Rated PG for fantasy action/violence involving scary images and situations, and for a smoking caterpillar.
Directed By: Tim Burton
Written By: Linda Wolverton
Based On The Novel By: Lewis Caroll
Staring: Helena Bonham Carter, Johnny Depp, Alan Rickman, Mia Wasikowska, Anne Hathoway, Crispin Glover, Matt Lucas, Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen, Barbara Windsor, Paul Whitehouse, and Timothy Spall
You were much more… muchier. You’ve lost your muchiness. -The Mad Hatter
Tim Burton’s “Alice In Wonderland” may not be what you expect. If you go in wanting the darkness, the violence, and originality, you may find yourself disappointed. Alice is rated “PG” and pushes the boundaries of that “PG”, but is clearly a film for the family. In spite of the fact that my expectations diverted from said initial hopes, I did thoroughly enjoy this film. There isn ’t anything ground breaking or overwhelmingly noteworthy about it, but Alice was a well told story, performed well, and very entertaining. This is easily a movie I could watch over and over again and enjoy more with time and that in itself is an huge compliment.
Sometimes simplicity says more, and I appreciated the fact that Burton actually restrained himself. He didn’t get carried away with creating his own world. He created his vision of what Wonderland would have been, and that happened to be both beautiful, dark, and mysterious. Where Burton truly succeeded was with this enigmatic and beautiful vision on Wonderland. It was a magical and wondrous place and filled with compelling characters played by very smart casting. Taking the narrative and continuing it, made it fresh and invigorating giving the old tale it’s homage, but giving us viewers something new to learn and enjoy without straying too far from the beaten path.
As I stated before, this was definitely a family film, but it also contained some of Burton’s offbeat sense of humor, but it was conveyed very well. I was laughing regularly and so was my six year old son. The rest of the theater remained quiet and I couldn’t imagine why. If anything, I’m seeing a larger affection for it from the children’s audience and that makes sense. They aren’t going to care that Elfman ‘s score is far too resembling of other Burton flicks, nor would they care about the gimmicky way the 3D is incorporated. They just think it’s cool, and as far as those things go, they are better off for not caring.
As much as I don’t’ want to say it was one of the problems I had, Elfman’s score was far too much of a hybrid of other Tim Burton film scores. And some of the shots of the scenery felt reminiscent of other movies of his as well. What it did was take me away from Alice’s magical world and make me wonder about what other world I’d heard that tune or seen that tree in before, and was unfortunately an annoying distraction.
I really loved the characters, and enjoyed the performances which were lovely, and the visual appearances of their existences were extraordinary. Helena Bonham Carter was the true star for me as the insecure and maniacal Red Queen. She didn’t exactly ask for any pity, but her character wasn’t a one dimensional matriarch. I loved behind her penetrating eyes was the deep sense of hurt. Depp as the Mad Hatter was what we all expected he would be, insanely brilliant. He didn ‘t always steal the scene, but I felt like he was the “scarecrow” of the movie. The character who kept Alice grounded and the story as well, which is ironic considering he was MAD. Hathoway’s performance as the White Queen was awkward, but I think it was supposed to be. She was way over the top, and since HBC was so dark and loathsome I could see why Burton wanted the White Queen to be such a defined antithesis of her sister. The rest of the voice-overs and performers really added to the essence of the movie, which had exciting and complicated characters and really gave Alice it’s needed depth.
Once again I found myself felling like the 3D was unnecessary, even though it had a few moments of charm. From an adult perspective I could have done without, but from a kids, they were getting a kick out of it. So 3D for kid movies? I guess it makes sense for them, just not for me. I have a hard time thinking anything is going to compare to Avatar’s 3D and therefore I’m still convinced it’s an overrated gimmick. Maybe for kids movies this option has some appeal, but for my own experience I could have done without.
I thoroughly enjoyed Alice for what it was, a traditional straight forward tale told with some imagery that was pretty impressive and some really enchanting performances. The ending felt a little anti-climatic and I still walked out of the theater feeling very satisfied. It wasn’t everything I had imagined or even hoped, but it was something else all together good anyway. This will certainly find it’s way into my DVD collection and be a very well loved and watched movie over time.
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