movie review: alice in wonderland

I'm doing something new here, reviewing a movie. But I went and saw Alice in Wonderland yesterday in 3D and thought I'd give this movie reviewing thing a try :)


Alice in Wonderland has been dusted off and made to shine with Tim Burton's 2010 remake of this classic tale. It's whimsical, it's strange, and the color palette is so oversaturated it's blinding in it's brilliance. For a girl who loves pretty pictures, this movie is the ultimate visual experience. I was slightly dazed after the film, and all I could think was "That was a pretty movie." Because while Alice in Wonderland is bursting with stunning effects, it misses the mark with acting and storyline.

Burton's Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is a bit different from the 7-year old Disney cartoon we know so well: she's now a rebellious 19-year old in Victorian times. We know this because she resists wearing her corset and really dislikes rich, but doltish future-fiances with indigestion. Add in an overactive imagination and strange dreams, and Alice doesn't quite fit in with high society. At her engagement party, she's lured away by a white rabbit, falls through a hole in a tree, and finds herself in room chock-full of locked doors.

From there she drinks a shrinking potion and eats an enlarging cake, discards a few layers of clothing in the process, and finally becomes the right size to open the door and finds...


It's completely, absolutely, totally gorgeous. And I will ignore the whole "it-looks-like-a-drug-trip" comment to gush. And gush. Because Burton has rammed up the eye candy and it was just oh-so-wonderful to sit there and gaze onto a canvas of imaginings, fully realized in the form of a 3D film. The costumes were impeccable. The styling of the characters was eye-catching. The lighting, the effects--ahh, everything--was just beautiful. Burton's created a world I want to live in--both his Victorian England and his Wonderland are brimming with fun and in-your-face displays. Literally, if you factor in the 3D.

Alice is told (via a handy-future telling calendar), she's to liberate the down-trodden creatures in Wonderland from the tyrannical Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter). Here, I'm doing this review a disservice since I haven't read the books (I know, I know), and can't vouch for adaption accuracy. However, in this movie the Red Queen's thrall is suspiciously similar to the rule of the White Witch from Narnia. But as far as villains go, the Red Queen is an enjoyable one--and her enormous head gives way to some of the best parts of the movie . It's soon revealed that Alice is to be the champion for the White Queen (the benevolent ruler that the Red Queen overthrew, played by Anne Hathaway), and slay the fearsome and dragon-like jabberwocky. On the way, Alice befriends the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp--who, once again, is as make-up-ified as possible). I can't say that Johnny Depp delivered a satisfactory performance--it was like half-hearted combination of Willa Wonka and Jack Sparrow, with only striking green eyes and fiery red hair to accompany it, and none of the charm. I did like the Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry) quite a lot; he lit up the screen for the sadly short amount of time he was on it.

There were a few funny moments, most of them self-induced: from a distance, the White Queen's (Anne Hathaway) dark near-black lipstick was reminiscent of a mustache (yes, I'm very immature). The Red Queens' antics were also worthy of a few laughs.

All in all, I enjoyed Burton's spin on Alice on Wonderland. It's just so...pretty! If anything, I'd say recommend seeing this movie purely for the visual beauty--it's breathtaking and for the span of two hours, I was completely immersed in a cinematic experience unlike any other. I particularly liked the White Queen's castle--I want to live there, forever (even if the waterfall backdrop looked a tiny bit like LOTR's Rivendell).

Strip away the visual beauty though, and this Alice in Wonderland adaption and execution aren't without imperfections. I found that the future-telling calendar that revealed the climatic scene early on took away from a lot of the film's urgency--and the dramatic battle at the end was rushed and badly done. The resolution wasn't very believable either.

It's really the aesthetically-minded part of me that loves this film.

4/5 stars: go watch it and drool at the prettiness, haha.


Kirsten said...

Ooh... you make me want to see this even though I was in the play in high school and I'm not sure if I can sit through another 2 hrs of that crazy storyline. Great review, though! The graphics do look stunning.

Amie McCracken said...

Sounds like Avatar, amazing to watch but crappy story. What has happened to our writers these days? Sheesh.

Raven M said...

Ooh I really want to go see this. I keep watching all of the trailers and Wonderland looks really gorgeous and...wow. Tim Burton is sort of a genius, and Johnny Depp, I love him in any movie he is in, so I definitely will go see this.

Great review! <3

Malika Horton said...

I really need to see this movie! And it's okay to mention it; acid trips can be pretty...

Sherrie Petersen said...

My family really wants to see this. I'm still on the fence. I feel like I can wait for Netflix :)

Amanda Makepeace said...

I'm looking forward to seeing this!! I've left something for you to pick up on my blog.

The Critic said...

Thanks for this review! I'm really looking forward to seeing this, glad you pointed out all the imperfections.

Kristin Rae said...

I saw this yesterday, too. Loved it! Absolutely gorgeous. Great review. Totally agree about the ending, too.

Anonymous said...

I liked it a lot. It was super pretty, you're right. :)

I'm a Lit-Bitch, Baby said...

Just dropping by to let you know I picked you for this award :)


p.s. I may be seeing this movie tonight and I'm excited.

Anonymous said...

I saw this movie in 3D yesterday as well, and I have to say that you more or less summed up my feelings about this movie: It was visually stunning (which I figured it would be thanks to Tim Burton) but the plot needed some work.

Three things I want to add:
1.) I really wish Burton would have thought of a new title for this, as it's more of a sequel to the Lewis' story rather than a re-imagining of it.

2.) Johnny Depp had too much screen time and why is it that the Hatter is always Alice's companion in versions like this? (ex. Syfy's Alice and The Looking Glass Wars by Frank ?)

3.) It should have been longer, I hope they release an extended version of it like they did with Lord of the Rings and are doing with Harry Potter.

Overall it was definitely my favorite Alice movie.

- Stevie

Liz @ Cleverly Inked said...

I can't wait to see this..I personally dont think it looks like a drug induced sight

pnr-status said...

yesterday i watch movie with my friends absolutely eye catchy to me and my friends.

Jenn (Books At Midnight) said...

Awesome review! I've been DYING to see this one, if only for the visual pretty/awesome/stunning-ness. DEFINITELY have to now, just to drool. You make me want to see the white queen's castle. *o*

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