In Tim Burton's hands, Alice in Wonderland was an amazing spectacle. There was a big headed queen, playing card soldiers, a smoky Cheshire cat and a Mad Hatter with eyes so round and fluorescent, you can't help but be mesmerized. In 3D, it was even more impressive and it's no wonder that it opened at the top of the box office. Have some razzle dazzle and a good trailer and the odds are you're gonna make some money.
But as much as Alice in Wonderland was pretty to look at, it fell apart in almost all other aspects. Alice herself looked bored as she explored this fantastic new world and although there was a hint of character development (she built up the courage to slay the beast at the end!), it was awkwardly handled. She was obviously a free spirit at the beginning of the movie and at the end so what did she learn through her adventures? The Mad Hatter also needed some fine tuning; good ol' Johnny Depp made his Hatter creepy and weird just like he made Willy Wonka creepy and weird. Every time I see him in these movies, I think he should be arrested for pedophilia.
The plot was as straightforward as they come but even that was bungled. It was predicted that Alice was going to slay the Jabberwocky almost as soon as she entered Wonderland which destroyed any sense of suspense that we might have felt. In fact, it was even shown how she would slay the Jabberwocky so by the time she did it, we felt as if we had seen it all before which of course we had. I was also not sure why the screenwriter decided to make this the second visit to Wonderland for Alice. It didn't add anything to the plot because Alice didn't remember the first time anyway.
And I suppose for a movie that is marketed to children, it was unneccessarily dark. Being a Tim Burton film, I would expect this (does the guy wear anything except black?) but he really should have stayed closer to the original feel of the book. Yes, I know the queen's signature expression is "Off with his head" but it became very repetitive in the movie and even I cringed when a cute little froggie was dragged away for a beheading. And Alice did her own beheading too. The Jabberwocky gets it and just like some bad horror movie, the head bounced down a set of stairs. Nice touch. When did Wonderland become such a nightmare?
I guess there are worse ways to spend a Saturday night. I saw the movie at the legendary El Capitan theater in the VIP seats (at a cost of $25 which included a drink and popcorn) so that was an experience by itself. I wasn't bored because there was always something cool to look at even if that something was a a floating top hat that looked so real, I was tempted to reach out and touch it.
Unfortunately, my evening ended on a sour note. As I was getting on the 101 in a very busy area of Hollywood, I was side-swiped by another car. After I tracked down the driver, he admitted that it was his fault and agreed to pay for the damanges. After spending $2000 on my car in the last month, I have no desire to spend any more.