*****DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE MOVIE*****
So, I have been reading lots of movie reviewers opinions about Tim Burton's 'Alice In Wonderland' and have grown very tired of reviewers who just don't really get where the movie is coming from. So I thought I would review the film! I know I will be a little biased, but I think it is always cool for fans to read what other fans think, as you get more in depth and deeper perspectives from fans of a movie, than from random movie reviewers who get paid to talk about movies that they probably wouldn't even see if they were given a choice.
So here is my review of Tim Burton's 'Alice In Wonderland' ~
To begin, full disclosure. I'm a HUGE Tim Burton fan. And I also love Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and 99% of the whole cast. But like I said, this is a fan review, for fans.
This version of the 'Alice In Wonderland' story, as you will know, is a sequel of sorts. Alice, now 19 years, falls back into the "Wonderland" that she discovered as a youth. I loved the way they treated this story. Alice has had the same dream throughout her youth about weird and wonderful creatures which she later realises is not a dream, but traces of a memory of her first adventure in Wonderland. I think this plays on how we all feel about certain dreams and childhood memories. Sometimes, when are kids (hell, even when we are adults!), we blend our dreams and fantasies with our memories and as we get older, we tend to dismiss the "impossibilties" that we dream up, so it was cool to have that connection with Alice as she at first resists the idea of Underland being real and then remembering the words of her father and believing in the impossibilities.
I should also note that I don't even bother comparing this movie specifically to the books or the Disney movie or any other version of 'Alice In Wonderland'. I think if you compare them like that, you set yourself up for disappointment. I prefer to look at them all individually, and look at how they all work together to create the 'Alice In Wonderland' narrative as a whole.
The point of all the incarnations of Alice, to me, has always been that she is a little girl, living in an oppressive era, who just wants and needs to let her mind run wild. Usually, she is pretty passive in her adventures, she observes the lunacy and she plays along. In Tim Burton's 'Alice In Wonderland', her previous visit was almost in preparation for present visit, which is purposeful and important for the fulfilment of a prophesy. I think that this storyline was important because it shows Alice shifting from a young girl "dreaming" of the world's impossibilities, to a young woman exploring
the world's impossibilities. I liked that they showed this with the Alice character and I think they pulled it off.
The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
Johnny Depp as The Mad Hatter
I think I agree with argument that this is a Johnny Depp movie. While I LOVED his Mad Hatter, at some point in the movie, a lot of people will probably come to the conclusion that this movie should have been called 'The Mad Hatter In Wonderland'. I think this happened for a number of reasons:
1) Johnny Depp is Johnny Depp. He brings the hype and that brings the money. With Johnny Depp's career the way it is right now, studios want him and they want a lot of him.
2) The Mad Hatter is very, very noticable, both visually and in terms of personality.
3) The Alice/Mad Hatter relationship is very sweet. They are two sides of the same coin. In their conversation about whether or not he was real, you can see that both of them are desperately worried about being "real", while also being frightened and intrigued by the question AND the answer.
So I think overall, Johnny Depp's outrageous performance, coupled with Tim Burton, story development and character relationships, The Mad Hatter really does play a very prominent role in the movie. Some people have said its too much. I don't personally think it was too much, especially if you go into the movie knowing that The Mad Hatter plays a very big role. Later on, I will explain why I think it does disadvantage the movie a little though.
Helena Bonham Carter as The Red Queen
I say GENIUS. Loved her. Some people have said that she is just ripping other people off, but to them I say, "oh shut up". You can't play a role like The Red Queen without a) pulling from other people's work, and b) being totally over the top. That, to me, is kinda the point of the role.
Crispin Glover as Stayne, Knave Of Hearts
User icons never lie, I loved the Knave. Deliciously twisted and a little bit revolting. I think Crispin Glover played him so perfectly awkward and perverted. Yeah, he's a bad guy, but what a great bad guy. He looked awesome too.
Stephen Fry as The Cheshire Cat
Visually, I LOVED the way that The Cheshire Cat evaporated, and with the 3D effect, it was really that much cooler. Plus, Stephen Fry in the perfect role! He was so brilliant at being wise, yet spacey. I really, REALLY wish he had had a bigger role in the movie. He could have acted as Alice's guide a little more and made more of a connection with her, I feel. But the parts he did play were BRILLIANT.
Alan Rickman as The Caterpillar / Absolem
Another genius bit of casting. So perfect I don't even have anything to say about it. Due to the powerful scenes The Caterpillar had, I think that I don't even mind that he wasn't in that many scenes. The scenes that he was in were vitally important and that makes up for the smallness (screentime wise) of his role.
Anne Hathaway as The White Queen
I have to confess that I have never, ever liked anything that Anne Hathaway has ever done, so I am very biased here. On the plus side, she looked FANTASTIC in the role. But everytime she opened her mouth and tried to act, I just could not connect with it. I liked the little touches like the gag reflexes and the way she walked/floated around. But overall, her performance seemed a little flat and weak (her acting, not necessarily her character) to me, especially when the other characters were so grand and powerful. I really found myself wanting The Red Queen to continue her reign of terror, because The White Queen just didn't deserve to have the crown! But maybe thats just my dislike of Anne Hathaway's acting skills. Or lack of them...
Ok, my only 'WTF?!' moment was when The Mad Hatter busts out his dance moves and does what appears to be hip-hop/crump/crunk or whatever you want to call it, which the matching style of music. I get the significance of the dance at that point of the movie and I love the link back to Alice at the end of the movie, but that music and that dance style what not what I had expected and, normally I wouldn't mind when something like that comes out of the blue, but I just thought it was too incongruent with the rest of the tone of the movie. It almost seemed like an after-thought. Kinda like they said "Lets try and add something really relevant for todays hip-hop culture... I know! Johnny Depp will break-dance!" The movie didn't need that, because the whole movie is relevant to current culture.
I think so, to a certain extent. Perhaps a little to neat and tidy in some parts, but I think that is counter-balanced by characters like Stayne and The Mad Hatter when in super-creepy mode. Plus, when Stayne tried to kill The Red Queen and then begs to be killed (my favourite White Queen moment is when she says that she does not owe the Knave a kindness. I liked Anne Hathway's delivery of that speech, I will give her that.). But other scenes, like the Mad Hatter's dance, and some of Alice's scenes, were a little too clean-cut and you could really see the Disney influence in those bits. I don't think that is a good or a bad thing, it just sticks out a little and you notice it.
I thought the 3D worked brilliantly for when Alice fell down the hole and for The Chesire Cat and The Caterpillar, with all the smoke effects, and also the flashbacks to Alice's first visit when she was younger. But I don't think 3D is really necessary or any movie, let alone this one. I could take it or leave. In some parts I found it a little distracting, like at the beginging of the movie in Alice's father's office and at the engagement party. Overall, I don't the 3D effect neither helped nor hindered the movie. It is what it is.
As a fan, awesome. It was a great adventure from start to finish.
Where I think the movie falls down is that there are too many characters that pull you in and make you interested in them. Too many larger-than-life characters that could hold movies in their own right. So I think while the movie wants to tell more of Alice's story and show how she has grown up, I think her voice gets a little buried under too many other characters that there just isn't enough room for.
But like I said, this is a fan review, from a fan of Tim Burton movies, the 'Alice In Wonderland' stories and a number of the actors. I loved the movie for what it was.