Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Alice In Wonderland

Lately, I saw the umpteenth movie version of Alice in Wonderland.  Which also happens to be the umpteenth movie on which Tim Burton and Johnny Depp have collaborated.  Which also happens to be the umpteenth movie in which Johnny Depp plays the crazy, eccentric, and "mad" character.

Tim Burton's Alice loosely based off Lewis Carroll's novel shows us a grown-up Alice who has somehow forgotten her first incredible trip to Wonderland.  Played by People Magazine covergirl (kidding) Mia Wasikowska, Alice is at her wedding when she runs after the White Rabbit and stumbles down the rabbit hole.  Enter slightly goofy 3D images that look just plain awkward when you're watching the 2D version of the film.  At the bottom of the hole, she does a bit of growing and shrinking before she can open the door into Wonderland.  There she meets Tweedledee and Tweedledum before being chased by the Red Queen's minions and the Knave of hearts.  The Red Queen wants to cut off Alice's head because she is prophesied to slay the Jabberwock, a favorite pet of the Queen's.  Any of this sound familiar from the novel?  Or even its sequel, Through the Looking Glass?  Tim Burton basically takes Carroll's poem Jabberwocky, and makes a story about it, casting Alice as the hero.

Although Johnny Depp's name is on the cover of the dvd box, he doesn't actually steal the show.  He plays his part very well, but I think the less-famous Helena Bonham Carter does an even better job of portraying her character as the Red Queen.  My parents think she will be nominated for an Oscar next year.  I wish I could say she will be, but the chances of that happening are next to none.  How deep was the Red Queen's character in this movie?  Did the actress really have to work hard exploring the Queen's emotions to understand her completely?  No.  The Red Queen, at least in this movie, is not a very complex or challenging character, especially when 33% of her lines is "Off with their heads!!!"  Embodying the Red Queen is not as great an achievement as, say, becoming Julia Child.  Or the Emperor...

Visually, the movie is fascinating.  The CG scenery is very pretty, and the many creatures range from cute to weird to intimidating.  My dad said it was more visually detailed than Avatar.  On that debate, we are living on different planets.  Alice is wonderful in detail, but it can't compare to the 12, count 'em, 12 years of drawing, building, filming, developing and animating the amazing world of Pandora.

Overall, Alice makes a very nice 99 cent Dish pay-per-view experience.  It's a fun family adventure full of adventure and fun for the whole family.

Grade: B


  1. hmmm. note from your parents: we did not say that. methinks we mentioned she's BEEN nominated several times before. and methinks we might have said that the movie itself is worthy of oscar noms in a couple categories ...

    anywhoo, we liked it. way more than we thought we would. ;-)

  2. Note to Author from Dad...Yes, I can count to 12. I can count to 12 by 1s, 2s, 3s, 4s and 6s; which is why we don't use the metric system to build houses...10 is only divisible evenly by 1, 2 and 5. But that is a different topic entirely.
    Logically, the number of years that a project takes can only be loosely tied to the quality of the finished product. A more likely explanation for the development time is that James Cameron used consultants who bill by the hour versus salaried Disney employees who profit from an increase in share price from the publicly traded company. The sooner the film makes money, the sooner they profit personally.
    However, I might have to watch Neytiri, errr Avatar, again to compare the two. I thought you would have commented on the common thread of both movies; both hero and heroine, unsure of thier purpose or future, take an 'all-or-nothing' risk and discover thier true potential...but that's not as exciting as CGI, right?

  3. Big Dude,

    Ah, you got me. But do you mean consultants like you? I actually thought the theme of Neytiri - excuse me, Avatar - was more "duty vs. justice". Or perhaps "putting the values of others before one's own personal life (Get you your legs back, your real legs)".

  4. Dude, I LOVED this move. Johnny pwned in it as he always does when he plays, in The Author's words, 'crazy, eccentric, and "mad"' characters, and I seriously don't think Bonham Carter would an Oscar for this movie. She wasn't THAT good in it.

    Maybe you didn't know, but this movie was a compilation of several of Lewis Carrol's works: Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass, and the poem Jabberwocky.

    My opinion. :)

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