Quickie Review: Alice in Wonderland

I’ve got a full blogging plate this week, but I had to take a moment to recommend Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland to you guys!

I have to admit, after reading many tepid reviews, I was beginning to feel pretty uneasy about this version of Lewis Carroll’s beloved Alice. Screenwriter Linda Woolverton created an entirely new story of the 19-year-old Alice’s return to Wonderland, and that’s an extraordinarily ballsy endeavor. Fortunately, the risk paid off.

I was tremendously impressed by Woolverton’s grasp of Carroll’s language and illogic. Together, she and Burton created new rules and characters for this familiarly skewed universe, and they nailed a very difficult tone by incorporating large portions of the “Jabberwocky” mythos into the film. Mia Wasikowska as Alice is a particular revelation. The film could never be a success without her. Adult Alice is a feminist heroine, determined to forge her own path in her daily life as well as in the dream world of Wonderland. Wasikowska is grave and self-possessed, not to mention a total bad-ass.

Helena Bonham Carter as the mammothly craniumed Red Queen is a riot. She’s said in several interviews that her character was inspired by her imperious toddler, a brilliant choice for the character. I loved every moment of her tyrannical, tantrum-rife portrayal.

Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter is precisely what you expect him to be: charmingly quirky and unhinged. No surprises there, but Johnny Depp in a Burton vehicle will always delight.

I adore Crispin Glover and really enjoyed his role as the Red Queen’s Knave of Hearts, Stayne. He is intensely diabolical and diplomatic in turns.

Anne Hathaway as the White Queen is absolutely nuts, fluttering about the screen in a saccharine way that makes her seem fairly touched in the head. She rules.

Five words: ALAN. RICKMAN. AS. THE. CATERPILLER.

But Stephen Fry as the Cheshire Cat is my real favorite! He is smooth, debonair, lazily kitty-like in the most winsome of ways.

The other familiar faces (the Tweedles, White Rabbit, March Hare, etc) are all enchanting, as are many of the new ones. I wish Burton’s Wonderland had more color, but the landscape was still an exuberant joy to behold. Particularly in IMAX 3D!

I was also pleasantly surprised with the length and pacing. Burton films tend towards the impossibly long, and Alice was a trim 108 minutes. The brevity did lend itself to the film’s being a bit rushed at the end, but once Alice leaves Wonderland, do we really want to dwell on the flat, grey world of London? Nope!

Alice in Wonderland isn’t perfect, but I found myself delighted by it, and the lively audience applause at the end proved I wasn’t alone. So shake off your understandable Willy Wonka/Planet of the Apes trepidations and join the feisty Alice for this darker entry into a beloved world!

Review Preview:

Tomorrow! It’s News Day Tuesday!

Wednesday! Cabin Fever 2!

Thursday! Sorority Row!

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6 Responses to “Quickie Review: Alice in Wonderland”

  1. I think Stephen Fry was the perfect call for the Cheshire Cat, but I’m not really sure if I’ll go to see this one. Your review has swayed me a bit though…. I just feel a bit tired of Burton and Depp doing the Burton and Depp thing. Nice review!

  2. I just got home from it and absolutely adored it.
    I mean, I’ve never read the books and tend not to compare movies to books anyways….. but the costuming was my favorite part, yar.
    and the hound dog. :)

  3. I was also pleasantly surprised by the movie. I was feeling very aprehensive beforehand but it actually delivered. Johnny Depp’s performance was a bit tired to me but everytime I started to get annoyed, he left the screen. Stephen Fry was the best part IMO. I really like what he did with the character.

    I think people can get by with renting this one but the world is best absorbed on the big screen.

  4. i’m so relieved! i’ve read a lot of meh reviews as well, and i’m planning on seeing it tomorrow night, so now i feel much more excited!!!

    um HOW DID I MISS THE FACT THAT ALAN RICKMAN’S VOICE IS IN THIS?!!!! OMGGGGG.

    plus i’ll be enjoying the movie with an alamo feast, so i’m preeeeetty sure i’m gonna have a good time.

  5. And the Tweedles were Matt Lucas! Insert catty Sun-inspired comment about how he’s lost a lot of weight since his husband killed himself here.

    John, if it helps, I’m exactly like you, i.e. totally over the Burton/Depp thing. And while johnny depp sort of bugged me in this, overall I really enjoyed it! I think you would too.

  6. Hmmmm…. thanks Erin! After that advice I think I might watch it after all! I do like a lot of the actors.

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