Unilaterally Sarcastic, Dangerously Cheesy

Film Review – Alice in Wonderland


I had intended to see this film in IMAX 3D but the only reasonably timed showing had already sold out by the time I showed up, so I had to settle for the regular screen format though I was able to get a 3D theater. With movies like this one, where the production was geared toward that format, I felt like if I saw a 2D rendering of it, somehow I would be missing out and not able to enjoy the movie to its full potential. I’ll grant you that Alice in Wonderland isn’t some unmissable piece of cinema, but I’m not going to see something where half the formula has been stripped.

As for the movie itself, I’ll begin by stating that if you like Tim Burton movies this is one that you can’t pass up. All his signature flares are here from the humour to the art design. This is practically porn for Burton enthusiasts, as the things that endear him as a director to that crowd are on full display here. For those of us who don’t think of Burton as some sort of godsend, the film is enjoyable in its own right. The cast is absolutely superb, playing their parts full bore, completely immersing themselves in character. Helena Bonham Carter is quite good as the Red Queen and Johnny Depp nails the schizophrenic lunacy of the Mad Hatter. The voice casting for the CG characters was spot-on as well, with Stephen Fry as Cheshire Cat being particularly entertaining. Not to mention Alan Rickman as the Blue Caterpillar. That man can do no wrong.

Tim Burton has pointed out in interviews that his goal in putting out this film was to add structure to the Alice in Wonderland tale. He contends that previous versions felt like individual scenes placed along a central timeline with no real connection to each other and that his goal was to add cohesion to the overal arc. He has actually managed this, somewhat. With a story and setting so mind-bogglingly askew, everything has to feel slightly disjointed if only to aid in setting the tone. Luckily, the two forces at work here in the film tend to balance each other out.

Mia Wasikowska does an admirable job as Alice, playing sweet and demure with courageous zeal. She’s also endlessly adorable. I couldn’t help but think she bore a striking resemblance to porn starlet Aurora Snow. But then again, I’m kind of a pervert. But here’s a picture of Aurora as Alice anyway.

Really, my one thought coming out of the movie was that the 3D was well done and that it certainly enhanced the film viewing experience, but that none of it felt integral. I hate to even bring it up, but Avatar used 3D in such a manner that you felt like without it the whole movie would feel drastically different. It was part of the movie. With Alice, that feeling isn’t there. The 3D is simply there. Which may help it in the long run, as I doubt I’ll ever watch Avatar again and feel the way I did while watching it on that IMAX screen.

In the end, this is a film worth seeing. Especially if you’re  a fan of the Lewis Carroll material. It’s most definitely a different take, but the tone feels right and the movie works on all the necessary levels. It’ll definitely have a place in the heart of thousands of Hot-Topic teenagers for years to come.

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