Movie Valley
April 2010 Movie Reviews
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Alice in Wonderland
Starring: Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover
Directed By: Tim Burton
Run Time: 1 hr 49 mins

Alice in Wonderland is about a girl who falls down a hole, encounters strange beings, and must end the Red Queen's reign of terror.

It's been a few dozen years since I read the book so the story was pretty much new to me. I'm also wondering if this was actually Through the Looking Glass and not really Alice in Wonderland because the movie is about Alice's return to Wonderland... unless of course, Through the Looking Glass is about young Alice and Alice in Wonderland is about adult Alice. I can't remember. I suppose I need to re-read both books just to get my head straight. At any rate, the movie is about adult Alice's return to Wonderland.

It was a good movie. Not one I'm planning on owning, but it was rather enjoyable nonetheless. Very imaginative story. Not sure if how things were depicted on screen (like Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum) were how they once looked in my mind, though. Obviously Tim Burton and I have very different visualizations of imagination. I think parts of the movie (well, the book/story in many instances) was a bit over the top for the sake of being creative (all the different words for things). That usually bothers me. "Hey, look, I'm being creative by calling a spoon a flibberty gop!" Luckily, there were so many aspects of the story that did appeal to me that I was able to forgive the uber creative attempts. Yes, I am dissing on Lewis Carroll (and I'm okay with that).

There were so many things about the story that I loved. I loved that Alice was strong. I loved painting white roses red (and how that circled back). I think the Cheshire Cat and the Queen scared me too much as a kid that I wasn't able to fully enjoy - and see the power and whimsy of the story. Now as an adult, it was especially scary whenever there was the slightest hint that something might happen to the rabbit or the hare (I guess that's the vegetarian bunny owner in me). The story (when you get past the scary overtones) is absolutely wonderful and sweet.

I did love Alice, both as a character and as the actress who played her. Surprisingly, I wasn't that into Johnny Depp's Mad Hatter.

The 3D was hard to get into, particularly in the "real" world scenes. The scene where Alice fell down the hole was nearly impossible to watch in 3D. It was dark and everything was moving so fast so it was hard to catch (and see) what was happening. Falling down the hole, yes, but there were a lot of things floating and bumping into her. Couldn't see what, though. But then, thankfully, things settled down and the 3D was fun and useful.

So.... good movie. Not quite as scary as I remembered as a kid. Very sweet and wonderful story. I was simply amazed by the beauty to the actual story (not the scenery). Fun movie. Well done. Loved the sister rivalry. Little pin head. Glad I saw it.

Ooh, ooh - a side note: This marks the second movie IN A ROW that I watched that had Crispin Glover in it! How odd is that? I mean, the man probably hasn't been in anything in decades and then the two movies I watch in April (and note: I only saw two piddly movies in April) star him? Odd.

Hot Tub Time Machine
Starring: John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke, Lizzy Caplan
Directed By: Steve Pink
Run Time: 1 hr 40 mins

Hot Tub Time Machine is about a group of adults who were friends in high school who take a trip through time back to the 80s.

I saw this movie (finally) with Jeff. As usual, he liked it - and laughed a lot more - than I did. I enjoyed it but I think it was more enjoyable to him. Not that this is a teenage boy movie (it did have some overtones). The humor is universal. I think I just wanted it to be something more. I mean, the title itself is wonderful kitsch - Hot Tub Time Machine . It's right up there with Snakes on a Plane. You know exactly what you're going to get based on the movie's title and there's a bit of camp to it. You know you can't take the movie seriously. It's called Hot Tub Time Machine for heaven's sake!

On a higher level, this movie is about recapturing your youth and reflecting on your life (what could have been done better). It's also about coming to terms with your friends/friendships. You and your friends may be completely different people from what you once were in high school but you can't focus on your differences. You have to focus on what brought you together in the first place.

I did like the Back to the Future homage. I mean, when the movie is about time travel, people of a certain generation can't help but think about that movie. It fits the genre and the age group. I loved that Crispin Glover (who played Marty's dad) was in this movie and I also loved the "fading from existence" aspect.

The story - once they time travel back to the 80s - mixes "don't do anything to change the past" with "let's enjoy our youth" and "how would my life had turned out if only X had happened" wonderfully. It also has an absolutely cheesy depiction of life in the 80s. You can wax nostalgic about any bygone era all you want but if you really stepped back into it (cough, time travel), you'd see it for what it really was - bad clothes, bad music, and very bad hair (which is pretty much true of any era). Time moves on for a reason. It gives you something to heckle later on. I mean, sure parachute pants were comfortable and pretty snazzy but they had their moment (thank goodness). The story is also kind of a mystery. The group remembers some of the night's events but have to work out everything that happened - and why things happened - as they transpire.

The best - and probably funniest - part of the movie is the mystery behind why the bellman has one arm. He had two in the 80s. There are many, many, many moments that could have been the limb-loss event. After like the fifth moment, I had to cover my eyes any time there was an inkling that this next event might just be the moment where the bellman loses his arm. It was just too much (but in a good way). Jeff laughed more at me covering my eyes than the actual events.

All in all, this is a pretty good campy movie night movie. It's funny. It's very well done. Loved the Back to the Future references. Loved Crispin Glover. Loved the "twist" at the end. It's a feel good movie (even if there are moments where it doesn't feel like it). I just wanted it to be slightly funnier and better and smarter. Maybe that's just me. Jeff liked it.