Alice in Wonderland – 3D IMAX

Between studying for an exam next week and packing my house for an April
15th closing, I finally took myself to the movies today. After seeing
Avatar in 3D IMAX and hence, the 3D ads for Alice, I knew 3D IMAX was the
way to go for this one.

Did I like Alice in Wonderland? In short, yes. I enjoyed it. But I think
that the 3D IMAX experience was what lifted it up to a special category. I’
m sure it would be fun in 2D but I recommend 3D IMAX if you have the
opportunity. More on that shortly.

I confess to having almost no recollection of the book and have never seen
any of the other film versions so I am not able to make any comparisons. I
did enjoy the choice to make Alice a young adult and insert the Wonderland
story into the context of Alice’s eminent and difficult marriage decision.
It made the outcome of Alice’s personal growth in Wonderland matter to me on
a more concrete level than just that of the fantasy story.

All the performances were fun. Johnny Depp was, well, Johnny Depp. He was
perfectly nutty with only the occasional hint of Capt. Jack Sparrow.
Newcomer, Mia Wasikowska, handled the role of Alice well, bringing some
layers to the character that might have gone flat. The Tweedles, played by
Matt Lucas, were amusing with the occasional real spark.

But the star of this show was Helena Bonham Carter. Her Red Queen was
perfect. She took this part way beyond cliché and made it unforgettable.
If I ever see the movie again it will be because of her performance.

As to color – there’s plenty of it here, but the main dynamic is predictable
and rooted in the story: Red Queen = aggressive. White Queen = Good
(although the black lips and nails do make you wonder). The Mad Hatter’s
orange hair is appropriately zany. I loved the Cheshire cat – of course I
did – and especially his glowing blue-green eyes and stripes. Blue for a
bit of otherworldliness maybe?

Now to the broader experience.

I have to do this, you know. I have to compare Alice to Avatar because,
there’s just no avoiding it. Here goes:

I saw Avatar first in 2D and there were times it was visually so spectacular
I stopped breathing. Then I saw it in 3D and enjoyed it again. I
especially loved all the stuff in the air – insects, plant bits, ashes from
explosions, etc. I loved the feeling of walking past giant ferns and flying
down the sides of cliffs. But I can’t say that I would have missed out on
the main visual impact of the film if I had only seen it in 2D. The world
of Pandora is so alien to ours that every moment demanded intense attention.
If I enjoyed it any more the 2nd time it was because I could divert from the
main action and take the time to look more closely at the details.

Alice in Wonderland is also a fantasy world but it is the world of fairy
tales that we are already accustomed to. Giant flowers and talking animals
are all part of a day’s work in storybook land. So it was easier to just
take it as a whole and not have the overwhelming sensory experience of
Avatar. However, it seems that Alice exploits some of the 3D opportunity
more than Avatar. There were more times when I jumped because of things
coming at me. But, this film needed the 3D experience to give it that extra
something. Avatar did not.

I would love to be able to freeze-frame through the many sets of the movie.
Most were on the screen so briefly I only had a glimpse of them. Many
looked like they would be great fun to have a close look at.

I can’t leave it without mentioning one really annoying moment at the
beginning. Why did they feel it necessary to put heavy mascara, eye shadow
and lipstick on the young Alice? What was she? Seven?

Now, go see it for yourself and tell me what you think!