Tag Archives: Mia Wasikowska

Stoker (2013) Review

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Stoker

Time: 99 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence & sex scenes
Cast:
Mia Wasikowska as India Stoker
Matthew Goode as Charlie Stoker
Nicole Kidman as Evelyn Stoker
Dermot Mulroney as Richard Stoker
Jacki Weaver as Aunt Gwendolyn “Gin” Stoker
Director: Park Chan-wook

After the untimely death of her father, India (Mia Wasikowska) and her mother (Nicole Kidman) are left alone in their estate. Soon, the arrival of her uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode), who she never knew existed, is followed by unexpected developments.

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I know of Stoker as Park Chan-wook film starring Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode and Nicole Kidman, and happened to be his English-language debut. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect going into it outside of the people involved. Having seen it, I wouldn’t say that this is one of his best movies, but almost all of Park’s movies I’ve seen are great, and this is too.

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As it turns out, the screenplay was written by Wentworth Miller, and overall, I thought it was good. It is a very atmospheric, unsettling and mysterious movie, having elements of classic thrillers. The eerie atmosphere is helped by the mystical and mysterious characters in the forefront. It is essentially a gothic mystery drama which dabbles in multiple elements including coming of age, mystery, thriller and unconventional family drama to create a generally compelling story. The story is definitely dark in tone but tame as far as violence is concerned, at least compared to Park Chan-wook’s other movies like his Vengeance trilogy. Instead of relying on overt graphic scenes, it is the suggestion that works for the disturbing elements. The movie does take its time but initially gives you just enough information to have you intrigued. The plot is familiar, and the story can be a little thin and implausible at points. It does require patience as it takes a while to reveal its secrets but I was intrigued throughout. It is also a cold movie with its characters rather distant, but I think that works for the movie’s favour. The movie is 98 minutes long but with the slower pacing it feels closer to like 2 hours, but that’s not necessarily a criticism.

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The performances are great and really make the story even more involving. Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode and Nicole Kidman shine in the lead roles of their strange characters. Wasikowska’s performance in the lead role of India is nuanced and quiet with a lot of hidden emotion that creeps in over time. She’s very mysterious and keeps you guessing what role she plays in the whole story. She was a perfect fit for the role and so far this is the best performance I’ve seen from her. This is also probably the best performance I’ve seen from Matthew Goode as the mysterious uncle of Wasikowska’s character, effectively giving a creepy vibe and a feeling that something is off about him. Nicole Kidman works really well in the movie despite not having a huge amount of screentime, and effectively playing an archetype that has been seen many times before.

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GThe direction from Park Chan-wook is stunning as always, and much of the style is the substance of the whole movie. The movie looks visually beautiful and perfectly shot. With the stylish sets and costumes, it made it difficult to place the film in a context, place or time, making it effectively timeless. The editing is tight and really well done, an example that stands out is one where it transitions from Nicole Kidman’s hair to grass. The transitions particularly stood out. One of the key technical elements is that of the sound editing and mixing, almost like the movie is constructed around them. Much of the movie focuses on the noise of specific objects, and these plays a big part in ramping up tension, in a horror movie like way. The score from Clint Mansell is also solid and works for the movie.

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Stoker again isn’t one of Park Chan-wook’s best movies but it is nonetheless a solid gothic thriller, with an interesting enough story and definitely helped by the strong performances from Wasikowska, Kidman and Goode, and Park’s stylish direction. If you like slow-burn gothic thrillers with a dark and creepy atmosphere I think it’s worth checking out.

Crimson Peak (2015) Review

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Crimson Peak

Time: 119 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence, horror, sex scenes and offensive language
Cast:
Mia Wasikowska as Edith Cushing
Jessica Chastain as Lucille Sharpe
Tom Hiddleston as Thomas Sharpe
Charlie Hunnam as Dr. Alan McMichael
Jim Beaver as Carter Cushing
Director: Guillermo del Toro

Edith (Mia Wasikowska) ignores her father’s warning and marries Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston). When she arrives at the Sharpe mansion, she learns about her husband’s secrets and realises that the place is teeming with ghosts.

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Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak got quite a mixed reception upon its release, mostly because of expectations. I was one of group of people who really liked it, and I liked it even more when I watched it again. On a writing, acting and especially directing level, I thought it was great and I was invested throughout.

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First of all, Crimson Peak is not really a horror movie, horror is really the secondary genre for this movie. Don’t look at the trailers because they are misleading, and don’t really accurately represent the movie. It’s also not a straight up ghost story, there are plenty of grotesque ghosts but they serve more as a backdrop to the real plot, in a similar way as another ghost story from Guillermo del Toro named The Devil’s Backbone. Whereas that movie was a drama mystery containing horror elements, Crimson Peak is a gothic and period piece romance film that has horror elements. The story is a gothic fairy tale, and a masterfully crafted Victorian era murder story. The atmosphere is great, and there are some well placed twists. The movie is somewhat over the top and cheesy at times, but it’s intended to be that way. It is unapologetically soap opera and embraces that at points. At the same time, it is very dark and haunting, with a good amount of tension and suspense throughout. It’s not for everyone, you get the feeling that it was really made for a niche audience. I’d say that within the first 30 minutes, you’ll be able to figure out if this movie is your thing or not.

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The acting is all great, but there are mainly 3 performances who stand out the most. Mia Wasikowska plays her lead character with such humanity. Tom Hiddleston is effectively charming yet conflicted, and fits his role well. However, Jessica Chastain was the actor that stood out the most for me in the cast. As her character she’s unnerving, campy, evil and unhinged, and she played her role fantastically. Other actors in the supporting cast including Charlie Hunnam also play their parts well in their screentime.

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Guillermo del Toro’s direction is great as to be expected, especially on a visual level. The cinematography adds another layer to the whole picture, with its well staged shots and gorgeous aesthetics (especially the use of red). The lighting is perfect while the use of colours is fabulous, while the camera movements, angles and transitions are smoothly carried out. It really makes you feel like you’re in a different world. The set and costume designs are also incredibly detailed, the main haunted house is particularly fantastic. There’s also some creepy imagery that’s quite memorable when its present. The ghosts provide the most scares, particularly wit the jump scares. While people don’t really like jump scares, it did add some horror atmosphere and does spice up things for the audience from the slow and deliberate story. The moments of violence also stand out and punctuates the otherwise gothic fantasy feeling of the movie. The poetic score from Fernando Velazquez also fits the movie perfectly.

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Crimson Peak is great, it’s dark, visually gorgeous, and well put together and acted. Again, it’s not for everyone. But if you are interested in watching it, go in expecting a gothic romance with horror elements, not a full on horror movie. I might be in the minority of this, but I think it’s in the stronger half of Guillermo del Toro’s filmography, and by far his most underrated film.

The Devil All the Time (2020) Review

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The Devil All the Time

Time: 138 Minutes
Cast:
Tom Holland as Arvin Eugene Russell
Bill Skarsgård as Willard Russell
Robert Pattinson as Reverend Preston Teagardin
Riley Keough as Sandy Henderson
Jason Clarke as Carl Henderson
Sebastian Stan as Sheriff Lee Bodecker
Eliza Scanlen as Lenora Laferty
Haley Bennett as Charlotte Russell
Mia Wasikowska as Helen Hatton Laferty
Harry Melling as Roy Laferty
Director: Antonio Campos

A young man (Tom Holland) is devoted to protecting his loved ones in a town full of corruption and sinister characters.

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The Devil All the Time was one of my most anticipated movies of 2020. First of all it has one of the biggest casts of the year, with it including Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgard, Robert Pattinson, Jason Clarke, and Riley Keough, so naturally that had my curiosity. On top of that though, the prospect of a psychological thriller with a large group of characters sounded quite appealing and very much my kind of film. Having seen it, I can see why some people are mixed on it, it’s not for everyone, but I’m glad to say that I really liked the movie and it really worked for me.

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You could describe The Devil All the Time as like The Place Beyond the Pines as written by Cormac McCarthy or The Coen Brothers. It spans a number of decades and generations, and features a large number of characters with intertwining storylines. It can feel like it’s not driving towards something for most of the movie, it’s very much a character driven story. For me though it works, I found the story and characters compelling, and I was invested with what was happening. As mentioned earlier it is not for everyone. It is a very grim and bleak movie, a lot of graphic, violent and gruesome acts happen, there are some pretty dark themes and subject matter touched on throughout, and almost all of the main characters are pretty far from what you’d call ‘a good person’ to say the least. So it’s likely to turn a lot of people off. The movie is also just under 2 hours and 20 minutes long, it does feel quite long and it is slowly paced for sure. You could make the argument that some parts could’ve been trimmed. At the same time there are some plotlines that could’ve done with some fleshing out, particularly those of Jason Clarke, Riley Keough and Sebastian Stan. Maybe a mini series might’ve been able to flesh out all the aspects of the story while not feeling too drawn out, but I’m fine with how it is as a movie. One point of contention will be with the narration by Donald Ray Pollock, the author of the book the movie was based on. It will work for some, and others will hate it, I have very mixed feelings on it. It really did add something to the tone of the movie, making it feel like a gothic folk tale, and it also added some context to the characters and the story that it sometimes needed. So I wouldn’t say that it should’ve been completely removed or anything. However, it really needed to be cut back a ton. There’s many moments that would’ve been more effective if they didn’t have narration, it just explains way too much, including what some characters are doing and why they are doing it, and it just takes me out of the movie. This may be a nitpick but there are a few characters who are around from the 40s through to the 60s, and don’t look like they aged a day, and it can be a bit distracting.

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The cast are of course the standouts from the movie, and everyone is great on their part. Riley Keough and Jason Clarke play a serial killer couple, Sebastian Stan plays a corrupt sheriff, and Harry Melling plays a fanatical preacher, the later of whom was one of the biggest surprises of the movie, delivering a truly memorable performance. Although their characters aren’t given much to do, Eliza Scanlen, Haley Bennett, Mia Wasikowska do well on their parts, and Scanlen particularly gave an effective performance. Even amongst an ensemble of great performances, there were three actors that stood out. First of all is Tom Holland, as the main character of the story (despite appearing for the first time like 40 minutes into the movie) Arvin Russell. This was quite a different role for him, a much darker and emotional role for him, and he was actually great on his part. While I like him in the movies I’ve seen of his, I’d say that this is so far the best performance of his career thus far. I hope Holland branches out to more indie movies like this, because he’s definitely got a lot of range. Bill Skarsgard is also great as Arvin’s father, he really leaves a strong impression despite being in the movie for only like 30 minutes. He gives an intense and emotional performance, and possibly the best work I’ve seen from him thus far. Robert Pattinson is also a scene stealer as a sleezy, deranged and sinister reverend. He’s not even in the movie a ton but he makes the most of his screentime. His performance could’ve so easily failed, it is definitely over the top. However it actually really works, and he really did well at portraying the most hateable character in the film, and considering the lineup of characters in this story that is saying a lot. A particular scene between him and Holland is one of the best scenes of the year.

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This is the first movie I watched from Antonio Campos, and from this I can tell that he’s a great director, and I do want to watch his other movies. It’s very well put together. The cinematography is great and really sells the environment and time period effectively. The 35mm and the grain really also really fit the movie and tone. You really get the gothic rural feeling throughout. The use of music was pretty great, both the song choices and the score, and really worked particularly well in some certain scenes. The violence and brutality is really effective and impactful, it feels very realistic, and there are some moments and particularly some imagery that really stick with you.

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The Devil All the Time has some issues with some of the executions of its ideas and with its writing, but on the whole I think it’s great. I was invested throughout, it’s very well directed, and it features some fantastic acting, particularly from Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgard and Robert Pattinson. It’s not for everyone, the aimless story might drag for some, and the grim tone might turn some people off. With that said I think that it might be worth watching for the ensemble of great performances alone.

Lawless (2012) Review

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Lawless

Time: 116 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] contains violence
Cast:
Shia LaBeouf as Jack Bondurant
Tom Hardy as Forrest Bondurant
Jessica Chastain as Maggie Beauford
Gary Oldman as Floyd Banner
Jason Clarke as Howard Bondurant
Guy Pearce as Special Deputy Charley Rakes
Mia Wasikowska as Bertha Minnix
Dane DeHaan as Cricket Pate
Director: John Hillcoat

In 1931, the Bondurant brothers of Franklin County, Va., run a multipurpose backwoods establishment that hides their true business, bootlegging. Middle brother Forrest (Tom Hardy) is the brain of the operation; older Howard (Jason Clarke) is the brawn, and younger Jack (Shia LaBeouf), the lookout. Though the local police have taken bribes and left the brothers alone, a violent war erupts when a sadistic lawman (Guy Pearce) from Chicago arrives and tries to shut down the Bondurants’ operation.

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I remember watching Lawless a long time ago, and although I didn’t remember it being particularly great, I remember thinking it was at least pretty good. Since I was watching/re-watching other Tom Hardy movies, I thought I’d give this one another go, and my opinion of it is around the same. There’s not much that’s particularly wrong with the movie, in fact there’s a lot of good things about it, from the direction to the cast. I’m just not quite sure that I can call it great, but I still think that it is pretty good.

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Lawless isn’t a fast paced thriller by any means, it’s a slow burn gritty drama, and I personally liked it for that. There are certainly signs of greatness, it’s just that there’s just something missing from it. The story is actually rather straightforward and wasn’t anything special for a crime drama. I think it felt just a little too conventional, accessible and neatly packaged. They could’ve done a little more with the story and gone too some more interesting places, Lawless doesn’t really do anything that we haven’t seen done many times before and done better. With that being said, for what it was I was quite entertained for its 2 hour runtime, but it could’ve been a little better.

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The cast all around great and are among the best parts of Lawless, although some of the characters could’ve used some more development. This is mainly Shia LaBeouf’s movie, and he’s quite good in his role as the younger brother who isn’t quite as experienced as his older brothers. Tom Hardy is great in everything he’s in, and his performance in Lawless as the leader of the Bondurant brothers is no exception. He doesn’t say a lot (you just hear him grunting most of the time), but he has a lot of screen presence nonetheless, and was effective whenever he’s on screen. This is also probably one of the best performances I’ve seen from Jason Clarke as the oldest of the brothers. Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska provide some good performances, elevating their rather underdeveloped and uninteresting roles with their acting. Gary Oldman is indeed in this movie as a notable gangster, but really they could’ve gotten any actor in the role, he’s only in a few scenes. Don’t get me wrong, Oldman owns every scene he has in the movie, but he takes up such a small portion of the film and wasn’t that central to the plot that it kind of felt like overkill having an actor of his calibre for the role. One of the performances that stood out the most from this movie was that of Guy Pearce as the villain of the film. He’s effectively creepy, slimy and unnerving in this role as a Special Deputy Marshall brought in to go after bootleggers, and especially the main characters of the story. There’s not a whole lot to the character, but Pearce from his appearance to his performance makes Charley Rakes an easy character to hate. It’s quite an over the top and almost cartoonish character and performance but it kind of works for this movie.

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Lawless was really well directed by John Hillcoat. It’s a great looking movie, and Hillcoat certainly got the period setting right at least on a technical level, with the locations, the costumes and production design. Also, when it comes to the violence (even though there isn’t a massive amount of it), it’s brutal and hard hitting.

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Lawless unfortunately doesn’t quite reach the levels of greatness that it’s clearly aspiring to reach, but it’s a solid movie nonetheless. It was directed exceptionally well, and has a relatively decent story that at least kept me entertained for the runtime. Top that off with a great cast, and Lawless is a movie that’s worth a watch if you like those actors or even just decent crime dramas.

Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016) Review

Alice (Mia Wasikowska) returns to the whimsical world of Underland and travels back in time to save the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) in Disney's ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, an all-new adventure featuring the unforgettable characters from Lewis Carroll's beloved stories.

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Time: 113 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Some scenes may scare very young children
Cast:
Johnny Depp as Tarrant Hightopp, the Mad Hatter
Anne Hathaway as Mirana of Marmoreal, the White Queen
Mia Wasikowska as Alice Kingsleigh
Helena Bonham Carter as Iracebeth of Crims
Sacha Baron Cohen as Time
Rhys Ifans as Zanik Hightopp
Matt Lucas as Tweedledum and Tweedledee
Alan Rickman as Absolem, the Butterfly (voice)
Stephen Fry as Cheshire, the Cheshire Cat (voice)
Michael Sheen as Nivens McTwisp, the White Rabbit (voice)
Timothy Spall as Bayard, the Bloodhound (voice)
Director: James Bobin


Alice (Mia Wasikowska) returns to Underland and finds the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) in an illness. The White Queen (Anne Hathaway) told Alice that in order to help the Hatter, she must travel to the past, only to find out that the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) and Time (Sacha Baron Cohen), a walking clock-like man, have a plan to take over Underland.

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I didn’t have any expectations going into Alice Through the Looking Glass. I really disliked the first film, it’s been 6 years since the original and it seems that the only reason this film exists is because it made lots of money. And the sequel was pretty much what I expected it to be. The story is messy, the acting (for the most part) is over the top and sometimes bad, and the visuals are fake looking (even more so than the original). It’s a frustrating because the film had some potential.

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This movie is all over the place. There’s so many elements crammed into this movie and they aren’t fully formed or developed. This movie has so much going on, the Red Queen and White Queen’s backstory, the Mad Hatter’s backstory, Alice in the real world, and so many more and I didn’t care about any of these plotlines. It’s almost as if it was a tv series with all the plots of the episodes plots stuffed and cut down to fit one movie. I will say that this movie had more potential than the first film as it dealt with time, and there are some ideas in the film which seemed okay, at least to me. But as I said, the ideas aren’t fully realised or developed well enough. I also never really cared about what was going on or was concerned about how things would end, I just straight up didn’t care about anything that was going on in the movie.

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In the first movie, I didn’t like Mia Wasikowska’s performance, I thought that it was bland, boring and flat (though it really wasn’t her fault). I actually liked her in this movie however, she doesn’t have a lot of great material to work with but she was quite good here and was a likable protagonist. I also really liked Sacha Baron Cohen as Time. However if you think that Time is the main antagonist of the movie, that’s unfortunately not the case, it’s the Red Queen again, which… kinda sucks because she’s extremely over the top and doesn’t work at all. Everyone else is pretty much their characters from the first film, but worse. Johnny Depp is doing Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter is doing Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway… really didn’t give a good performance here either. Particularly those three were annoying in their roles.

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The first movie had an overload of CGI and green screen, leading to some sequences feeling quite fake, however it was still a good looking movie overall. Somehow this movie manages to add even more CGI and green screen, nothing feels natural, everything feels artificial and fake. The designs for a lot of the locations and the characters (like in the first film) were creative and sometimes great, but they aren’t portrated on screen that well.

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Alice through the Looking Glass is what I expected this movie to be. It’s about as bad as the original, there are some elements which are better and there are some elements which are worse. I did like Mia Wasikowska and Sacha Baron Cohen in their roles, and there are some ideas and potential in the story. But at the same time the script is crammed with so many unformed ideas, the acting is mostly over the top and occasionally bad (particularly from Depp, Bonham Carter and Hathaway) and the CGI and green screen was horrible. I have no idea what you’ll think of this movie, but I’ll say if you didn’t like the first film, I think it’s highly unlikely that you’ll like the sequel.

Alice in Wonderland (2010) Review

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Alice in Wonderland

Time: 108 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Frightening fantasy scenes and violence
Cast:
Johnny Depp as The Mad Hatter
Anne Hathaway as The White Queen
Helena Bonham Carter as The Red Queen
Crispin Glover as Stayne – Knave of Hearts
Matt Lucas as Tweedledee/Tweedledum
Mia Wasikowska as Alice Kingsleigh
Alan Rickman as Blue Caterpillar (voice)
Stephen Fry as Cheshire Cat (voice)
Michael Sheen as White Rabbit (voice)
Timothy Spall as Bayard (voice)
Director: Tim Burton

A young girl when she first visited magical Wonderland, Alice Kingsleigh (Mia Wasikowska) is now a teenager with no memory of the place — except in her dreams. Her life takes a turn for the unexpected when, at a garden party for her fiancé and herself, she spots a certain white rabbit and tumbles down a hole after him. Reunited with her friends the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), the Cheshire Cat and others, Alice learns it is her destiny to end the Red Queen’s (Helena Bonham Carter) reign of terror.

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Tim Burton nowadays can be hit or miss with hits with Sweeney Todd and misses with Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. When it comes to his take on Alice in Wonderland, people are divided but the movie did make a lot of money so obviously a lot of people liked it. However in my opinion, Alice in Wonderland is a miss and it might be his worst work yet. I haven’t read the book or seen any of the previous interpretations but yet I found this movie a bad adaptation. It tries to be this big grand war movie when it didn’t need to be. It’s so strange how this movie turned out, considering the fact that Tim Burton is a perfect choice to direct an adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. But whatever the case, I felt that this movie was a huge let down and a terrible version of the classic story.

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It should be noted that this movie isn’t even an adaptation of the original Alice in Wonderland story because this isn’t the first time Alice has been to Wonderland. Later you find out that this place isn’t even called Wonderland, it’s called Underland. So the movie is more Grown Up Alice Returns to Underland than Alice in Wonderland. This movie also seemed to miss the point of Alice in Wonderland. There is some made up prophecy story forced into this movie and it also tries to make a war movie out of Alice in Wonderland. Because of this there are so many plot holes, like there’s a scene where Alice uses the enlarging cake to grow bigger, couldn’t they just make more of that cake and use it to win the war? Also despite this movie being PG, there are some pretty dark things that happen in the movie, so this film also doesn’t know what age they are working towards.

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Mia Wasikowska plays Alice and she is extremely bland and boring in this movie. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure she’s a great actress, I just think it was the direction and writing that let her down. She barely looks interested or distressed by all the events happening all around her. Johnny Depp is playing typical Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter is playing typical Helena Bonham Carter. They aren’t bad but they aren’t anything special either, same can be said for the other characters.

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I will say the one good thing about this movie is that at times the style does show Wonderland off quite well. The designs for all the characters are perfect, take the Cheshire cat for instance. Tim Burton and Alice in Wonderland were a perfect pair for each other and although the rest of the movie isn’t good, at least everything looks great, even though there is quite a lot of CGI used.

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Alice in Wonderland was so popular that this year we’ll be getting a sequel. Do I think it’s possible for it to be good? Anything is possible but it’s unlikely. This film did have some good designs and some potential with Burton’s involvement, however the writing completely lets the story down by being bigger and more serious than it should. I think this is my least favourite Tim Burton movie so far. I know that Burton isn’t directing the sequel but I’m still not looking forward to it. Then again Alice in Wonderland is not a very tough act to follow, so it might at least be better.