There are few films out right now that would be worthy of the description that I am about to give, however, this film I feel earned it. That description would be near perfect!
One of the key elements that made this happen for me was the solid feeling of congruence. There was a palpable symmetry between ALL of the characters. Each one of them performing an intricate part with in the rich tapestry of this tale.
Now, of course, there is a large portion of focus put upon Alice in this film but it is laid out in such a way where it doesn’t feel that way. The film unfolds in such a way where every character, every player, is connected within the thread of this tale, and yet has their own moment, their own vignette, their own spotlight. Alice is connected to the hatter, who is connected to the Red Queen, who, in turn, is connected to Time as well as the White Queen. This connection is near tangible throughout the entire film. Every life intertwined with the other.
Now to those who might be upset that this movie strays so far away from the original text I would say “I totally and completely understand where you’re coming from”! This is usually a point of contention for me as well when it comes to most movies that are based in such an established frame. The thing that made this story different for me is that this had more of the feel of someone writing their continuation of the story as a fan rather than someone just out for money, a fanfic, if you will. That was part of the charm of this movie for me. It had the feel of a fan of the original text rather then some soulless corporate muckety-muck.
The environment of this film is a lavish banquet for the eyes to feast upon, full of beautiful backdrops, extravagant colors, rich textures as well as foreboding and intimidating machines, beasts, and scenarios. The scenery and backdrops for this film where a seamless blending of the practical realm and that of the computer generated images and even though the film relied heavily on computer-generated images for locations, machines, and most, if not all, of the fanciful creatures, it is my opinion that it did not distract from the storytelling but rather, in this case, enhanced it!
The backgrounds, both with the houses as well as the foliage, came off as if they were almost painted by hand or built practically. The creatures were fluid. The machinations believably mechanical with the only discrepancy there being that it was sometimes difficult to make out some of the details due to the darkened environment.
The acting quality is what I would have expected it to be, outstanding! Johnny Depp is wonderfully playful, yet struggling deeply. Mia Wasikowska is bold and ferocious yet retains a certain vulnerability. Helena Bonham Carter is hilarious as the Red Queen and yet there is also a portion of the film where you are treated to a real and tender moment from her. Anne Hathaway nails the poshness and light persona of the White Queen and yet also brings a subtlety of emotion to her character. I do, however, have to give a special nod to Sacha Baron Cohen. His performance of Time actually changed my opinion of him (and leaves me hoping that there are more roles like this one in his future). His portrayal of time went far beyond his usual portrayal of crass and caustic buffoons and brought a rich, multifaceted, character to the screen. His accent was compelling and perfect, reminding me of Christoph Waltz. The level of dramatic depth he brought to this character I had not seen from him in any of his previous performances (That is not to say that he wasn’t wonderfully silly as well).
Overall I would say that it is the story that is the hero of this film having intertwined these elements into a tapestry of delight. This tale is filled with whimsy, laughter, loss, adventure, sorry, and joy!
This film is good for all ages having something to appeal to both the young and old alike. So don’t be an ” irksome, Sluuurvish, interrupting, thing” and make the “Time” to go see this movie!