Theatrical Review: Alice In Wonderland

A very young Alice Kingsley relates her classic adventure in Wonderland to her father, chalking it all up to a dream, though a mad and wonderful dream. thirteen years later, Alice, who tells us that this is the only dream she’s had, is about ready to make some important life decisions, when she’s beckoned by a white rabbit again to make another trip down a rabbit hole…

This should probably be titled Alice’s Return to Wonderland, rather than Alice In Wonderland as this newest movie from director Tim Burton is more a sequel than anything else. It’s also the sixth time that Burton has collaborated with actor Johnny Depp for a movie and his first foray into the realm of digital 3D.

But is it a good movie? Well, yes and no. On the plus side, it really looks terrific, the visual effects are very nice, though there is an air of artificiality around them (and I expect that’s by design). I like it’s use of 3D, though it’s not essential in seeing this movie (the better effect with some movies in 3D now seems to be a more focused audience more than anything else, and not necessarily inclined to making their own show in a theatre). And I certainly found some amusement in some of the things that they do here, in particular turning Alice into an action hero by it’s end complete with her own Schwarzenegger-esque line when defeating the Jabberwocky.

But where it fails is in it’s ultimate resolution for Alice, which can be seen coming, but then there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just not handled here with much of an impact that really feels satisfying. I found myself saying, “Really? That’s it?” at it’s end And though it’s not a long movie, it’s pacing is meandered at best, though I suppose it can be argued that it, seeming to being a dream to Alice, doesn’t necessarily have to follow the rules of a to-the-point narrative.

The performances are mixed. I tend to think Johnny Depp is here as the Mad Hatter more to mark another chance to work with Burton more than anything else. He’s not bad here, but it doesn’t really stand out as well. Mia Wasikowska plays Alice, and she’s more there to move this along than bringing any real depth to this (of course that can be blamed more with it’s script too). What’s more fun though is Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen and Anne Hathaway as the White Queen. Carter’s really into what she’s doing, even if it is one note, but still she revels in that note. Hathaway is just fun to watch here as she goes through her wispy, princess-y cartoon moves- like Carter, it’s one-note, but also like Carter, you can tell she’s having fun with the one note.

So it both works and it doesn’t. I still had a decent time with this, but I don’t think anyone should have to run out to see it, unless they really want to. It’s sort’ve like those old beer commercials, which you could paraphrase here as “looks great, but less filling” though your own mileage might vary.

About Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

14. March 2010 by Darren Goodhart
Categories: Text Reviews, Theatrical Review | Leave a comment

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