I’m one of those people who plans their movie going experience right when they hear about the movie. Alice in Wonderland showed up on the upcoming movie lists about a year ago, so I have followed it since then. When the release date was announced, my husband and I marked our calender for a week after so that we would not hit the heavy first week traffic. It also gave us a chance to hear from people who had already seen it. The buzz was disappointing. All of our friends were not thrilled with the result of the film, even though it was directed by one of our favorites, Tim Burton. How could a mixture of Johnny Depp and Tim Burton be disappointing?!? We made our way out to the theater (a whooping 1/2 mile walk) for the last showing on a Sunday so that we could have the theater pretty much to ourselves while we watched the long-awaited film.
The film takes Alice back to wonderland roughly ten years after her first journey through it. This should tell everyone that it is not like the original book. In fact, the only part of the book that stays true are the characters. Alice meets all of her old friends from the original journey. She runs into Tweedledee and Tweedledum, Hatter (obviously, Johnny Depp, swoon), the blue caterpillar, the white rabbit, and the Cheshire cat. This time instead of just visiting, she has come to fulfill her destiny and save wonderland from the red queen. The problem is, Alice believes everything is a dream. This causes conflicts and hesitations within Alice as she goes through her journey during her second time in Wonderland.
I’m afraid that I didn’t care for the movie. I was trying very hard to like it, but it just did not call to me. It is beautiful. I can not say that enough. The setting and costumes are stunning. It has been a long time since I have seen a movie that is more aesthetically pleasing. If you see it in 3D, it is evening more amazing. I just wasn’t pulled in by the story or the characters. Alice frustrated me. I don’t believe that she was played well. I thought that the actress was going between innocence, ignorance, and strength. It just did not mesh well and did not bring the character to life. Johnny Depp, who I would not normally say a bad word about, also did not pull out a stunning performance. I’d love to say it was because of the script, but his character seemed more depressed than actually mad. While I don’t believe his acting was star quality in this movie, he is excellent to look at (not just because he is handsome, his costuming is amazing!) I burst out laughing almost each time the White Queen was on-screen. The White Queen, played by Anne Hathaway, must have been constructed as a joke. She flutters through everything. I’m sure that Hathaway was supposed to overplay it slightly (meaning to make her movements more fairy-like?), but even during serious moments in the movie, it’s just ridiculous. My husband actually slapped my leg because I did the sputtering poof of air out of my lips during a particular scene in which the White Queen flutters away in a distracted manner after proclaiming a very grim statement to Alice. How am I supposed to take any of it seriously? If Burton’s direction was in that manner and he was attempting to make the audience react with conflicting emotions, then he definitely got that within me.
If I was specifically to compare this to an Alice in Wonderland book, I would say that it resembles the The Looking Glass Wars series more than the original Lewis Carroll books. In the The Looking Glass Wars, Alice is more of a warrior than in the original series. This is the role that she plays in the movie. Also, in Seeing Redd (the second book in the series), Alice is an older teenager. Hatter plays more of a bodyguard within the movie, which parallels the Looking Glass War‘s Hatter Madigan who is the bodyguard to the royal family (which Alice is a part of). While I was watching the movie, the Alice that I was picturing was much closer to Beddor’s Alice than Carroll’s. This was probably not the intention, but that is how the character came across to me, just much less developed.
All in all, I’d give the movie a 2.5/5 stars. It attempted to use a well-known storyline and further its development. The movie itself was artistically amazing. The movie has an all-star cast with people who children and adults love from previous films. Tim Burton rarely puts out a product that is not interesting, even if the movie is not a box office hit. However, the characters and the plot line fall flat and doesn’t make me feel like I should tell my friends to feel it. Honestly, I was greatly disappointed when I left the theater. My husband and I did not even talk about the movie until the day after.
Jennifer Miller is a devoted English teacher of both eighth graders and college students. As an teacher who cares deeply about her student’s love of books, sharing her opinions about books has become a passion, so she recently started blogging publicly about what she reads at Kaydence’s Book Blog.
Your assessment matches up with others that I’ve heard. When we saw previews for it, my husband was immediately excited, but I was actually a bit turned off by the effects and images that were actually just too overwhelming to me! So, if he wants to see it, he’s on his own. 🙂
Jennifer (5 Minutes for Books) says
It does sound beautiful, but if the plot isn’t believable, it’s not much of a movie.
Thanks for contributing!
Carrie, Reading to Know says
I’ve been SO curious about this movie. I had the same reaction as you did upon hearing about it – excited anticipation. Then the movie previews came out and I wasn’t quite as thrilled. The reviews haven’t remotivated me to actually schedule a date night around it.
I LOVED the Looking Glass Wars though (Seeing Redd – not so much!) and it’s helpful to have that comparison. I’d probably like to see this movie – when it comes out on video. But I’m in no particular rush.
Thanks for your thoughts!