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Movie Review: Alice in Wonderland (March 5, 2010)

Director: Tim Burton
Screenplay: Linda Woolverton
Release Date: March 5, info 2010
Actors: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover, Stephen Fry, Alan Rickman, Michael Sheen

Having just returned from vacation, and with two drafts still in my queue, I’ve decided to go ahead and just write up my review on Alice in Wonderland, so that it is fresh in my memory, and I don’t get any further behind!

I went into this movie expecting very little, as I’m not normally a huge fan of Tim Burton‘s works, as it gets too strange or too quirky (which is what I thought of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which was one of my favorite childhood books). But the quirkiness really works for Alice in Wonderland here. How ridiculous can it get with the Queen of Hearts running around, a vanishing cat with a grossly huge grin, a mad hatter with his rabbit friends holding a tea party? This is what Tim Burton can only dream of. He took crazy characters and made them more wild, with the Queen of Hearts (played by the ever talented Helen Bonham Carter) and gave her a huge bobble like head. She is absolutely a riot with perhaps the only thing she ever consistently says is “Off with [her/his/their] head[s]!”

The White Queen (played by Anne Hathaway) walks around seemingly on air, in the most ‘queen’ like manner. Watching her movements are laughable but delightful at the same time. Her castle was all white, and pure, with her lips a dark black. Her character is almost that of an angel, where she has taken a vow never to hurt a living thing.

And of course, Johnny Depp as the quirky Mad Hatter is almost second nature to him, as he has done far too many absurd roles as of late. I have to say though, I wasn’t very fond of his Mad Hatter, and found myself wanting to see more of the Queen of Hearts or the White Queen. I’d like to see Johnny Depp stretch and actually do something serious for a change. It gets tiring to see him in the same role over and over again. He could have been Jack Sparrow, or Willy Wonka, who could have tell the difference? Makeup doesn’t mean you’re a different character. I was half expecting Helena Bonham Carter’s Queen of Hearts to be the same evil mess she always portrays,but I was delighted to see differently.

Mia Wasikowska was at times, wonderful as an older Alice (who is currently unrecognizable with her new pixie cut), yet I felt she seemed flat other times, with absolutely no expression. I don’t remember Alice being so … plain. Curious, yes. She was perhaps the weakest link in the movie, but it was not enough to deter oneself to enjoy the adventure that she was on.

The other actors – Michael Sheen, Alan Rickman (whom I absolutely love), and Stephen Fry were highlights playing the White Rabbit, Chesire Cat, and the Blue Caterpillar. Unfortunately, they had hardly any screen time.

Anyone who goes into the movie expecting Lewis Carroll’s books should head straight out of the movie theatre. It is neither Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. The screenplay is not terribly creative either, but given my expectations of probably disliking the movie, and finding that I quite enjoyed myself in the end might skew my thoughts to be more positive than the movie really was. I do think the best parts were the visuals (and the castle and grounds of which the White Queen lives is absolutely breathtaking) and the lines that all the characters that lived in Wonderland had to say. They were all just so witty and quirky. Perhaps that is why Alice seems so plain, as she just stood out as a sore thumb of being so — normal.

The film fails to find its core or center, its purpose, but it’s a fun and colorful adventure as one rides with Alice on her ups and downs, in her journey to find who she is, what she’s capable of, and her inner strength. At times, it felt a bit rushed when it switched from one scene to the next, but other times, it felt a bit slow. I guess it all averaged out in the end.

The 3D effect was average, as I find most 3D movies these days, and it was nice that it wasn’t the traditional ‘let’s see what we can throw at the audience to make then jump’ 3D, and more of a viewing window into the world of Wonderland. On average, I would say that Alice in Wonderland was definitely enjoyable. Burton is heavy on style than substance, and so long as one can accept that before entering the movie, it’s safe to say that you can put aside your predispositions and sit back and enjoy the fun and quirky characters.

I give it a solid 2.5 Mad Hatters / 5 Mad Hatters.

Official Trailer via Youtube

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