Saturday, December 18, 2010

DVD Quick Review: Alice in Wonderland

I was really reluctant to see this version of Alice in Wonderland.  I'm a big fan of Johnny Depp, but much less so of Tim Burton or Tim Burton's Helena Bonham Carter (she's good in other things).  However, I've been really enjoying the early career of Mia Wasikoska (she plays Alice here, Joni in The Kids are All Right, and had a small role in Amelia that was fun) so I decided to give it a chance.  I don't know if it was Johnny's presence or the psychedelic "Wonderland" but I was strongly reminded of The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus.   This version of Alice took the source material from Lewis Carroll and went a bit further.  There are a lot of the characters and language used from the poem "Jabberwocky" - the bandersnatch, vorpal sword, etc. which did make understanding all of the dialogue difficult without subtitles.  The strange made-up words and then Depp's occasional Scottish accent (which I think was used to distinguish when he was "mad" and when he wasn't, but it's hard to tell) made most of the best dialogue hard to figure out.  Mia Wasikoksa was terrific - bending between disbelief of Wonderland's reality and committing to living in that reality.  Each of the classic characters were represented and it was nice that they didn't feel the need to explain them all, but understanding the underlying fight between the red and white queens made for a confusing battle (the White Queen isn't in the Disney version).  Anne Hathaway as the White Queen was ridiculous (her flitting about was stupid) and the big headed CGI Red Queen was also a bit overdone when the rest of the world didn't go quite that far.  But ultimately, the movie succeeds because you don't need to understand it, you just need to experience it and accept that we're all going to miss thing (go mad) from time to time.  Definitely not a kids movie.  3 of 5 stars/lambs


The Mad Hatter said...

I seem to remember being the lone voice of support on this film...which while far from perfect, still gave me a lot to mull on for the price of an admission ticket.

I dearly wish that Burton had taken on this project all on his own, rather than acting as Disney's hired-gun. There were lots of traces of darkness in the film (Hatter muttering "Jabberwocky", the river of bloody heads) that I have to believe he might have come up with a truer vision if he'd been able to work on it with a studio unconcerned with a G-rated product.

Jess said...

How appropriate that you're the first comment. I think you nailed my biggest problem with the movie, it was uneven and felt restrained in some parts and over the top in others such that many things felt out of place. I need to see it again to grasp all the dialogue. I'll go find your review.