Saturday, July 17, 2010

'alice' a pleasant sequel to carroll's novels

*Warning:  Here be spoilers for Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland.  Proceed at your own risk*

My younger sister and I got my father a subscription to Netflix for Father's Day.  When I helped him activate it, he chose a bunch of old 50s-era TV series, a few classic black and white films circa 1960, a few Quentin Taratino films, and The Exorcist.  My mom complained and forced him to put Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (2010) high up on his queue. 

When it finally came in the mail, I sat down with her to see what Tim Burton had in store, expecting to hate it.  I was surprised by what I saw.

Unliek what I had previously surmised, the movie was not all about the Mad Hatter.  Alice was the integral part of the movie, and even though the Mad Hatter influenced some of Alice's actions, for the most part his character did not run the show.  Alice was still the main character and the single most important one for the progress of events.

The colors and imagery were beautiful, even if the scenes seemed wat too computer-generated to be convincingly real.  But the characters were all designed extremely well. I especially liked the Mad Hatter's make-up.  Alice's many costume changes were so refreshing.  My favorite dress was the one she wore as "Um" in the Red Queen's court:

image source: Style By Joanne
image source: Style By Joanne
Mia Wasikowska certainly played a convincing Alice with the curiosity of a child and the sense of a smart and strong-willed individual.  While she is in the "normal" world she knows she is abnormal by their standards, but accepts herself for who she is anyway, even if no one else will.  She is not bothered by her curiosity, by being blatantly honest, or by expressing what she wants.  That certainly never changes while she is in Wonderland.

This movie also did not waste a huge amount of time on a backstory or unnecessary scenes or actions.  The movie was under two hours, so it got straight to the point and never looked back.  While that may have been a disadvantage to those unfamiliar with Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass: and what Alice found there, it certainly was nice to not have to sit through some long, complicated explanation of why Alice was in Wonderland after so many years, for example.  And it was nice that Alice wasn't wandering around questioning everything she saw or being afraid to do anything.  She fit into her Wonderland perfectly, which seemed more like home for her than the stuffy Victorian party she had been to shortly before falling down the rabbit hole.

Overall, it was a nice, concise, refreshing retelling of Alice's experiences in Wonderland.  It wasn't the best movie I've seen, but it was a good effort that did not alienate fans of Lewis Carroll's original stories and had enough kookiness (such as the floating heads in the moat) to make its mark as a Tim Burton film.

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