Everyone in the film keeps referring to a place called Underland, not Wonderland. I could not agree more that this world Alice has once again fallen into is NO Wonderland for the wonder, adventure and magical spirit one might expect is non-existent. Even Alice (Mia Wasikowska) herself lacks any sort of enchanting sparkle. She is not cold but she is not engaging. Alice is merely a teenage girl, wandering around a world full of unique and unlikely characters who are memorable for only a fleeting second; while teetering character-wise between a forgetful child and grown woman rightfully taking her place as such. As much as we want to love Alice, fear the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter), and delight in the fancy of the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) there is never enough substance to the story to allow such to happen. The stakes are never raised on Alice's journey to be a champion and save Underland from the Red Queen's reign so we sit idly by while lots happens on screen but at the same time nothing substantial happens at all. The Red Queen is more comic relief than someone to be feared. Her "Off With Your Head" does not have enough bite to send shivers up your spine; although the comedy Bonham Carter provides the character is substantial and highly enjoyable. The Mad Hatter is low on the charisma but heavy on the mindless ramblings of just that, a mad hatter. He may be amazing to look at, as his entire look is remarkably twisted and fascinating in its eclectic nature, but that is about as far as it goes for his character. Taking a trip to this Underland, um Wonderland, is one to be enjoyed for a fleeting second, and then forgotten for an eternity.
I am going to say this even though I know it may make no sense to those who love 3D technology. This film should never have been made into a 3D movie. Gasp! The 3D is merely an effect to add dimension and depth - it has no real purpose in the actual plot. There is nothing coming at you in your seat, save for a cup or ball perhaps, and the actual rendering of the 3D images are unimpressive.
The 3D aside, the effects are well done but there is no denying that the majority of the movie was shot on a green screen, only to have everything created via CGI. It has a very computer animated feel, mixed in with live-action characters, that is not disturbing to the eye but it is an aesthetic you have to accept early on in order to enjoy the visuals throughout. The most exciting part, in my humble opinion, is the Cheshire Cat (voiced by Alan Rickman). He is perfectly rendered and every time he appears, disappears, cracks that unforgettable smile, or speaks with his coy, dry sarcasm you must smile. The special camera used to enlarge The Red Queen's head may have made it spectacularly large and in focus but it is nothing compared to the playfulness of the Cheshire Cat.
Colleen Atwood has proven that costuming is key to setting the stage for a fantasy world. With the outlandish and at times freakish appearance of the Mad Hatter or the abundance of spectacular red adorning the Red Queen in her varying period piece dresses the costumes bring a level of awe to the film. Each character is set apart from the other through what they wear and the tiny details of their attire. Even Alice goes through changes in clothing as the film progresses, each one mirroring an important change in her character or plot point in the story. The costumes are visually stunning and add that certain something one needs to fully grasp the idea of a world set apart from reality.
Fantasy, Adventure, Children and Family
March 5, 2010
1 hour 50 minutes