Alice in Wonderland is the reason you’re no longer able to see Avatar in 3D at your local IMAX, and it’s totally a bad switch. Johnny Depp is undoubtedly Tim Burton’s muse, starting with Edward Scissorhands, and going through a litany of projects together including Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow, Corpse Bride, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd and probably something else I didn’t glean off of IMDB.
Why you’ll like it:
Fun, creative and silly. Visually stimulating with some pretty fun actors playing make-believe.
This isn’t classic Alice in Wonderland, this tale picks up many years after the first visitation (which you can kind of pick whether it was the classic Disney cartoon or one of the many live action iterations). Alice has forgotten that she ever went to “Underland” (as it’s referred to there) and only thinks herself slightly mad. Escaping a party that seems rigged for the moment her suitor has staged for his rather underwhelming proposal, she chases the white rabbit down the hole. We are quickly introduced into a world where the Queen of Hearts (Helena Bonham Carter) has taken over the land, spreading her tyranny far and wide. The White Queen, played wonderfully by Anne Hathaway is holed up in her castle, awaiting the foretold prophecy of victory to be fulfilled by “THE” Alice.
This sets the stage for Depp’s Mad Hatter to spend his ridiculous oddities on his belief that this Alice, is THE Alice. Depp is good, thankfully I haven’t seen his Willie Wonka impression so I don’t know how close (if at all) they resemble each other, but he plays it well even if the character does seem a tad forced into the story. In fact, everyone plays their part very well. My biggest fear was that the visual effect of the big headed Queen of Hearts would look too CGI-ish and ruin it, but even that came off well. Probably my favorite character would still have to be the Cheshire Cat though, unless the Queen’s Card soldiers count, because I apparently loved them so much they showed up in a dream, we were playing basketball, but that’s kind of off topic (though seems to appropriately fit in my Mad Hatterish mind).
Why you won’t like it:
At times a little too silly. There’s some lulls, this is largely forgettable.
The world was beautifully created, if seemingly untouchable. Probably my greatest offense was actually the 3D technology, this wasn’t filmed in true 3D. Maybe I’m a visual-phile, but it was terribly noticeable, it fit the IMAX screen perfectly yet was awful to watch it get choppy when lots of action started popping. This isn’t Avatar, it shouldn’t be seen in 3D. The only other offense I feel obligated to spoil here (that’s the spoiler warning, it’ll continue to the end of this paragraph, so read on or jump to the next paragraph) is the end where the Hatter suddenly kicks on some funk/hip-hop and starts dancing some kind of weird krump/C-walk hybrid mixed in with silly animations. It’s awful, it’s out of place in context of the world and it isn’t even greatly executed. It was so bad it really dampened the entire movie for me. I hated it. There, I’ve said it.
In the end, it wasn’t a grand epic re-telling of a cherished movie. It seemed more like Burton trying to be “Burton-y” by making something that was wild and colorful into a slightly Gothic version of itself. There was still some small amount of magic, the performances were well enough, but maybe I should stop expecting Burton to be brilliant anymore, he seems to have checked his creative juices at the door these days, choosing instead to promote upcoming talent like Shane Ackerman (“9”). Good? Yes. The better way to describe it is probably “good enough”.
3 stars out of 5.
Starring: Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway
Director: Tim Burton
Running Time: 1 hr. 48 min.
Release Date: March 5, 2010