Alice in Wonderland (in 3D) (2010)

“Who is this giant person?!” the Red Queen asks of Alice, naked and hiding behind a bush.

I was asking myself the same thing as the lights came up and the music went down. Previously in the week, my three-year-old and I had partaken in a refresher course of Disney’s 1951 version to refresh characters and story arc. My silly child thought we were watching it for entertainment value.

The story of the original Alice is a story of growing up; that nonsense gets a person nowhere, and that everything Alice supposes in exposition at the beginning of the animated film turns out to be flawed in execution. Her’s is a story, at its simplest, of growing up.

In the latest iteration of ‘Alice’, she’s older and coming out to society. There is a marriage proposal on the table. However, Alice, while older, is still aloof as ever. Those careless enough to not pay attention to the symbolism should take notice of a discussion about white roses, a set of twins, and an aunt. Tim Burton takes the moment to point these out in obvious fashion to those willing to observe.

Once Alice is confronted with the coming marriage proposal, her world begins to unravel. I would venture a guess that Alice has a disassociative disorder as her stress-coping mechanism. A good sign would be the metaphysical manifestation of a white rabbit moments after she learns that she’s going to be asked to be married in front of a large group of her “peers.”

So, like any good mentally-ill person dealing with feelings of anxiety and possible momentary agoraphobia, she bolts. The only way I can get away with a line like that is to understand those feelings with uncomfortable empathy. Panic can make a person do any number of odd behaviors, but Alice’s is reversion into a world she once knew but has since long forgot. She remembers this place only in dreams, and lands with a thud in a world once familiar but since changed and bent by the wills of a big-headed little Red Queen played fantastically by Helena Bonham Carter. My fears, after seeing the poster, was that Johnny Depp was going to channel his inner Michael Jackson again per his horrific Willy Wonka. I was thankfully and appreciatively wrong. He’s crazy in this movie, not stupid.

The movie’s simply OK. It is standard fair Tim Burton, adding his flair and twist to a world that seemed destined to be touched by him. The artistry and direction were excellent; this is definitely an upside-down world for an upside-down girl, and Burton took us there. I can say, however, that nothing will be lost if you avoid this movie in 3D. I found nothing gained to watching it with the glasses on. It is simply too soon to call 3D a fad, but after Avatar, I think studio and producer alike will beat this technology into the ground implementing it where it is simply unnecessary. I felt that with the action, illustration and environment in this movie, more is lost than gained utilizing 3D. Opinions will differ on this.

The Jabberwocky was fantasticly scary, and not in a good way. I was grateful my little girl didn’t have bad dreams, because this isn’t your Care Bears’ Jabberwocky. This is the real deal, and his life and death is graphic and horrible. Before taking small children, or those with active imaginations, I would encourage you to speak with others who have seen this movie.

I’m not personally moved by this movie. It was fun (The Hatter’s Futterwaken is not to be missed!), but it dared to take classical characters and reinvent them. I don’t think it succeeded. There’s even a name change of one particular place that takes so much more artistic license than I’m willing to give them. The movie was good enough. I would have preferred to catch on DVD, sans the glasses and the ticket price. It wasn’t the tender treatment of Alice I was expecting, it wasn’t the farcical nature of the world we know, and character utilization was unusual. New characters were introduced, the lore was changed, and the story was, to me, sub-par. I can’t call the movie “bad” per se, it just felt untrue to the original, be it the book or the animated film, and to me that’s a shame. Merely, it was more just disappointing.

The flowers growing during the credits were neat, though.

B. I liked it. I just wasn’t moved by it. Nothing new of long-standing value added to the Alice lore. With performances by Alan Rickman, Crispin Glover, and Anne Hathaway, it’s worth watching for what it is.

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