Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Alice - the review

Warning - Spoilers Below

I like Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass...a lot. I read the books...the Lewis Carroll books, not the Disney adapted books, in fifth or sixth grade. I loved the books. Even though I have read them once...they still seem pretty clear in my mind (although it is quite possible that I am not remembering correctly...and you should keep that in mind). I am not sure why I haven't re-read them...mostly, I think, because I don't own them, so they aren't handy when I am needing something to read. I really should find a nice set to have for my bookshelves....I know Easton Press has a nice Alice, but I don't think they have Looking Glass. Sadness.

So as you read this review please note that 1) it is a pretty good movie and I think you should see it 2) that I have been probably a little too fanatical about Alice at times and so am completely biased.

My heart was embiggened when I first heard about the new Alice in Wonderland movie by Tim Burton. Who doesn't like Tim Burton? He is capable of amazing things and has a unique style that is wonderful. Alice & Tim seemed perfect for each other. The poster below had me really excited - all the Alice imagery with Tim Burton's skew...just the trademarked Burton curl on the tree/vine made me elated with the possibilities. I think it turned out well...just not what I really wanted to see.

  • Liked - you are not getting the traditional Alice story. Alice is older and doesn't remember her childhood trip to Wonderland. Although I love the original stories, I think this is an interesting way to handle it (Sci-Fi channel did a similar thing in a mini-series a few months ago...pretty sure they were just trying to capitalize on the coming movie promotion but still it was interesting. PS Sci-fi...I still hate SYFY). Plus it allowed them to draw upon material from both books. I liked that they had more of a narrative running throughout the movie than the books had.
  • Disliked - story inconsistencies with the books. The Red Queen and the Queen of Hearts are two totally different characters. The Queen of Hearts deals with playing cards. The Red Queen deals with chess. It was the Queen of Hearts that always yells "Off with their head!" I know Disney combined them too in the 50s...and that annoyed me too.I remember a lot more wit, logic puzzles, word play, puns, riddles, philosophy, etc... in the books. It is actually what I remember the best and what drew me to the books in the first place - this was mostly absent in the movie. They did keep the Raven and the Writing Desk bit...but I think it just confused most people (which was maybe the point). I was really expecting them to bring Alice's dad who vanished many years earlier back into the story (like somehow he got lost in Wonderland) to tie up that loose end but that never happened.


  • Liked - The movie looked really good. The integration of the actors with the computer generated images was pretty seamless. The characters and scenery were all interesting designed and detailed. I am sure I missed many of the details and would like to see it again just to watch the background. I liked how the "real" world was barely in 3D and Wonderland had much more muchness.
  • Disliked - Wonderland was really dark and kind of dreary. I think they wanted to show how much it had deteriorated since the last time Alice had been there. Although I understand this choice, I wanted to see much more of the pristine Wonderland with bright bold colors and everything exotic and pretty. I wanted the colors to pop like they did in Pushing Daisies. I figured at least at the end they would show Wonderland morphing back into it's vivid self...but nope. The 3D was decent but not spectacular...even though I hate when movies throw in scenes just for 3D effect, to me it seemed like Alice had scenes that would have benefited from more 3D effect.


  • Liked - I thought all actors did a great job. Everyone had a really good performance. The Red Queen, the Tweedles, and Cat were great. Everyone else was really good. For one reason or another I found Alice really alluring in her armor (I must really be a dork).
  • Disliked - The characters weren't as likable as I would have preferred. Again I think this is because they were down trodden from the Red Queen's tyranny but I was expecting more. I like a fun, happy, playful Mad Hatter...not just one that is simply crazy. And that goes for all characters.

The "XD" Experience - Jordan Creek Theater recently upgraded one of their main theaters to XD (When I say recent - this is the first movie to be shown in the upgraded theater, and so was only a week old). If you aren't familiar XD is a better sound system, bigger screen, comfier seats, etc... PS - XD stands for "eXtreme Digital" or something like that = gay.

  • Liked - The bigger screen was nice, the sound was great, the seats were comfy and leather (I'm assuming fake) and reclined quite a bit more than regular seats.
  • Disliked - The screen was bigger than your normal multiplex screen (wall to wall and taller) but it was no where near an Imax screen as far a filling your vision, it's not even as big as Merle Hay Theater's screen...so big but not huge. Seats were really comfy but if there was someone in front of you and they lean back it really limits your leg room. I was unable to cross my legs and if someone were to try to walk past it would have been pretty crowded. XD fee is an additional $2 on top of regular ticket price (and $3 glasses fee if in 3D), so Alice in 3D cost $14 a person (and there is no matinee discount!).


I think it is a good movie and worth seeing. It just didn't meet the high hopes that I had set for it. That being said, I would like to see it again but this time I will probably opt for 2D since 3D was a little underwhelming.


Lax Guy said...

"Where are my fatboys?!"
Killer line. Been saying it since last Saturday night (when I went). The Tweedles owned the movie and Helena Bonham Carter stole the show with her performance as the Red Queen. Combining the two queens troubled me too, but simplified things for the general audience I suppose.
Depp's performance was off. Felt like he was phoning it in most of the time.

kelly said...

Haven't seen it but the whole thing just reeks of American McGee's Alice ripoff to me. Same basic concept, Alice in darker version of Wonderland later in life. I hope they do make a second game like they announced last year. I loved the first one.

Michael said...

Agreed - Red Queen and Tweedles were AWESOME and worth the price of admission.

Reminded me of American McGee too...even though I only ever watched you play it.

*Lesli* said...

booo.....avid lover of Alice, but left the movie somewhat "underthrilled". I do like Helena's character. Her head is ginormous..AND those tweedles are hella scury. I think I was hoping for something a little more creepy and dark. There's my two cents..not like you asked.

Michael said...

I don't know what I was hoping for...I like creepy and dark in a lot of things but with Alice, I expect more surreal and twisted...but yet bright and colorful and fantastic. That's how it was in my imagination as a kid. The movie ended up being a bland mix of dark & colorful that didn't really accomplish either.

I almost liked the Sci-Fi channel's mini series more...at least that seemed like they made some interesting interpretations.