Thursday, April 1, 2010

Alice reimagined

Ah, Alice in Wonderland, how you've grown.  One thing is for certain, this is not the Disney cartoon.

I saw this movie at an IMAX theater and in 3d.  So let me start by addressing the technical parts of 3d and the moster screen.  The visual imagry was very, very sharp.  It was quite impressive, actually.  The colors were crisp and vivid and the 3d was well used to provide depth to the picture.  But I have one small complaint.  It seems that directors feel it is a requirement to shove things at the screen when they have a 3d camera.  The sudden objects flying "right at you" without being part of the story - I really dislike that.  And there were a couple of times that Alice did this, and it's a shame they interrupted an otherwise enjoyable 3d experience..  It was the only part of the movie that felt forced in 3d.

Reviewing the movie starts and ends with Tim Burton.  His unique visual style is very much at the forefront of this movie.  From the Red Queen's (Helena Bonham Carter) oversized head, to the Mad Hatter's (Johnny Depp) outfit, makeup and changing eyes, to the White Queen's (Anne Hathaway) odd behavior and dark makeup - this movie carries Tim Burton's stamp of strangeness through and through.  Now, this isn't necessarily a bad thing.  I am not necessarily a fan of that look/feel, but I honestly felt it worked in this movie.  The settings vary from bright (the garden in the real world, the White Queen's castle) to dark (Red Queen's castle and the chessboard) and uses color and light very effectively to convey mood.  Color is also used with the Mad Hatter - his eyes change color as his mood swings.

The acting is the movie was superb.  Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter put in their usual great character work.  Anne Hathaway puts a very interesting spin on the White Queen - it bothered me, but it was well acted.  My favorite, however, was relative newcomer Mia Wasikowska in the titular role.  I was very impressed with her.  She carried a screen presence that really worked for me.

Overall, this movie is one I would (and have!) recommend to anybody.  I saw it with a group of friends on a Saturday, and liked it enough to take my four children the next Monday.  My youngest is almost 6, and she loved the movie.  There were certainly parts that were scary (the Jabberwocky, comes to mind) for her, but she enjoyed it anyway.  My almost-13 year old daughter said it was one of her favorite movies of all time.  And it certainly was one of my favorite Tim Burton movies.