First off, if you are reading this review and are planning on going to see the movie, take 2 hours, make a fresh batch of popcorn and revisit the first film. Especially if you have younger children that might need some of the back stories and character development. There are a lot of subtle references, especially in the humor that fall short if you don’t have it fresh in your mind.
Once again, Johnny Depp plays the Mad Hatter superbly well. Quirky and bizarre, the Mad Hatter fulfills all your expectations. He is a little more downtrodden than in the first movie but non the less steals the show. I loved how they used his hair color and eye color changes to express the mood of the story. I need to go back and see if they do the same thing in the first movie, I don’t think so, but I can’t remember.
Alice, played by Mia Wasikowska is outstanding. Her character has a huge task to complete in trying to find The Hatter’s family and unlike the first film, she is filled with confidence. She moves easily through the Underland with a noticeable familiarity and without the wonder and surprise you expect of Alice’s character. Clearly her years in reality have changed her. However, her peculiar demeanor and penchant for falling into trouble have not faded. It is a pleasant change for the character who once seemed fearful and flakey, to instead be brave and
A new (and one of the main characters) in the movie is Time, played by Sasha Baron Cohen. Alice has stolen his Chronosphere and is attempting to return to the day of the Jaberwocky to see if she can figure out what happened to The Hatter’s family. Of course messing with time is always a dangerous sport and that is how our story unfolds. Time (the character), like in real life, is a very likable enemy. He is not only trying to literally save time from Alice, he is also trying to prevent the Red Queen (Helena Bonham-Carter) from time traveling, as she desperately wants to go back in time to change her past.
This wouldn’t be a decent review if I didn’t at least mention the incredible imagery and direction. The combination of live sets, visual graphics and the live actors creates a beautiful, magical, whimsical land. The colors are vibrant and stunning. There were points in the film when my seven year old daughter would ask, “is that real or fake?” The large heart popping out of the deserted land where Iracebeth was imprisoned is simply remarkable. The imagery of the heart, her large head, the roots that could be veins, the desolation is simply my favorite scene in the entire film. wish there was a public image that I could share but there isn’t, so this poster will have to do. Beautiful right?
For parents wondering what ages I would recommend the movie for, I am going out on a limb here and say that I am honestly not sure. It is rated PG. There is some suspenseful content but no killings, no significant sexual innuendo. It is a lot less violent than the first movie. The premise of the movie is definitely on the heavier side and it may not keep the attention of a younger child unless they just really enjoy the visual effects and weirdness of the storyline. If you still aren’t sure, watch the first one and then decide.
My kids are seriously working on their video review skills. Each time I am seeing an improvement, less coaching, more natural reaction. Now I just need to get them into the details. However, I do think their opinions are important so be sure to watch their review videos:
Watch Lu’s (7 years old) video on YouTube!
Watch Eph’s (11 years old) review video on YouTube!
Have you seen it? What did you think?