Alice in Wonderland

Director: Tim Burton

Cast: Mia Wasikowska (Alice), Johnny Depp (Mad Hatter), Helena Bonham Carter (Red Queen), Anne Hathaway (White Queen), Crispin Glover (Knave of Hearts), Stephen Fry (Cheshire Cat), Michael Sheen (White Rabbit), Alan Rickman (Blue Caterpillar)

Plot Summary: Nineteen-year-old Alice Lidell tumbles down a rabbit hole and finds herself in a fantasy world filled with magic and madness. A war is raging between the Red Queen and the White Queen, and Alice is pulled into the fight.

The Good

» Johnny Depp. Did we expect anything less? His turn as the Mad Hatter was nothing short of brilliant. I must confess that he was 90% of the reason why I went to the movie (Alan Rickman being the other 10%), and I was not disappointed. He made the Hatter creepy and loveable at the same time, and I daresay that this will be a performance that audiences won’t soon forget.

» Helena Bonham Carter. Always amazing, she really outdid herself this time. She completely fit my imagination’s characterization of the Red Queen, and her interactions with the Knave of Hearts (Crispin Glover – also amazing) were absolutely wonderful.

» The effects. Tim Burton is known for his visually stunning films and unique style; Alice certainly fits the bill. He made Wonderland come alive in a way that was exciting for both children and adults.

The Bad

» The 3D. While the hype for Alice‘s 3D experience was high, the delivery of it was low. I found the 3D to actually be more distracting than anything else, and there were several points in the film where I actually took off my 3D glasses just to get away from it. When done well, 3D can be amazing (as evidenced by Avatar), but I fear that many directors may be hopping onto a bandwagon that not everyone belongs on, including Tim Burton.

» Mia Wasikowska. I know some reviewers have been raving about her performance, but I fail to see why. I found her dull and unemotional for the majority of the film. Perhaps that was her interpretation of a young Victorian girl, but if so, she missed the mark on the fanciful and adventurous Alice we all know and love. However, this is the first film I’ve seen her in, so I’d like to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that her other acting roles are much better.

» Anne Hathaway. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Anne Hathaway and have seen every single one of her films, but her portrayal of the White Queen was excruciatingly annoying. I cringed every time she came on screen. Perhaps I should blame the screenwriters for giving the White Queen such a grating personality, but unfortunately Hathaway will take most of the heat for this performance. The only thing that made it bearable was the 8-year-old boy behind me who reverently whispered, “She’s so beautiful!” every few minutes. At least he’s got good taste.

Overall Impression

I quite enjoyed this particular movie-going experience, as did the dozens of children in my theater who laughed and gasped at all the right places. Tim Burton has created yet another fantasy land where the audience can lose themselves for a short while and then bemoan coming back to reality. For those who haven’t yet had the opportunity to see it, I recommend skipping the 3D and going back to basics (and saving a few bucks).