Alice in Wonderland Not Quite Magical

Alice in WonderlandI’ve never taken acid, but if I did, somehow I’d imagine the experience to run similarly to Tim Burton’s vision in his latest release, Alice in Wonderland.  The trippy film has its moments in this tale that is actually a sequel to the traditional Alice in Wonderland that we all know.  Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is a young woman now, no longer the golden-locks innocent girl sipping tea that most are familiar with.  While the color of her hair remains unchanged, the poor lass is actually somewhat distraught in life as it seems she is trying to find herself.  She cannot relate to the numerous adults around her or even her peers.  What is a girl to do?  Why run away and be free!  It’s your time that they stole!  Counter boredom with choice!  Find the old rabbit hole!

Ah, the Hatter would be proud.  Speaking of the Mad Hatter, Johnny Depp dons the fitted brim as the kooky man who is determined to help Alice on her second visit to Wonderland.  That ‘help’ is required due to the Red Queen’s (Helena Bonham Carter) rule over the fantastical kingdom that features all types of impossible creatures and flora.  Her penalties are deadly and those she lets live serve merely as servants to her cruel and unjust bidding.  Alice will find a slew of allies on her reluctant adventure that feature the likes of some very talented actors including the Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry), White Rabbit (Michael Sheen), the Blue Caterpillar (Alan Rickman), and the White Queen (Anne Hathaway).  All parties involved shined in their moments, but Paul Whitehouse’s delivery of the purely insane March Hare was quite the laugh-inducing performance at times.

After seeing the film in 3D, and keep in mind that I am not a big fan of 3D, I must say that it is the only way to see this movie.  So much is lost in traditional 2D due to the arrangement of Alice’s effects and the atmosphere they create.  The movie is certainly heavy-handed in the special effects category, though this does not detract from the story.  If anything, these visual wonders are born out of necessity in a movie where a superb transition has been made from someone’s imagination to the big screen.  Think of it as Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, a bit grown up, through Tim Burton’s eyes, and with a drop of Lord of the Rings added (I said ‘a drop,’ don’t get all crazy on me). 

Unfortunately, the movie does have its lull when somewhere past the hour mark feels like you are watching a three-hour piece, making you wonder when it is just going to get to the point already.  Alice in Wonderland is a mixed bag of flavor overall.  The fight scenes are nothing special, the animation is beautifully smooth, and the scenes with the big vs. small proportions are mostly convincing, though not in every case.  I’d still recommend a cinema viewing and only in 3D.  Some may argue that a good film shouldn’t have to rely solely on eye candy to be entertaining.  I have to disagree with that statement as it’s like saying a car shouldn’t have to be comfortable to enjoy.  Sure, you can take all the frills out and it still gets you from A to B just like the souped-up showroom model.  Nevertheless, that leather-seat, V-8 convertible is a lot more fun. 

The same applies here.  The special effects are part of this film’s personality and charm.  Alice in Wonderland is slightly better than average when you take the whole production into account as it does struggle to stay afloat in parts, but if you are going to watch it, do it right.  See this in 3D.  Society is not going to be able to enjoy this level of 3D at home any time soon (i.e. don’t wait for video) and seeing the 2D cinema experience will be more like having leftovers for dinner.  Spend the extra money and enjoy yourself.  


Alice in Wonderland Theatrical Poster 

Alice in Wonderland Limited Edition Cards



4 Responses to “Alice in Wonderland Not Quite Magical”

  1. Brian White

    OK…a recommendation from you for 3D comes as quite a surprise I must say, but I still can’t figure out from your review whether or not you liked this or if you are just saying that if you’re going to see this make sure it is in 3D. I almost get the feeling from reading this that the movie is so-so, but 3D is truly the gimmick here. Am I wrong? I would hate to lay down $14 on a matinee ticket for a so-so movie.

  2. Gregg

    The 3D effect is not a gimmic, but part of the necessity of this film. The movie was okay overall. It had some great parts and lagging points. See my last paragraph:

    “Alice in Wonderland is slightly better than average when you take the whole production into account as it does struggle to stay afloat in parts…”

  3. Brian White

    I think I will pass on this one. You just don’t sound too excited about this one.

  4. Chris Stuckmann

    This seems to be a love hate film for some odd reason. I guess not everyone can just buy into crazy imaginative acid trips!