Jonathan's Movie Review - Alice In Wonderland
I found this on the “Alice in Wonderland” IMDB trivia, which I think is important to mention. “Despite the fact that there have been many other Alice in Wonderland films, Tim Burton has said he never felt a emotional connection to it and always thought it was a series of some girl wondering around from one crazy character to another. (In fact, the original books are part of a once-popular fantasy genre in which the character does nothing except wander around from one crazy encounter to another. Those films which replicated this were being true to the spirit of the original books.) So with this, he attempted to create a framework, an emotional grounding, which he felt he never really had seen in any version before. Burton said that was the challenge for him - to make Alice feel like a story as opposed to a series of events.”
That was one of my problems with the horrible 1951 Disney cartoon; there really was no story to it at all. Burton is right. There was never any sort of emotional connection to anything in Carroll’s novel or the Disney movie. If I were to make an Alice In Wonderland movie, I would have had the same objective as Burton described. And with that intention he had, he somewhat succeeded. It is obvious he tried to connect the story to the characters, but it still felt like Alice randomly walking around to different quirky people. And one of those people is of course the Mad Hatter.
I like Johnny Depp, but he decides when he will deliver a good performance, or a basic one. For example, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” challenged him to get in the mind of the very strange Hunter S. Thompson. The way he depicted Ed Wood in the movie with the same title was outstanding. His use of expression in “Edward Scissorhands” was just amazing. And his performances in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies were hilarious and couldn’t have been played by anybody else. Then I see him in “Charlie in the Chocolate Factory”. Now that performance wasn’t bad, but it was just out of place and confusing. I think he looked at Gene Wilder’s performance, and only adopted the strange part of the character, and nothing else. Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter is sort of like a Willy Wonka performance. He doesn’t really try that hard. However, I do have to give him credit for making his character seem like a person. I just wish he could have pushed the envelope a little more, but not completely, if that makes any sense.
As for the rest of the cast; Mia Wasikowska (who plays Alice) is fine, but is one note throughout the whole thing. Helena Bonham Carter plays the Red Queen very well. Alan Rickman voices the smoking blue caterpillar and Anne Hathaway, who plays the White Queen, both seem tired and pretty out of it. I do like the Cheshire Cat in this movie. And Stephen Fry voices him very well compared to Sterling Holloway who played him in the Disney version.
Another point to make is the look of the film and the effects. Once again, Tim Burton’s artistic filmmaking style is very visible here. Dark and gloomy backgrounds, the colors white, black, and red, and obscure costumes. I don’t care if it’s repetitive; I love watching Burton’s films just for those sorts of things. Yes the effects do look fake, but the cartoonish look of them created a fantasy-world kind of feeling.
I know that what I said sounds generally negative, but that’s when I break the film down and observe it. I’m not going to buy it when it comes out. I might not even see it again. But it was a fun little 3D popcorn movie.
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