I enjoyed it, a lot. I’d read some reviews that really slagged it, and so went in with no expectations and wanting solely to see the pretty. What I got was a fairly standard re-telling of the hero’s journey, with a female hero, lots pretty, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter chewing scenery like mad, and quite good acting from everyone else in the cast, oh, and of course, the pretty. One of the reviews had been very dismissive of the woman who played Alice, but I thought she did quite well at the part.
I would not recommend spending the extra to see it in 3D. Honestly, once my eyes adjusted to it, and quit trying to look anywhere other than where the film wanted me to, it kind of disappeared. But there were so many, many things I wanted to look at in the backgrounds, and 3D foiled me. Tammy and I are thinking of proposing to the Headmistress of Gothic Charm School that we go see it at the alcohol serving theatre here in town. For some reason, this film screams “watermelon martinis” to me, or some other candy-like adult beverage. In 2D so we can ooo and ahhh over all the neat backgroundy stuff.
I’ll be truthful, Burton had me when the Rocking Horseflies showed up once Alice gets to Wonderland. It’s pretty, well-paced, the acting is solid, if not spectacular. The backgrounds are amazing. Johnny Depp is his scene-stealing best. Mia Wasikowska acquits herself admirably, the CGI is mostly nice. I enjoyed Anne Hathaway as the White Queen and the contrast of the pretty, fluffy, helpless one being a necromancer of sorts. The creatures were wonderful, particularly the Cheshire Cat and the March Hare. And Crispin Glover has finally grown into his face. Seriously, I didn’t recognize him until the Headmistress pointed out that it was him.
Ok, that was the good stuff. The bad: What the hell was up with stretching the Knave of Hearts? It didn’t do anything to accentuate the character, or make him more creepy, it just looked poorly animated most of the time. I mean, when Alice is substantially larger than him or the Queen and the other courtiers, it didn’t come off near so badly. Was the stretching of the Knave an afterthought? Maybe being rushed explains why it looks so clumsy. Also, the little dance Johnny Depp does at the end… The hell? No, really. The hell? Trust me, when you see it, you’ll be asking yourself the same question.
All that said, don’t expect loyalty to the source material. And Burton never claimed that. He spoke very forthrightly about this being a re-imagining, an actual re-imagining, instead of a faithful reproduction of other Alice movies or even the stories. He plays pretty fast and loose with some of it. But overall the effect is good, enjoyable and entertaining. Fortunately for me, I quit expecting faithful recreations after Francis Ford Coppola’s very pretty “Dracula” abortion in the 1990s.*
Though I really, really would have liked to see Miranda Richardson as the Red Queen, I think she would have been brilliant, but Helena Bonham Carter did a very good job.
Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to go re-read the Alice books. It’s been years since I actually sat down and read them at my grandparents house when I was a kid. Fortunately, I have a lovely, leatherbound volume of Carroll’s complete works. This does mean sitting and reading at home, and not on the bus or at the gym, alas.
*About which I am still pissed off. If you want to tell it your way, fine. Call it Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula, do not call it Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Because it wasn’t at all. There is no reincarnation in Dracula, nor werewolves… Augh!!!!