Alice In Wonderland: Through The Looking Glass Lies A Movie Lacking Wonder
Growing up I was a fan of "Alice in Wonderland." The tea cups are one of my favorite rides at Disneyland. When I was little I watched the Disney Channel show "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" (which by the way is worth finding on YouTube). So naturally when I heard that Tim Burton was doing an Alice in Wonderland movie with Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, I thought "finally someone is going to make a Wonderland movie that would be as crazed and messed up as Lewis Carroll intended it to be." When I heard that it would also be in 3D, March couldn't come soon enough.
Finally, March came and it was finally time for me to go down the rabbit hole. I gazed upon Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland" and was stunned at how... bland and lacking in wonder it was. Yes, as sad as I am to say the first blockbuster of the year is just another movie I wish I had rented.
The story goes like this: Alice, now nineteen played by Mia Wasikowska (Season One of HBO's "In Treatment", "Amelia", and "Defiance"), has no memory of her journey to Wonderland and instead thinks it was all just a recurring nightmare. Her fun loving and imaginative father has died and so has any creativity in her life. Her mother tries to get her to wed a Duke who doesn't like it when she says nonsensical things. Then Alice sees the White Rabbit and runs off to chase him and she falls down the rabbit hole. She assumes she's dreaming, yet everything feels so real.
She meets up with Tweedledee and Tweedledumb, the Caterpillar (voiced brilliantly by Alan Rickman), and of course Depp's Mad Hatter. He tells her that Wonderland has changed since she was last there and that the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) has taken over and made Wonderland a terrible place filled with arbitrary beheadings and bleakness. Alice is told that she must slay the Jabberwocky (they never explain why she's the only one) so that the White Queen (Anne Hathaway) can reclaim the throne.
I wanted to like this movie, I really did. I mean, I like that the premise is essentially the same as "Hook", but the problem is that as pretty as Wonderland is, it can't make up for the lack of execution in the story. While I buy the fact that Lewis Carroll himself was not a writer but a mathematician (among other disturbing things) who liked the illogical, if that's how you wanted to approach the story then add in some of the illogical. Instead, the movie is predictable and unoriginal; it keeps referencing things from the old Wonderland without adding anything new.
Anne Hathaway is wasted as the White Queen as she is barely in the movie, which is a shame because she does do a good job. In fact, the acting was not terrible; it's just that the writing is too dull for any visual or acting job to improve. Yes, that means that even Johnny Depp couldn't save this movie.
The other thing that bummed me out was the 3D. The film was actually shot in 2D but transferred over to 3D, meaning that they never intended to make full use of the amazing canvas that is Wonderland. That may be perhaps the biggest disappointment. I realize that no one expected "Avatar" to make 3D that lucrative, but I think that if Tim Burton had wanted to, his Wonderland could've blown the doors off of Cameron's Pandora. Oh well at least I know what a Jabberwocky and a Bandersnatch look like, although even then I was a little disappointed.
To me there are only three types of people who seemed to enjoy this movie, little kids, the Hot Topic crowd (Goth kids), and people who show up to the movie having just kissed the sky. Other then that the only thing people around me seemed to enjoy was the really awesome preview for "Tron Legacy".
If this doesn't sound enticing, then there is also "Brooklyn's Finest" starring Richard Gere, Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke, and Wesley "I need to pay off my tax debt" Snipes.
Thank you for reading and stay tuned as I review "She's Out of My League".
You can see these and other fine films at your local Edwards cinema, click here for showtimes.
One last thing: this review is a milestone for me as it marks my one year anniversary reviewing movies for KHTS. I was an intern attending COC and one day while doing office filing I mentioned that I was majoring in film and Jon Dell and Carol Rock were wonderful enough to let me do a review for "Watchmen" as a fun project. They then posted it and shocked me by asking me to do another. They helped me discover my style and that I actually had a knack for this.
Once my internship ended they were gracious enough to let me keep doing this for them and for that I'm eternally grateful. If I didn't have this gig I'd just be another annoying film nerd with a Facebook blog. I'd also like to thank everyone for reading my stuff and whether you agreed with me or thought that I was on something, I hope that I was able to bring a little entertainment into your day.