I have never read the original Lewis Carroll Alice's Adventures in Wonderland or Through the Looking-Glass and all of my knowledge regarding the tale of Alice as she goes down the rabbit hole comes from the Disney animated movie and the caterpillar ride at Disneyland. I thought this would suffice for a midnight screening of the new Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, but alas…I felt a little left in the dark. Too many references to names an places I never really new distracted me from a better experience. Everyone will have a good time, don’t get me wrong. Tim Burton has always been a master at macabre wit and fantastic set design, but here, you’ll just have to settle for the set design.
Of course this movie will be wildly popular and everyone will go see it. My midnight screening was packed. Mainly by high schoolers whom use the excuse of a midnight screening in Utah to show their rebellious side. It was weird sitting in that meat-market setting with everyone talking to everyone else, yelling at the previews, making jokes etc. But when the movie got into full swing, a hush fell over the audience as they allowed themselves to be sucked into the fantastically twisted world that Alice believes she had dreamed up for herself.
Alice, played by Mia Wasikowska holds her own as the title character but suffers the same fate as poor Anne Hathaway as the White Queen. The really have not much to do. Alice does scowl a lot and focus really intently on getting her accent right and the Queen seems to have had her arms frozen up in the air and always talks to nobody in particular like a bad version of Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter films. Its easy to see who are Tim Burtons favorite characters in this tale and that would be the Mad Hatter played by Johnny Depp and the Red Queen played by Helena Bonham Carter. Both relish their parts and give all out nutty performances. You really could have a lot of fun with the two except the film never allows them to grow as characters. There is so much going on with this film; you never really feel the camaraderie of any of the characters.
That hardly matters though when you’ve got a world like Wonderland. Keep in mind this is not Pandora (nerdy Avatar reference), but it is indeed a dark and dreary place that is fits the story, but not the fun that should be Alice. It’s a lot of fun to watch things emerge in 3D and the depth and color off all the weirdness going on up on the screen. However, it’s as if little 3D gimmicks were thrown in just for the kids. Kids? I know this has a PG rating but ripping out eyeballs and moats filled with floating severed heads hardly qualify as children’s entertainment (unless you have an equally morbid son like mine). And herein lies the main problem with the film. It can’t decide if it’s a kid’s film or an adult. There is no middle ground here. The over explanation, awkward dancing, silly music score and funny characters all point to a film geared towards kids 8 and under. But the dark story, visceral visuals, twisted humor and star power all seem to model and Adult film. In general, this is a very beautiful, awkward, disjointed movie.
So, I’m really torn with this movie. The Visuals alone are worth the price of admission to the theater (especially in 3D), but the content makes me want to recommend renting it. I’ll let you decide, but if patched up endings, horrible editing and befuddled story lines bother you, I would stay away. If you love incredible imaginations, gruesome creatures and weird not-really-makes-sense randomness, then you’ll like the film. Your call.
See it now!!!!
See it in theaters!!!
Rent it on DVD/BluRay!!
Wait for it on TV!