07 March 2010

Alice in Wonderland (review)

Director:  Tim Burton

Starring:  Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska


Among a series of adventures over the weekend, I saw the new Tim Burton film Alice in Wonderland, which shares common things in the original book but really follows its own path.  I haven’t really read the original book, but I did see Disney’s first rendition of it as a child.  Nonetheless, I believe that comparing a movie to its book counterpart is completely pointless.  The reasoning behind this is for another post.  But these are my thoughts on the movie, and the movie only.


First, I like the tight narration.  Everything that happened in the plot is essential to the story.  Things that happen in the end are alluded to in the beginning.  The end comes in full circle and left a satisfied feeling of completeness.


Going along with this, no subplots are left unresolved.  The focus of the movie is on Alice, so the development of the supporting cast is based on Alice’s adventures.  All knots are closed, all flaps are sealed.  A nice way to end things and yet there is still the hint that more adventures may await.  This is not a call for a sequel, this is merely the cliched “end is only the beginning”. 


I enjoyed the idea of two separate plots in the movie.  We see Alice in the real world and the problems she sees there, which involve how to act when so many people expect so many things from you.  Then we see Alice in Wonderland, where she faces the same kind of problems though with different expectations.  The lessons from one world are applied to the next, and we have a smooth and closed ending.


The casting was very well done.  Whoever cast the movie knew what they were doing.  Helana Bonham Carter was a fabulous Red Queen, and Johnny Depp was amazing as the Mad Hatter.  Both Carter and Depp were the best actors in the whole movie.  Anne Hathaway was good at the White Queen, but I feel like she restrained herself in the role.  I guess I’m just used to seeing Anne Hathaway in really awesome roles and the White Queen isn’t as awesome.  For the first time ever, I have seen Alan Rickman out of a villain role (other than Snape)!  I can die happy now.  The lovely actress portraying Alice (Mia Wasikowska) was lovely.  She had a nice attitude and great accent.  I felt her performance was a little stiff at times, but she was a really nice Alice. 


Costumes and makeup were quite amazing.  Johnny Depp’s eyes were absolutely cooky and really fit his character.  The credits listed a single person that did his makeup separate from the rest of the team.  Kudos to that individual (I did not catch their name) because they are a master at makeup.  And the costumes were fabulous!  I especially liked Alice’s dress as she was wandering around the Red Queen’s castle.  And the small shift the Mad Hatter made for her was really cute. 


The coolest thing about the movie:  Johnny Depp’s dance.  Enough said.


I have to say, I was not entirely blown away by the background or special effects in the movie.  Though interesting in the means, it wasn’t revolutionary or groundbreaking, just very fantastical.


I would still like to watch this movie again if only to watch it without a critical eye.  Word of advice: never ever watch something in the hopes of criticizing it.  You turn into a critic, and no one likes the critics.  A hypocrite, am I?  Yes, yes I am. 


This is a good movie, and very much enjoyable.  Recommended for Tim Burton fans and anyone who can’t decide what to see in the theaters.


For an interesting take on the making of Lewis Carroll’s original Alice in Wonderland, read this article in the New York Times.

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