Director: Tim Burton
Production Company: Walt Disney Pictures
Description: In a retelling of a classic tale by Lewis Carroll, Tim Burton and Walt Disney Pictures take this story on another trip, this time with Alice (Mia Wasikowska) being an older version of her previous self. Now nineteen, she is on the verge of being proposed to when she is distracted by the appearance of a white rabbit in a vest. She suddenly heads off to follow and subsequently falls into a rabbit hole. From there Alice finds out about Underland, which she had referred to as Wonderland in her younger years. The Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) and her knight Stayne (Crispin Glover) are insistent on taking over the land and it is Alice’s job to stop her. With the help of the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), a smoking caterpillar (Alan Rickman), and other familiar characters, Alice must defeat the Red Queen’s Jabberwocky and return the White Queen (Anne Hathaway) as the proper queen of the land.
The Good: This movie had a lot of great potential. Just a glance at the cast and director, and especially with Disney backing this picture, it had a lot of good things going for it. I couldn’t help but think of all the other movies some of them were in, like Glover as George McFly in Back To The Future and Carter as Bellatrix LeStrange in the Harry Potter series. And how many movies from Burton can we think of off the top of our heads? Batman, Batman Returns, Edward Scissorhands (also with Depp), Charlie And The Chocolate Factory (also with Depp), Beetlejuice, etc. This movie is right up Burton‘s alley. In fact, I could see Burton and Carroll having a really good conversation about this story, bouncing ideas off each other.
But back to the movie itself. A decent story all in all, but it felt like it could have been planned out a little better. I really liked the inferences at the beginning of the movie to the book that hadn’t made its way into the movie yet, such as white roses that could be painted red. Alice plays it all off like she doesn’t know any of her past history with Underland, so these comments appear to be random, yet suitable.
The one character that probably made this movie work was the Red Queen. Carter played the role well, being loud and obnoxious when necessary and showing off facial expressions which must have been difficult given the amount of makeup she had on. Without her, this movie would have been quite a failure overall.
The Bad: 3D was a waste of money. There was almost nothing gained by going to 3D. If any of you have checked out the 3D TVs out there, that is pretty much what this movie’s 3D effects were like. Just like the TVs, the movie was shot in a standard 2D format, then converted after the fact into 3D, thus giving the movie some depth, but nothing that makes the viewer feel like they’re really there.
The worst character had to be Depp‘s Mad Hatter. Maybe not so much as it was a bad character, but more in the fact that with Depp playing this character, and being one of the main characters in the story, I felt that he could’ve done a better job with it. One of the things that really threw me was his random use of a Scottish accent, which many times I couldn’t understand what he was saying. It also bothered me that Burton didn’t do anything about that, which then made me wonder how much Burton was in charge of this, or did he allow Depp to do his own thing because, well, it’s Johnny Depp. And he’s also kinda creepy, which I guess he does well.
Some of the animation was a miss. The most notable animation that looked odd would be when Stayne would jump onto his horse and ride away, which happened a couple times in the movie, but none of them seemed to work right. Most of the other animation was quite good though, as well as the virtual environment developed for the movie.
The White Queen, or probably more accurately Hathaway‘s portrayal of the White Queen, was kind of annoying to watch. In every scene, her arms are lifted like they were controlled by Muppeteers. Or maybe she was conducting an orchestra just off camera. Either way, it was unnecessary to the role and just made things look a bit ridiculous.
Overall: A familiar story with the Burton twist. Things could have been better, but it’s not a bad movie. There were just some details that could have been ironed out. Worth a rent, but probably not worth a buy. It’ll look really nice on Blu-Ray, especially given that animated environments tend to look really nice in high definition. I really like Burton regularly, and I had high expectations for this movie. While it fell a bit short, I’m still glad I saw it. I love the story from Carroll, and given the minds of his and Burton, there was a lot of creativity here that makes the overall experience enjoyable. Enjoy this movie for what it’s worth and don’t expect too much more.