wonderless in aliceland

"If it ain't vorpal, it ain't dead."

Alice in Wonderland is a sequel to Alice in Wonderland. This clever naming scheme certainly threw me off, since I don’t watch TV and don’t follow movie news much. I was pretty surprised when I woke up to hear a movie review on the morning talk-show about how Alice in Wonderland is really a sequel. Well, I still wanted to see the movie, Johnny Depp being one of the draws, and I think I was probably more interested in seeing the movie after discovering it was actually a sequel, haha.

The basic premise of the movie is that Alice, a fresh 19-year-old girl about to be married off to some pretentious momma’s boy with an indigestion problem, ends up fleeing from the marriage proposal gazebo and “falling down the rabbit hole,” quotes and all. I don’t remember the animated Disney movie or anything beyond the general plot of the original story, so I’m assuming that the plot generally follows the first story, except Alice thinks she’s never been to (W)Underland before but all the residents say that she (or some other Alice) has. Mass kidnappings happen, not unlike the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and Alice is thrust into some sort of prophecy to free the land from the Red Queen, who is all the more intimidating because she is not only Helena Bonham Carter, but she also has a giant head. Apparently the Red Queen somehow became buddy-buddy with the Jabberwocky and set it to burninate the straw cottages, and now she’s the ruler. I think they might actually explain this in the movie as “She studied dominion over the living” or something. Who knows.

So, the whole prophecy is some scroll that shows a picture of a girl with wavy hair smiting the Jabberdragon with a sword of highly concentrated vorpalness. Hey look, Alice has wavy hair too! It must depict her, all everyone seems to think so, even though there’s no writing on the scroll. Hey, it’s a family movie, whatevs. BY THE WAY, for a kiddy movie, there was certainly an excess of graphic eye-stabbing, holy cow. Johnny Depp plays the mad Mad Hatter, and he plays the role pretty well, although it seems quite a few of the scenes in the movie were purely meant to show off his acting and the production’s artistic direction. Crispin Glover plays Stayne, the Knave of Hearts, and wow, I could not place him until well into the second half of the movie. The CG body really threw me off, and the scar + eyepatch didn’t help either. If they wanted the White Queen to be a wispy airhead who was just about as crazy as every other character in Wonderland, then Anne Hathaway did a great job; she didn’t have much of the spotlight in the film, but she played the role spot-on (if that’s what they were going for, which I can’t imagine not being the case). The Bandersnatch was pretty frickin’ sweet too.

Mia Wasikowska played Alice. I don’t recognize the name or the other credits on IMDB/Wikipedia, but she seemed really familiar to me. She started off kind of bland and dull, which may or may not have been the point, but her character definitely grew on me as the movie went on. The one gripe I have is that, for not remembering Wonderland and being exposed to all the wonders, as it were, she really held in her surprise, even though she claims to believe it was all a dream. That’s the main reason I titled this post as I did. I mean, sure, it might be a dream, but if you see something unbelievable, I think the appropriate response would either be “Holy crap!” or “Hey, this seems just like all those dreams I have, which are all the same.” The way she was portrayed, though, was more like “Eh, this ain’t real anyway, not worth the effort to be surprised,” which clashes with the “big reveal” later on, where she’s like “Oh, those dreams were actually memories. How ’bout that.” I did really like the scene where she rides out on the Bandersnatch all armored up, though.

I’m a pretty forgiving person regarding entertainment; if it’s not horrible or unbearable, I will enjoy it. Alice in Wonderland wasn’t a groundbreaking movie in any sense, but it was very interesting and had good music and art direction. Individually, the roles in the movie were very well-acted and such, but I’m not sure if, together, they helped the movie much. It seemed a lot like “Here are a bunch of weird people, go crazy.” A lot of the scenes seemed to go really fast, and, since I felt like I was supposed to be watching from Alice’s vantage point, that really hurt the suspension of belief; again, many scenes felt like they were just taking advantage of the art direction, throwing a bunch of weird characters on the screen and saying “Go be weird. We’ll film you for a bit. Next scene!” However, this was a fun, entertaining movie, and I would definitely recommend it to be seen in theaters.

PS: I hear the “3D experience” was tacked on post-production, so it’s pretty bad (especially with Helena Bonham Bighead). Pay extra at your own risk!

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