no discernible mammaries, and Bayard has nothing between his legs with which to create said puppies, even when he flops down on his side in front of the White Queen with his crotch pointed right at the camera.
Arbitrary Skepticism: "I'm sorry, Aunt Imogen, but there is no prince." Now, let me go play with my talking animal friends, this queen I met, and a Hatter who shrinks people and can turn his head about like a hundred owls. It would be Hypocritical Humor were it played for anything but drama.
Although, perhaps the film tried to put a line between crazy/free-minded and delusional/obsessed. Alice had a proof of the Underland, but Aunt Imogen was clearly fooling herself. YMMV, but for all intents and purposes, Alice "freed" her aunt's mind, just like she was freed herself by her father and the trip to Underland.
Attempted Rape: At one point The Knave of Hearts pins Alice between him and wall in the hallway and rather seductively (and creepily) whispers to Alice how he "likes largeness." However, Alice fends him off easily because of being nine feet tall at the moment (compared to the Knave's seven). If she had been her normal size... Well, actually, he would have left her alone. (This probably got as close to the Trope as the movie could get while still keeping the Rating it had, more or less.)
Awesome Moment of Crowning: After Alice slays the Jabberwocky, the Red Queen's crown floats over to land on the White Queen's head (though, of course, the Cheshire Cat was holding it).
Bad Boss: The Red Queen is sort of a hypocrite here. She does order her minions executed for trivial reasons and sadistically use them like furniture. On the other hand, the Knave of Hearts gets off with nothing more than a few slaps to the face when Alice escapes with the Vorpal Sword (something you'd think would really be bad for them) because he was too dumb to know that she was the one staying in the castle as a guest (of course, part of that was the Queen's fault too, but she wasn't one to accept blame).
Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Alice falls down a rabbit hole, gets shrunk, enlarged and stuffed in a teapot, then fights the Jabberwocky...all without a curl on her head getting tangled. (Though to be fair, she probably got to have a bath while she was in Marmoreal.) With one small aversion in that even when she returns to her daily life, she still bears the scars from the Bandersnatch attack.
Berserk Button: It's really not a good idea to do anything that could be perceived by the Mad Hatter to be a threat against either Alice or the White Queen...and don't mention the Horunvendush Day. Just don't.
Bloodless Carnage: Not much blood spilt throughout the movie, especially in the final battle, although that one gets a pass as most of the participants are metal cards and chess pieces. The Horunvendush Day scene in particular is ridiculously clean. When the Hatter returns after the disaster, there isn't a single body to be seen, and the only hat left is, conveniently, his own.
Actually, in regards to the disaster on Horunvendush Day, the Jabberwocky's lightning breath is capable of vaporizing people, as at least one knight meets this fate.
Body Horror: It's theorized by the White Queen that the Red Queen has some kind of tumor growing in her head. That might explain why her head is so swollen while the White Queen herself is normal in appearance.
Breath Weapon: The Jabberwocky , which spits purple thunderbolts.
Broken Aesop: All the best people are mad, and it doesn't matter what others think. But this message is then thrown out the window when Alice declares that her crazy aunt needs to seek help for her overactive imagination.
As said in Arbitrary Skepticism, the movie shows that there is a line between mad/imaginative and delusional. Her aunt is clearly delusional/lonely/heartbroken and her belief in the prince is clearly a spoof of a fairy tale. Alice only wanted to help her aunt get over it, not say she should forget the dream. At no point did Alice say she should "forget imagination."
The Arranged Marriage plot at the beginning of the film sets up the aesop that forcing someone to walk lock-step with social expectations crushes a person's individuality and happiness. Then Alice goes to Underland where she is told that she must slay the Jabberwock Because Destiny Says So ... and she does, even though there are obvious parallels between this destiny and the one back in England. She then goes back home, breaks away from her engagement and starts her own career. So which is it, then - Screw Destiny or follow it to the letter?
The true Aesop in both cases is "When faced with an unpleasant reality, fight, don't stick your head in the sand." The reality for Alice being the perspective of an Arranged Marriage/threat of Jabberwock, in either case something that she is bound to face and that she initially feels is impossible to overcome. Alice's aunt, however, fails to face her own unpleasant reality, so Alice calls her on it.
Broken Bird: The Hatter. As it gets explained to Alice via flashback (and is made more explicitly clear in supplemental material), his entire family was killed the day the Jabberwock assaulted Witzend and the White Queen lost her crown. The Hatter himself only survived the invasion because he rushed to get the White Queen to safety; he returned to the scene afterward and found everything burning and everyone dead. This is one of the two main reasons for his madness, the other being mercury poisoning (a common malady for Victorian milliners).
Butterfly Of Transformation: In the ending scene, the caterpillar Absolem appearing in the form of a butterfly can be seen to symbolize Alice's own transformation.
Creative Closing Credits: The film had a very pretty scene for the cast list and Avril Lavigne's song that showed the clouds shifting, mushrooms growing (and glowing) and the bare Goth Spirals branches blooming to show that Underland is healing after the Red Queen's defeat. In the 3D version, this is windowboxed, with the growing fauna spilling out onto the blank areas of the screen, giving the impression that the screen is a window to Underland. This awesome sequence can be seen here.
Curtain Clothing: When Alice grows out of her dress in the Red Queen's garden the Queen demands she be given new clothes and tells her servants to "Use the curtains if you have to." When we later see her clothed, she has a belt that looks suspiciously like a tie for a curtain, hinting that it's exactly what they did.
Cute and Psycho: The White Queen is strongly hinted to be this. Anne Hathaway summed up her character with a caption on a magnet of Happy Bunny holding a knife: "Cute but psycho. Things even out."
Deceased Parents Are The Best: Alice's deceased father, Charles Kingsleigh, while he was alive, would comfort Alice after having a nightmare and encourage her unconventional thought patterns. Alice would eventually follow in her father's footsteps and take up his old business ventures.
Digital Head Swap: Tweedledee and Tweedledum have actor's heads on digital bodies. As well, for the Red Queen, Helena Bonham Carter's head is tripled in size.
The Ditz: The White Queen was written this way in the original script; she was totally oblivious to the fact that Alice was the champion. Between the improvements to her character and the removal of the more blatant Alice/Hatter shipping, most viewers are grateful for the subsequent rewrites.
Dream Apocalypse: This is played with a little, despite the fact that this isn't a dream, despite Alice's constant insistance that it is. The Hatter mentions to Alice in a rather serious tone (as opposed to his usual one) that is she is dreaming all this, then he must not really exist (and she agrees with him). However, he doesn't seem too concerned about it; he quickly returns to his jovial attitude, saying that she must be a little crazy to have imagined someone like him. (Again, she doesn' deny it.)
Dull Surprise: Pretty much all Alice's dialogue is delivered in a flat manner - regardless of what's actually happening at the time. Possibly deliberate. She is a young British lady who believes for most of the film that it is All Just a Dream, to contrast with her surroundings.
Johnny Depp as The Mad Hatter was just him playing his typical weirdo roles. It would've been nice if he was cast as a different character and have someone else play The Mad Hatter.
Empathic Weapon: The Vorpal Sword never shows any outright signs of life, but it likely is. Many characters suggest that it plays more of a role in fighting the Jabberwock than Alice does, and she simply has to be the one who holds it. When Alice doubts that she can fight the creature, Absolem assures her that she simply has to "hold on" and let the Sword do the work, and the Jabberwock himself is clearly more concerned about the Sword than he is of Alice, (he even calls her "insignificant" when the battle starts).
Evil All Along: Subverted, sort of. Anne Hathaway has stated that the White Queen was actually just as evil as her sister on the inside, if not more so, but she kept these impulses in check, surrounded herself with beauty and a warm and calm atmosphere to keep herself from showing her true nature and committing the same atrocities- though in a way, this cycles back around to ultimately meaning she's, at the very least, good enough to care deeply about not unleashing her evil impulses on others.
Evil Counterpart: The final battle presents the Knave as being this to the Hatter.
The Dormouse has a habit of inflicting this on other creatures.
The Hatter also gets one in on the Knave during the final battle. However, it doesn't seem to affect the Knave much afterward.
Alice In Wonderland, as a movie, has an abundance of eye tropes. Nearly every character, including Alice, has exaggerated or unique eyes. Even the Dormouse gets a close up of its eyes. And the Hatter's eyes are part of a very subtle scene transition.
While it isn't a direct use of this trope, one of the Hatter's pupils is visibly more dilated than the other—a sign of severe head trauma. A concussion would certainly explain his erratic emotions and babbling. Word Of God has confirmed this.
That, and his trade is slowly killing him thanks to mercury vapor.
Eyepatch of Power: The Knave of Hearts. Interestingly, his patch is often red when in the Queen's presence, but black at any other moment.
Fate Worse Than Death: The White Queen decrees that the Red Queen is to be ignored until the end of time, banished to outer Underland with the Knave of Hearts as her only companion. Considering that the only reason anyone — including even faceless card Mooks — hung around the Red Queen was fear of the Jabberwocky, it's a clear case of Laser-Guided Karma.
Stayne's fate too. He's forced to accompany the Red Queen in her exile until Underland is destroyed. Lampshaded:
Stayne: Your Majesty, please! Kill me! Mirana: But I do not owe you a kindness.
In the White Queen's defense, she made a final plea for peace with her sister before the battle started, and it was ignored completely. You could argue that the Red Queen had only herself to blame after that.
Fisher King: "Underland" was definitely brighter under the White Queen compared to its look under the Red Queen, and when the latter is defeated, the sky immediately gets a bit brighter. Also, watch how the scenery changes during the credits.
Friend to All Living Things: The White Queen, whose "vows" include not harming any living creature. Of course, the vows say nothing about getting henchmen to do the harming for her.
She almost breaks this vow by trying to swat a fly, right after she tells Alice about it. Fortunately, she doesn't succeed.
Frameup: As if the Knave's crude attempt to seduce Alice wasn't bad enough (see above), when his attempt to seduce her fails, he tells the Red Queen that the exact opposite happened, and she tried to seduce him. This actually works, and she orders her execution. (Ironically, this actually works to Alice's advantage. While he's doing this, she is looking for the Vorpal Sword, and has already found it, befriended the Bandersnatch, and has managed to free the Hatter by the time he shows up to arrest her, at which point what happened before is the least of their problems.)
Gender Flip: The Dormouse, who's usually male in most adaptations.
A mild example, various characters referring to Red Queen as "Bloody big head"
The Knave of Hearts is implied to be a macrophile.
As if a man that tall would not prefer big women!
As if the Red Queen's boyfriend would not prefer any other woman!
Each of the Red Queen's courtiers had a comically huge body part, and if one were to look hard enough, there are glimpses of one with Gag Boobs. When it is later revealed that the body parts are all fake, there's a very quick background shot of one of the courtiers tearing the fake breasts away from the woman's chest, though no actual naughty bits are shown.
So Alice is 19-century Brit who is gonna engage in trade with China. Riiiight.
Doubles as Harsher In Hindsight and Nice Job Breaking It, Hero, since it's implied she'll be the first one to open trade to China.
Gilded Cage: The White Queen is stuck in her palace after the Red Queen's takeover.
Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Several of the Talking Animals, including the White Rabbit and the frogs in the Red Queen's court. Somewhat justified, because the Red Queen is at least decent enough to give her servants red garments or markings.
Lampshaded when the White Rabbit speaks deprecatingly of the animals in the real world that run around naked and "shukrn" in public.
Happy Dance: The futterwacken, the Mad Hatter's oft-mentioned dance of joy, finally seen after the Red Queen's defeat.
Her Heart Will Go On: If you picked up on on the film's "romantic subtext", Alice and Hatter get this. No, he doesn't die, but the look on his face as Alice's chooses to leave send him into near Woobie territory. It doesn't hurt that Alice said she knew the way back, implying that they could easily meet again someday.
I Fell for Hours: The rabbit hole in the film's original script and novelization. Not as long-lasting or drastic in the film itself, Alice speeds down the rabbit hole, whams into a bookcase and a piano and a bed, before finally crashing through the floor of the Hall of Doors and lands on the ceiling. All within 45 seconds.
Kick the Son of a Bitch: After the White Queen sentences her to A Fate Worse Than Death, the Red Queen takes comfort in knowing that the only person who loved her, the Knave of Hearts, will still be by her side... he is so horrified at the prospect that he tries to kill her, and then begs for his own death when he doesn't succeed.
Light is Good: White is associated with the good guys, namely the forces of the White Queen.
Dark Is Not Evil: The Cheshire Cat. Also, at the end, the Red Queen's minions readily quit and redeem themselves as soon as she is defeated.
Like Brother and Sister: According to an interview with Johnny Depp, this is how he views the Hatter's relationship with Alice. ... But, of course, this won't stop the fans from shipping them.
Line-of-Sight Name: Alice picks up the name "Um of Umbrage" after growing fifteen feet tall at the Red Castle to fool the Red Queen. Counts as Line of Sight because the White Rabbit uttered it in hesitation and the Red Queen took it as an actual name. Hilariously lampshaded later in the movie:
The Mad Hatter: "You're entirely bonkers...but all the best people are." The March Hare also thanks the Knave for the compliment of calling him mad. The Hatter himself tends to shake off that there's something "wrong with him" with a vigorous "I'm fine." Interestingly, the original script had the Hatter as an extremely lucid character.
Magic Pants: Averted as Alice gets a new bigger/smaller dress to fit her every time she changes size. During the first time she grows, though, her dress expands to something more her size, but very tight-fitting.
Maiden Aunt: Alice's, played by Frances De La Tour. Apparently thinks she's Wallis Simpson. ("I'm waiting for my fiance. He's a prince, but alas, he cannot marry me unless he renounces his throne.") When Alice returns, she tells her aunt she has to let go of her fantasy.
Actually, there may be some sort of explanation: Near the beginning of the movie, when Alice dances with her would-be fiance she tells him that she had a vision of women wearing pants and men wearing dresses (or something to that effect). Since she is efffectively wearing pants in the final battle, the Hatter wearing a kilt might sort of fulfill the other part of her vision.
Manipulative Bitch: The Red Queen thinks her sister the White Queen is this (and, to an extent, she's right).
The Knave's real name is Stayne (Stain), and he certainly is one on Underland.
The Red Queen's real name is Iracebeth, a play on the word irascible, which she very much is. Contrast that with her sister — the White Queen's real name is Mirana, which is a variant of Mira, which means "peace."
Mirana is also very close to 'Miranda', which in Latin means '(she who is) worthy of admiration' or 'she who must be wondered at' - which is apt considering most people's response to her.
Lady Ascot (Hamish's mother) griping about how the gardeners planted white roses when she specifically requested red, and Alice's response that she could paint the roses red, is a shout out to the Queen of Hearts in the Disney adaptation, as well as to other adaptations.
And the actual book.
Negate Your Own Sacrifice: The Cheshire Cat takes a beheading for the Mad Hatter. This trope applies because the Cheshire cat can detach his head from his body at any time.
Never a Self-Made Woman: Despite Alice's father having very little screen time, once Alice understands who she is she labels herself as her father's daughter, then proceeds to continue his work.
However, she chooses to go into a business and leave home to establish trade routes, rather than get married to a 'suitable' member of the aristocracy. She's doing what the eldest son of a family would be expected to do, rather than a daughter.
Never Trust a Trailer: In the trailer, there's a scene where a frog confesses to stealing the queen's food. In the trailer, it was treated as a funny scene. In the movie? It's played up to be the Queen's Kick the Dog moment.
Nightmare Fetishist: The White Queen, as illustrated by the cheerful way in which she puts the disgusting ingredients in the potion she makes for Alice. As explained by her actress Anne Hathaway, the White Queen has the same craziness In the Blood as does her sister, the Red Queen, and so she tries to act very good and pure to compensate, but is still kind of odd - you could think of her as a Perky Goth who happens to wear all white.
She does show a look of brief disgust when Alice cuts off the Jabberwock's tongue.
And when she collects blood from the Jabberwock's severed head.
She also seems to be close to vomiting when briefly smelling the buttered finger for the potion.
No Name Given: Averted in that almost every resident of Underland has a "real" name, despite almost none of them being given one in the original stories. The Cheshire Cat is Chessur, the March Hare is Thackery, and the White Rabbit is McTwisp, just for starters.
Non-Human Undead: The Jabberwocky, who looks all decayed and emaciated, and its intro even looked like resurrecting from the dead.
Noodle Incident: One that, when mentioned, immediately prompts the Hatter to fly into a furious tirade.
Cheshire Cat: What happened that day was not my fault.
Parental Favoritism: As noted below under The Unfavorite, this is the Red Queen's Freudian Excuse; her parents (and, apparently, the rest of the whole kingdom) always favored her little sister. Notably averted with Alice's family, since she and her sister are very close and both love their parents very much.
Pet the Dog: Arguably. The Red Queen usurped her sister the White Queen and exiled her to the fairytale castle of Marmoreal. Bad, sure, but at least she let her little sister keep her head. Unlike the Red Queen's own husband, whose head is shown floating in the moat at Salazen Grum.
Pimped-Out Dress: The Queens and their courtiers. Also, Alice gets several over the course of the movie to match her ever-changing size.
Politically Correct History: Alice would not go on a journey to China after telling off all those people and talking nonsense, she would be sent to a sanatorium. She's nothing but a young woman in Victorian England, after all. But a fabulously wealthy young woman in Victorian England, so she can do more than most. Just go with it!
Psychopathic Womanchild: The Red Queen according to her actress, who evidently took inspiration from her young daughter, Nell.
Helena Bonham-Carter: The Red Queen is just like a toddler, because she’s got a big head and she’s a tyrant. Toddlers have no sympathy for any living creature. That’s our toddler, Nell just bosses us around with no please or thank yous. It’s ‘Mummy, come here’, ‘Mummy, carry me’. It’s all about her, she never considers us.
Green Eyes: They become a deeper green when he's happy.
Scenery Porn and Scenery Gorn: It is a Tim Burton movie, after all. A visual feast is practically expected. Even the bombed-out ruins of the White Queen's party look impressive.
The Seven Basic Plots: Voyage and Return. Yep, painfully as obvious as Alice's adventure, but inverted at the end when Alice leaves Wonderland but vows to return, and once in her own world sails off to China, implying she has one more voyage before coming home.
The Knave's comment to the Red Queen, "Is it not better to be feared than loved?" is in fact a shout out to Macchiavelli's The Prince.
There seem to be a few shout-outs to that other Big Effin' 3-D CGI movie that came out only a few months before, such as the floating seed pods, the main character growing and shrinking, being called stupid and having to lead an army to fight a dragon with a dangerous creature they befriended, but it's probably that movie referencing this one's story plus another big effin' movie trilogy's tropes.
Sore Loser: The Red Queen after Alice vanquishes the Jabberwocky.
Split Personality: The Hatter seems to have one - he lapses into a Scottish brogue and his eyes even change color as an indicator on occasion. Supplemental material explains that the brogue is common to those who speak Outlandish, the language from the portion of Underland which includes the Hatter's home village of Witzend.
Throwing Your Sword Always Works: The Dormouse again. After the final battle, the Hatter throws his scissors right into the Knave's wrist, just as he is about to murder the Red Queen (to whom he was forcibly handcuffed as punishment).
Unexplained Recovery: The Bandersnatch's eye. Also Alice's infected arm after the Bandersnatch cures it in return.
The Unfavorite: The Red Queen, or at least she thinks she was; she insists that her parents favored her little sister the White Queen. This is her Freudian Excuse for being such a psycho.
Unresolved Sexual Tension: Alice and the Mad Hatter, although this is a strange example because they're probably not intended to give off such vibes to viewers, and it's not quite Will They or Won't They? because they never really hint at anything too obviously. The original script, however, included two passionate kisses between them, and there is a rumor that one of them was actually filmed.
The Mad Hatter:(to 9-foot-tall Alice) Why is it you're always too small, or too tall? "You're terribly late, you know...naughty."
Alice and the White Queen have this to some people, though YMMV.
Wild Mass Guessing: Depp's take on the Mad Hatter is a historical one: Hatters went mad due to working with mercury (which can turn hair and eyes red while bleaching skin and cause anxiety, hallucinations and possibly schizophrenia), and the Mad Hatter has had mercury poisoning for a very long time. He also went with the Edgar Allan Poe angle to the Raven/writing desk riddle.
The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask: The White Queen spends most of her time looking elegant and floating around waving her arms in the air, but during her first appearance, she asks her courtiers to excuse her for a moment, and the second they leave, she drops her arms, picks up her skirts and runs to greet Bayard in a gush of emotion. She's making use of Obfuscating Weirdness.
X Meets Y: This movie has been awkwardly compared to Labyrinth, a teenage girl ventures to a dream land in which serves as a metaphorical journey from sheltered girl into an experienced young lady, guided/challenged by a parental/mentor figure that gives off WAY too much squicky subtext, with clues from the "real world" the dream land is little more than in her head, and the Chronicles of Narnia films: a human girl is transported to a magical land inhabited by talking animals where a false ruler - an evil queen has taken over, where she learns she is arbitrarily the "Chosen One" who will defeat the evil queen and restore a benevolent ruler to the magical land.
So it is written, so WILL it be done. It was prophesied that Alice would slay the Jabberwocky before Alice was even given a proper understanding of what was going on when she reached Underland. She did try to Screw Destiny for a while, and even showed, eventually, that this was less Genre Blindness and more backbone (Off the Rails, as it were). But even that turned out to be part of the big prediction. Reminds one a little of Tolkien, with his God character saying stuff like "You thought you were singing against me, but that was part of my musical masterpiece all along."
There is an interesting zigzagging of this trope in the movie, what with Alice fleeing a forced marriage into Wonderland where she runs into another forced destiny, tries to screw it but still plays by it, carries out her destiny in Wonderland, but still manages to Screw Destiny in England!
Not quite - Despite the prophecy, Alice had the choice to say no at the end, same as the acceptance of marriage was ultimately her choice as well. For an admittedly rather short while before the big battle, it looked like she did/would go the Screw Destiny route. The point was that destinies are inevitable, but one can choose which destiny shall they follow.
Put bluntly, Alice fights, not because she is destined to, but because she WANTS to. In other words, she accepts Fate, but on her terms.