For the first time in a long while, my usual crew of film-going cohorts were all present and accounted for at last night’s screening of Alice in Wonderland in 3-D at the Navy Pier IMAX theater. Alissa and Jon, Nite and Jeff, Elisa and me. We were all lucky to be on the Ain’t It Cool News RSVP list for the screening (thanks, Steve!). Well, us and several hundred other people. Seriously! It was insane!
I saw a girl wearing a short blue dress with a full skirt. I think the idea was “slutty Alice”. Of course I had to scowl and complain to Elisa about this particular costume-wearing Disgrasian: “Why she gotta be Asian?” Elisa laughed. She had brought a bag of goodies from XOCO, and was kind enough to share her pepito sandwich with me. Also she gave me a churro. And still I managed to help Nite with his snack, a chicken McNugget 10-piece and fries from the Navy Pier McDonald’s. Alissa and Jon joined us, then Jeff. I had to take a picture of all of them, as I felt like it had been so long since we’d all seen a movie together. I had to take two pictures, as this rather mediocre-looking gentleman standing behind us on line got in the first shot. He tried to smile at me but I don’t take kindly to photobombers. Especially when theyr’e wearing stonewashed jeans.
We didn’t have to wait too long for seating to begin, though we did have to wait just long enough for an employee of the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company restaurant to “entertain” the crowd of people waiting for the movie. And when I say “entertain” I mean “yell trivia questions about Forrest Gump that absolutely nobody gave a shit about”. The Bubba Gump people seemed to have more success when they started giving out free food samples.
It seems there was a second line maybe of people being let into the theater because by the time we made it in most of the seats at the back of the IMAX auditorium were gone. We sat in the second row, towards the bottom of the stage, which worked out very well. We were closer and surrounded by the curved screen. For a movie as lush as Alice was, and in 3-D no less, it was like being submerged in a really awesome hallucination filled with pastries and talking animals.
Again, we were lucky to get in. Steve talked to the crowd beforehand, saying that just as many people who were in the theater were left standing outside. They’d have to wait until today and buy tickets to see the movie. Suckers! The people inside were a fairly diverse population. I was worried about the small child who sat right behind Jeff (I could see his face when this kid squeaked something for the first time, and he did not look thrilled) but she didn’t cry or kick as far as I know. Seated directly in front of me were two girls in fancy dress (that’s British for “costume” — you knew I was fancy, right?). They were rather buxom, or looked it anyway. The girl right in front of me wore a Queen of Hearts costume, a long black and white and red gown with a corset back, complete with a tiny crown just like the one worn by the Queen in the Disney version of Alice in Wonderland. Well, I guess if you like a thing, you have to show it, right?
And then the movie. Which was fine. It was what I’ve come to expect from Tim Burton-Johnny Depp collaborations. It was pretty and the actress who played Alice was quite wonderful. The other human performances, not so much. Crispin Glover really only ever gets cast to be the token really weird dude, it seems, and Helena Bonham-Carter’s Queen of Hearts was a big-headed toddler who got pretty dull after a while. There should have been of the animals. They were really wonderful, played by some great actors. Elisa agreed with me on this point and so did Steve in his review:
I also found myself craving more of the animals characters, voiced by a who’s who of some of Britain’s greatest acting talents, including Michael Sheen as the prim and proper White Rabbit, Matt Lucas as Tweedledee and Tweedledum, Alan Rickman as the Blue Caterpillar (never without his hookah pipe), Timothy Spall as the loyal bloodhound Bayard, the unmistakeable Christopher Lee as the Jabberwocky, and my favorite voice performance, Stephen Fry as the vaporous Cheshire Cat. I could have watched an entire movie just about him and been peachy.
Oh, I’m sure this movie will make loads of money and sell a lot of merch. The merchandising for this movie has been pretty comprehensive. I am drooling over the Tom Binns jewelry for this film. For serious, this enamel “tea party” necklace he designed for Disney Couture is just gorgeous, and it’s only $900!
But before I forget, while there were many things I didn’t love about this movie, there was nothing that I outright hated. That is, until the end.
I don’t think I can be accused of providing a spoiler for a movie based on a book published in 1865, but here is a spoiler alert anyway (insert eye-rolling here). After Alice has slain the Jabberwocky, the Mad Hatter (who was all over this movie in a way that he wasn’t either in the book or previous adapatations) is so delighted that he absolutely has to dance dance dance! As if that wasn’t weird enough, this dance was like some really bad krumping. Kinda like this, but instead of this chick in the short shorts and exposed belly, picture Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter:
I kept turning to Nite and saying “Oh my god!” and “Is this really happening?” and “This is fucking awful.” And then later in the movie, Alice did a similar gig and I wanted to throw something at the screen to show my displeasure. Or maybe for the Blue Caterpillar to give me some of the something he was smoking in his hookah and turn this cinematic nightmare back into a somewhat pleasant dream.