As Mad as a Hatter: Alice in Wonderland thoughts

I went to see Alice in Wonderland last night with my friends. It’s one of those movies that I was looking forward to watching for months on end, and I was really excited come Friday 5th March to see what it’d be like.

Plus, there was that formidable partnership of Johnny Depp and Tim Burton. It’s an offer even the most discerning of film buffs can’t refuse.

So, we settled in to our comfy cinema seats, glasses on (we saw the 3D version), and tilted our necks up to see the silver screen (unfortunately we only got seats in the very front row, although we were so desperate to see the movie as soon as possible that we didn’t actually mind –  hey, if you’re a Depp/Burton fan like me, you’ve gotta sacrifice some things sometime).

From the moment the Walt Disney logo came on, with that sweeping cinematic music that can only accompany the greatest of cinema, I knew this was going to be good. Really good.

And that unfortunately, was the biggest problem with Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. There was way too much high expectation of it. And for me, it was not all “that”, once I walked out of the cinema after two hours of visual overload.

The graphics were amazing. This movie, like Avatar, is a showcase of the most expensive technology in the biz coming together to create the most beautiful-looking frames.

But we all know that a really good movie actually relies on two distinct things: the storyline, and the acting.

Burton’s Alice has a compelling storyline. It’s a fresh take on one of the most celebrated tales in our literature history. It has that perfect Disney combination: wit, moral value, family entertainment, and inspiring dialogue.

But it was the acting that I was really looking forward to. As I mentioned earlier, I am a huge fan of Johnny Depp, and I’ve been enthralled with his performances in Sweeney Todd, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Public Enemies. But in Alice, there seemed to be something… missing in his performance. He was very bland, to put it bluntly. I felt he could’ve portrayed the eccentric character of the Mad Hatter in a far more exciting way.

Sure, his performance from a technical standpoint was excellent. There was the right balance of emotion, gesture, and method-acting focus that we’ve come to expect from such a high calibre actor, but Depp didn’t play out the Hatter to its full extent; he didn’t push his character to its limits.

But overall, I enjoyed this film, as a good cinematic escape. It took me to a new world, captured my imagination, and inspired me to believe that “nothing is impossible.” And so, after all, it was the story that won me over. I’d recommend you definitely see this film, as it is a benchmark in the progress of modern cinema. But be cautioned: don’t go in with the high expectations I had.

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