Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

tim-burton-alice-and-wonderland-johnny-deep-mad-hatter-queen-hearts-01

I’m not quite sure why it took me so long to write about Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, since I saw it several weeks ago. For all my good intentions of making the viewing of this movie a special night out, I ended up seeing it with 150 Year 9 students on an excursion the day after coming back from a three day school camp – not exactly conducive to being able to enjoy it as much as I had wanted to. However, I did watch closely and try to get into the Tim Burton spirit of things as much as I could, and here’s my verdict:

The Good:

1. Visually beautiful. As can be expected from Burton, slightly dark overtones with splashes of vivid colour and amazing detail. I would never bother seeing this in 3D – it’s too stunning in the original format and messing around with the dimensions would take away from Burton’s wonderful landscapes.

2. The cast. Johnny Depp was deliciously zany, Helena Bonham Carter made the Red Queen come alive and really, is there anyone else who can do “dryness” as well as Alan Rickman? They were all brilliant.

3. The costumes. I suppose this should go along with “visually beautiful” but really, the costumes were magnificent in their own right.

The “not bad but not necessarily good”:

1. The storyline. It followed the typical Hero’s Journey to a tee, but because of that, it was a bit boring and predictable. Even my Year 9 students told me that they found the storyline boring since they could tell what was going to happen. I was actually glad that they did – it means that they are dissatisfied with archetypes and willing to question what is presented to them. I told them that this was because last year we studied novels and films that challenged the archetypal Hero’s Quest (Mortal Engines by Phillip Reeve and Howl’s Moving Castle by Miyazaki). When studying these texts, we pulled apart the expectations of the typical quest story and found that texts that challenged the archetypes were much more powerful. I was proud of my Year 9s for being dissatisfied with the “Alice” story!!

The Ugly:

1. The characters were fantastically ugly! I remember hearing about an interview with Helena Bonham Carter who was complaining that in Burton’s films, he always makes her look completely ugly – and it’s true! But she plays ugly well.

Overall:

Worth seeing at the cinema to appreciate the beautiful cinematography. Worth seeing in general if you are either an Alice in Wonderland fan or a Tim Burton fan (I am both). Go and see it with the expectation to be visually wowed, but don’t expect the storyline to blow your mind.

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