Monday, March 15, 2010

Movie review: Alice in Wonderland

With Baby Alice visiting with Mommom and Poppop, we found ourselves with the golden opportunity to take in a movie.  Top of the list:  Alice in Wonderland.

Pros:  Like all Tim Burton movies, it is if nothing else a decadent double chocolate gourmet hot fudge sundae for the eyes.  I wanted nothing more than to run home and start drawing.  In fact, I shall be doing so as soon as I finish typing this.  The theming and contrasting of everything Red Queen/White Queen was especially well-done, as well as the transitions of Alice’s costuming as she shrank and grew. 

My favorite costuming, though, would have to be in the “real world” of Alice.   While being unmistakably Victorian, there were still very subtle elements in little places.   A quirky fabric choice or a pattern with contemporary flair took them a step further than the standard period look, emphasizing the general “off” feeling of the entire film.

imageAs far as performances go, new starlet Mia Wasikowski does a great job as Alice.  I’m looking forward to seeing more of her.  I loved Anne Hathaway’s affectations as the ethereal White Queen.  She is one of my favorite actresses, and it was great to see her do something so different from her usual roles.  Of everyone in the film, she looked like she was actually having a lot of fun!  Alan Rickman was very well cast as the voice of the Caterpillar.  But then, I just adore the sound of his voice.  Seriously.  I want him to be my ringtone.

And Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter?  Not bad, just…a standard Johnny Depp performance for a Tim Burton movie.  While an amazingly versatile actor, its getting hard to differentiate  between his '”crazy” roles (i.e. Wonka).  Although his recitation of “Jabberwocky” did give me a happy chill.

Cons:  Don’t be fooled—this is still a Disney film.  And like everything Disney, there is an insistence on a plotline, even if it has to be shoehorned in there.  Anyone ever been on the original version of Kilimanjaro Safari at Animal Kingdom?  “Little Red is OK!” Heaven forbid we just ride in the truck and let the real animals be the stars.

The original Alice in Wonderland is less an actual story, and more a series of vignettes.  Yes, there is the overall little-girl-has-a-dream-and-then-wakes-up arch, but really, it’s about exploring what’s around the next corner of Wonderland, and watching Alice interact with the characters she encounters.

I realize this version takes place years after and apart from the original story.  However, (and the SyFy Channel’s recent version of ‘Alice’ is guilty of this also), the wacky personalities of Wonderland are meant to be simply visited and observed for a short while.  They aren’t meant to DO things.  Not to fight epic battles.  Not to have romantic entanglements with Alice.  Not to get down with their bad selves in a pop-style victory block party dance off. 

image Oh Johnny.  You were about 10 more dancing seconds away from a movie ending FAIL.

While it doesn’t quite live up to the hype, it is still a good and quite enjoyable movie, and a must see for any Alice or Johnny Depp fan. 

And while I’m on the subject of cinema:  is anyone else tired of everything being in 3D?  I’ve lived through the 80’s once already, thanks.

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