Sunday, March 7, 2010

"Alice in Wonderland" Movie Review

Question of the Day: What is the worst movie date you have ever been on? It could've been with a blind date, a significant other, or even a best friend.

Today I went on a movie date with my lovely sister to go watch "Alice in Wonderland," a film that was released on March 5, 2010. It is directed by Tim Burton, presented by Disney, and includes two classic, famous actors: Anne Hathaway and Johnny Depp. It is based on the book, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Caroll.

When it comes to movie reviews, I split the movie into nine different sections that I rate from 1-5 (in stars). I start off with the basics and then move on to the more complex areas of movie production. Then, in the tenth section, I rate the overall quality of the movie based on the ratings of the other sections. Feel free to comment on my opinion and agree/disagree! Enjoy!

Alice in Wonderland: Movie Review

Short Summary: "Alice in Wonderland," based on the book by Lewis Caroll, is about a 19-year-old carefree girl named Alice. She lives in London, has a wild imagination, and is stressed and pressured to be someone who everybody else wants her to be. Alice ends up falling in a hole that leads to Wonderland, a strange world in which everything is upside down. Before she knows it, Alice is forced to go on a crazy adventure with The Mad Hatter, The White Rabbit, and other unforgettable characters to save Wonderland from the evil Red Queen.

Story: To me, the Story of a movie is mainly based on the world that the movie is set up in (for example: "Harry Potter" set in the Wizarding World, "Pearl Harbor" set in WWII era, etc.). Obviously, "Alice in Wonderland" is set in Wonderland, a world completely created by Lewis Caroll (who I believe is a genius). I really love his Wonderland story and think that it is extremely creative, extraordinary, and--ironically--real. You can't help but love Wonderland, that crazy home of Opposites. Land of the Upside Down. As wild as Wonderland may seem, it really makes one think about the real world in which we live in and why it is the way it is. Rating: 5/5

Plot: It is easy to get the Story and the Plot mixed up. I personally think of the Plot as the main problem and the events in an adventure that leads up to that problem's resolution. The plot takes place within the Story and is carried out by the Characters. In "Alice in Wonderland," the plot of the movie deals with Alice and her friends having to fight against the nefarious Red Queen in order to save Wonderland from her evil doings and restore all power to The White Queen. The events that lead up to the climax of this plot were exciting and connected well with each other. The movie makers did a good job introducing the characters while developing the main plot.

The beginning and ending of the movie were my least favorite events; besides Wonderland's War of the Queens (I made that title up), Alice is the main character and, as in all good movies, undergoes change for the better. However, some parts of the beginning and ending were slightly awkward...the choices and changes Alice made to her real life did not quite fit in with the rest of the story and was not carried out as well as it could have been. See more under Direction/Production. Rating: 4/5

Characterization: From the moment the characters were introduced one by one, I knew who they were and what they were like. The costumes, the little quirks, and the personalities were all very distinct and unique to each character. The acting was definitely a significant factor in characterization. Some of the distinct traits of individual characters that defined them and that I was truly impressed by include:
  • the exaggerated grace of The White Queen
  • the crooked smile of Hamish
  • the slightly bizarre cross-eyes, nonsensical mutters, and eccentricity of The Mad Hatter
  • the bossy, almost childish tone of voice of The Red Queen
  • the constant stuttering and nervosa of The March Hare (The Mad Hatter's tea party friend)

My favorite was definitely The Mad Hatter, played by Johnny Depp. Disney did a great job keeping the classic traits of each character intact as they are in Caroll's "Alice" (the wackiness of the Hatter, the brattiness of the Red Queen, the looniness of the ever-arguing Twiddle twins) while adding additional characteristics that freshen them up and make the audience have a certain attitude towards them. Even though The Mad Hatter's head was clearly full of nuts, his loyalty and confidence in Alice instantly made him one of the most well-liked characters in the movie. Rating: 5/5




Costumes: This is also a big factor when it came to characterization. One thing I found particularly interesting were the many dresses that Alice wore in the movie; for almost every different size or situation she was in (except for the one major fight scene when she had on an armoured suit), she wore a different colored dress; all of the dresses were similarly designed, however, which I thought was pretty neat. Unlike Alice's gown in the old Disney classic version of "Alice in Wonderland," in which she wears a modest blue pinafore and a white apron, Alice is adorned with lacy one-color gowns that reveal quite a lot at the top. I'm a huge fan of her outfits, to be honest; I think they are extremely creative and fashionable yet wild enough for Wonderland.

I am not crazy about The Mad Hatter's ridiculously clown-like hair, but his famous hat is quite stunning with its many pins and feathers and single pink sash. The two queens also wear some nifty gowns; both are dominated by the colors that they are famous for (Red and White), and although they are enemies and pretty much opposite ends of one spectrum, both dresses are equally fit of royalty. I think The Red Queen's heart-shaped crown of hair is very interesting, and goes well with her personality and character. Rating: 5/5

Acting: All the actors were very much in character during the whole movie (see more under Characterization and the bulleted list I provide)...especially Johnny Depp, who played the famous Mad Hatter; he always seems to play the quirkiest characters. XD Sadly enough, the one actor that I was not altogether pleased with was Mia Wasikowska, who plays Alice. She slightly reminded me of a better Kristen Stewart, who plays Bella Swan in Twilight. Mia expressed limited emotion and her reactions to Wonderland are not realistic enough (for instance, she did not seem terrified enough of the Jabberwocky). In some scenes, she seems to be only talking...there is not much actual acting going on. And acting for her was key to the movie, especially since Alice is the main character and the entire story, plot, and movie as a whole is about her. Like Kristen Stewart is for Bella, I think Mia's look is perfect for Alice, but her acting could have been much better. It is truly a sad thing that all of Alice's supporting characters performed better than herself. Rating: 4.5/5

Script: I think that a rich, intelligent script is vital for a successfully made movie. Quite frankly, "Alice in Wonderland"'s script was really not that special to me at all. However, there were a few quotes that stand out to me as being worthy of remembrance. Most of them stick out because of their humor.
"You were much more 'muchier.' You've lost your muchness." -The Mad Hatter

"Have you any idea why a raven is like a writing desk?" -TMH
"No. Why is it?" -Alice
"Absolutely nothing." -TMH
"Have I gone mad?" -TMH
"I am afraid so. You're entirely bonkers....but I'll tell you a secret. All the best people are." -Alice

"Hehe. I love my fat boys!" -The Red Queen

"I need a pig here! I love a warm pig belly for my aching feet." -The Red Queen

Much of the humor used in this story was, like everything else, rather odd and eccentric. It fit with the movie but the script overall was not particularly excellent or innovative. Rating: 3.5/5

Action/Drama: There is one particular scene that I'd like to focus on under this category. I must admit, I was worried of being disappointed by the inevitable fight between Alice and the Red Queen's Jabberwocky, which was really the main action scene and climax of the movie. After all, Alice did not look like much of a fighter, and somehow watching this incredible fantasy film reminded me of one of the few poorly-made Smallville episodes in which the the SUPPOSEDLY incredible, nail-biting, watch-behind-your-pillow duel between Superman and Zod's son lasted less than thirty seconds and was no more than a few fist punches and a huge explosion that actually kills Zod's son, who is supposed to be the most powerful and strongest creature on Earth besides Superman. Pretty anticlamactic. Flashing back to "Alice in Wonderland," I braced myself for a similarly disheartening climax...BUT to no avail. :) The action between Alice and the Jabberwocky was actually quite brilliant and as realistic as fantasy can get; both took some pretty intense swipes at each other (Alice with her special sword and the Jabberwocky with his intimidating fangs and things) and the defeat came in at just the right time.

In regards to the rest of the movie, the drama/action was okay. The beginning was slightly boring and almost redundant, as it almost felt like a timeline with character after character being introduced to Alice during her adventures in Wonderland. The plot and climax did not come near until the middle when the audience and Alice meets The Mad Hatter and the story of Wonderland's fall under the Red Queen's grasp unfolds. However, there were definitely some intense moments when I was most certainly sitting at the edge of my seat, such as the scenario in which the Red Queen's troops cime dangerously close to finding Alice. The music was well-chosen and dramatic enough so that I almost always anticipated whatever would come next for Alice. Rating: 4/5

Digital Design/Animation: Technology amazes me every year, and I definitely think it is taking over our lives. From iPhones to Wiis to Blu-Ray and 3-D movies, today's genius scientists are finding more and more ways to upgrade the level and rate at which the technological industry for entertainment is increasing. "Alice in Wonderland" is no exception. This area was definitely the most impressive to me...I remember in the past when digital stunts and monsters looked so obviously computerized and fake to the point that they were laughable. But in "Alice," everything about Wonderland looked so impossibly real that there were times when I literally felt like Wonderland was a real place.

What really astounded me was how Disney (and whatever company they used) was able to create a computerized world with characters (such as a deck of iron cards who were also the Red Queen's army of troops and Twiddledum/dee) that are part digital and part real. Sort of like how the Lord of the Rings creators made Gollum, except Alice's characters are even better. Here are just a few of the stunning visuals within "Alice in Wonderland":

Twiddledum and Twiddledum was played one person...Disney must have taken his main features and merged them with a "Twiddle" body. The Blue Caterpillar and the Wallflowers were pretty spiffy! When I first heard the Blue Caterpillar speak, I instantly knew it was Severus Snape from Harry Potter. :D They couldn't have chosen a better speaker for the caterpillar, and I was astounded by how nicely and ironically realistic he looked with his long pipe and six bajillion feet (hehe). And the Wallflowers were so accurately created and the way they interacted with Alice...you would've thought they were real. What I think was REALLY awesome was how easily Alice seemed to grow, bigger and smaller, as if she really were having a ten-second growth spurt/shrink. I could go on and on and on, but I won't. I think you get the message. :) Rating: 5/5

Direction/Production: Overall, the direction and production of this film was carried out pretty well. At times, I did feel slightly bored at the beginning of Alice's adventure in Wonderland, as it just seemed like an introduction of character after character; there was no true excitement until the plot began to unravel. However, I do not think Disney could have done anything to change that and make it better; I also think that may be a personal preference. Perhaps it is only me that feels that way. Anyhow, the relationships between the different characters was well-thought-out and the chronology of Alice's adventures were organized and made sense. The only area that I felt had some random parts was the ending. I do not want to give too much away, so I will just say that some parts did not seem to add up with Alice's personality and talents (her career choice made it seem like she was into industry and politics, which was a bit spontaneous to me); if they had tied in the decisions she made at the ending by adding something about what she enjoys doing in her spare time (besides daydreaming) in the beginning. Rating: 4/5

Overall Quality: This film was made extremely well and would hoodwink your eyes to watch it. We grow up into thinking that all and any arenas of fantasy are not real. That they only exist in our imaginations. "Alice in Wonderland" is one of few movies that is talented enough to fool us into believing the that impossible is possible. It asks all the questions that are not meant to be wondered about...it shows a world in which everything is upside down and opposite from what should be. However absurd that may be to some, the absurdity is what makes us think about why things are the way they are. This particular version of "Alice" includes an additional moral that applies to everyone: Don't be afraid to speak out, and don't be afraid to do what you want to do in life. This message is loud and clear towards the end when Alice finally realizes that she must return to the world of reality and apply what she has gained from Wonderland in order to live her real life to the fullest.

"Alice in Wonderland" may not be a completely fantastical thriller that provides you with a life-changing epiphany. Even so, it is a film that everyone can identify with and will certainly entertain you from the moment it begins to the second it ends. You will fall in love with the characters and, in some odd, nonsensical way, with Wonderland as well. It gives you a green light that says: dare to wonder. Rating: 4/5



~TRA

P.S. It took days to complete this blog post and I am so glad I finally completed it! I apologize for the intense verbosity...I tend to be very wordy when I am extremely passionate about something but am unsure about how to convey how I feel about it. Hopefully I will never have a post as long and extensive as this one!


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4 comments:

Jordan-Marie said...

The worst movie date that i've been on was with my exboyfriend. we we're watching Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. It was awkward, especially in the end, haha.

The Red Angel said...

Haha wow, what happened that made it so awk? D: Hey, did you enjoy the actual movie at least? :P

Oh to be a Muse said...

this is the longest movie review i've ever read i think. but it was worth it. thanks for this. i think we kinda feel the same about this movie...i would have given it around 3.8 or 4 as well.

cherylclarke.blogspot.com

The Red Angel said...

Thank you, Cheryl. :] Haha that's funny, because my original overal rating had been a 3.8/5! I went back and reevaluated and chnaged a couple ratings, and it averaged out to be 4 instead. :)

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