*As the video starts out, we hear the famous Very Merry Unbirthday song play*
James: Of the many film versions of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, there's two I saw at a very young age, the 1951 animated version from Disney and the 1985 live action made-for-TV version. Hardcore fans of the Lewis Carroll novels may or may not be satisfied with any of the movie adaptations. It's debatable how well the language and poetry that made the original stories so captivating translates into film.
All that aside, I just want to give my impression of the two versions I saw as a kid. The later one, there's one particular scene I've been waiting to talk about ever since I started doing movie reviews, but we'll get to that very soon.
James: The Disney version is the first one I saw and that's the one I think about when I think of Alice in Wonderland. It was made in 1951 but it still holds up today. I believe it makes sense to any generation because it really isn't supposed to make any sense at all. I think it's hands down one of the best animated features from Disney.
It's not typical Disney formula, there's no romance, it doesn't feel dumbed down in a way most people think when it comes to Disney. This is a dark twisted journey through a child's mind. She's your only main character, you follow her all the way through from one crazy predicament to the next. Nobody she ever meets is normal, they're all psychopaths!
When she meets the flowers, they're all singing and everything's nice, then after they finish their song, they all start calling her a weed and being assholes.
Alice: I'm not a weed!
James: The caterpillar is fascinating to watch. You expect to hear some kind of words of wisdom, but instead all he does is puff smoke in her face, then he becomes a butterfly.
Alice: The other side of what?
Caterpillar (as a butterfly): THE MUSHROOM OF COURSE!!! *he flies off*
James: What a dick. The Mad Hatter and March Hare, of course, they're completely nuts. Shoving Alice around the table, raving like lunatics.
March Hare: Mad watch, mad watch, MAD WATCH!!
James: She never gets a chance to take one sip of tea, it's frustrating to watch.
Mad Hatter: Move down!
Alice: But I haven't used my cup.
March Hare (singing): Drink up, drink up, move down, move down, drink up, drunk up, move down!
James: The Cheshire Cat is my favorite.
Cheshire Cat: He went... that way *he points to the right*
Alice: Who did?
Cheshire Cat: The white rabbit.
Alice: He did?!
Cheshire Cat: He did what?
Alice: Went that way.
Cheshire Cat: Who did?
Alice: The white rabbit!!
Cheshire Cat: What rabbit?
James: Whenever he appears, you just see his smile. Every time I look at the crescent moon, I always think of the Cheshire Cat. He's loony and somewhat friendly. That's the strangest part, how uncertain you are about him. At first, he's just nuts. Then he comes back as a friend and for a brief moment you actually think he's gonna be helpful, but when he appears for the last time, he's a trouble maker and gets Alice into a real problem.
Alice: Oh no!!
James: It's kinda interesting how this translated into a film. At first it seems kinda unorganized, that it's just a series of scenes with Alice having strange encounters. The thread that holds it all together is that she's looking for the white rabbit. But towards the end, all the plot points happen in a row, she decides she's not looking for the rabbit anymore and wants to go home. But she gets lost, and cries in the middle of the woods, the sad low point of the film.
And then she finds a new way which leads her into the final act, so real quickly it turns into basic movie structure. The final act takes place under the mercy of the Queen of Hearts with an army of cards.
(We see the Queen's army marching together)
James: The animation on these marching cards is pretty impressive. The Queen is the most vile character of all and the first time Alice can't just walk away from the situation.
Queen of Hearts: OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!!
James: Man... she's such a bitch.
Alice: I'm trying to find my way home.
Queen of Hearts: Your way?! Always it's my way!!
James: Alice is the only character you understand, you find yourself asking the same questions she asks, feeling the same thing she feels and for the duration of the movie, it's as if you are Alice.
It's the perfect length where you put your brain away and feel like you're going insane. Then you come out of it back to the normal world refreshed. What a wild ride, what a great escape from reality.
James: And now it's time to talk about the 1985 TV special. It aired in two parts, the first being Alice in Wonderland and the second, Through The Looking Glass. The Disney version more or less tried to combine both stories, ironic they didn't choose to make a movie of an already existing sequel when nowadays there's Bambi 2, Cinderella 2, Cinderella 3! They make up sequels to anything they can.
Anyway, this version of Alice features an all-star cast. Look at the opening credits, I mean it's unreal! Sammy Davis Jr. is the Caterpillar, Ringo Starr is the Mock Turtle! And that's just the beginning, it's weird seeing all these famous performers wearing animal costumes. It kinda reminds me of Zoobilee Zoo... now that's a trip!
There's lots of song and dance, some are better than others. My favorite is this one by Carol Channing.
White Queen (singing): Oh you can wish as you want, you can want as you wish, still you'd better hear me say, jam tomorrow, jam yesterday!
James: She's out of her mind!
White Queen: Beeeetttteerrr.... *she turns into a sheep right in front of Alice*
James: Yeah, that just happened, she turned into a goat. Somebody's always turning into something, there's a scene where a baby turns into a pig.
*Alice looks down at the baby she rescued from The Duchess, only to see it turn into a squealing piglet before her very eyes*
James: That was disturbing, it was like squealing in pain! It's not easy to review this movie, all I can do is just point out all the memorable scenes, but it has to be seen to be believed. Weather it's good or bad depends on your perspective. I think it's a lot of fun, but mostly because I saw it at a young age. It's also been praised for following the books more closely.
But the main reason I bring it up is because of that one scene. It's something so terrifying and cruel, it's haunted me all my life. It happens at the very end of the first part. Alice returns to the real world and goes back to her house, she finds the house empty. Already, it's a discomforting situation, but it only gets worse.
So her family is on the other side of the mirror and they don't know she's there. It's a creepy thought that this girl is all alone and trapped in some parallel void. But the suspense keeps growing. She sits down and finds a book, in it she reads the Jabberwocky poem. Now as if things weren't scary enough, the room goes dark.
*Thunder crashes and the living room Alice is in goes dark, she gets a scared look and gets up. She hugs herself as she looks around the room*
James: You know something's coming, this is the stuff nightmares are made of!
Alice: Thunder doesn't frighten me... and I'm not the least bit afraid... *Alice slowly turns around... and sees the Jabberwocky right behind her!!* AAAHH!! *The Jabberwocky roars and slowly walks towards her*
James: Oh my god!! Seeing this as a kid was the most terrible thing ever, I ran from the TV crying! Only recently when this came out on DVD I've been able to see it again. It's still scary. Because nothing like that happens the rest of the movie, you spent the last hour and a half looking at all these goofy costumes and make-up, but this thing, just look at it!
And it's huge, especially compared to Alice, it's towering over her! I mean how scary would that be to a little girl?! She's been so brave the whole movie but this is so horrible it makes her scream! Another thing that makes this so frightening is that it happens in her own living room, how vulnerable is that?
And worst of all, you don't get a happy ending! That's it! It traumatized me, no resolution, the movie just stops! And it left you hanging until the following night when part two came on. The second part goes back to the singing and dancing. It was so morbid because the whole time you have this feeling of dread that the Jabberwocky's gonna come back any minute.
*We see the White Knight fighting the Jabberwocky with a sword while Alice watches from the side*
James: Of course it does but it's never as unexpected as it was the first time. Now that I've finally talked about this thing, my childhood is complete.
*We see clips from Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland*
James: The new Alice in Wonderland movie is coming out very soon and I'm curious about Christopher Lee playing the Jabberwocky. That might be the only reason I see it, combining two of my childhood haunts into one.
(NOTE: At the time of this writing, a sequel to Tim Burton's Alice, titled Through the Looking Glass, is scheduled to be released on May 27th, 2016)
Tim Burton's movies are really strong in the visual department but I don't have much interest in all these new re-imaginings. He already did Charlie and the Chocolate Factory so it's no doubt he's doing Wizard of Oz next. Though I guess I should mention now that I said that, he was an executive producer on a Wizard of Oz TV pilot that never aired.
Aside from that, it would be extremely predictable if he makes that movie next. I don't know who Johnny Depp would be, maybe the Scarecrow. Why is he in all his movies now? I just don't get it.
So anyway, I guess I had to mention the new movie. I just wanted to give my thoughts on the two that I saw growing up and that's all I have to say!
*The video ends with Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Toto heading down the Yellow Brick Road, singing the iconic song We're off to see the Wizard. Several characters from Tim Burton's movies slide into frame*