by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL
With the Disney movie “Alice in Wonderland” opening simultaneously in area theaters last Friday, March 5, we headed out to catch the opening at our hometown movie venue, NorthStar Cinemas. Wanting to catch this movie with one of our favorite actors, Johnny Depp, we had an ulterior motive. Your scribes had decided to expand our reporting horizons by doing an occasional movie review.
Before we get to the articulars of this film, let us pause to reflect upon on omething we tend to take for granted. How fortunate we are in the greater Rockford and Cedar Springs communities to have a fine six-screen movie house just minutes away.
At NorthStar Cinemas, we can enjoy first-run movies at small-town prices. In comparison to the out-of-town “big-box multi-screen” movie houses on the Beltline or Alpine Ave., NorthStar offers affordable admission and concession pricing. Here, a date night or family night out at the movies won’t break the bank. They even offer fresh, hot popcorn with real butter added at no additional charge! With a friendly staff, comfortable seating along with great legroom, and lots of adjacent parking, what’s not to like?
Which now brings us to our thoughts on “Alice in Wonderland.” The movie features an outstanding ensemble cast of Mia Masikowska (Alice), Johnny Depp (the Mad Hatter), Anne Hathaway (the kind White Queen), and Helena Bonham Carter (the evil Red Queen) along with Crispin Glover (as the Red Queen’s henchman, the Knave of Hearts).
Featuring stunning visuals, the Lewis Carroll novel takes new form under the direction of Tim Burton, who loves to include Depp in his films. In this latest retelling of the story, Alice, now 19 years old, embarks on a fantastical journey to find her true destiny when she returns to the capricious world she first encountered as a young girl. There she reunites with her whimsical friends, the White Rabbit, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the Cheshire Cat, and of course, the Mad Hatter.
Who better to play the Mad Hatter than the madcap Johnny Depp? Depp never fails to amaze us with his over-the-top portrayals of such characters as Willy Wonka and Edward Scissorhands, to name two of many. The little dance of celebration he did toward the end of the movie was a sight to behold.
For Alice fans, yes, she slew the feared dragon beast, the “Jabberwocky” to end the evil Red Queens’ reign.
We loved the movie and apparently so did the predominately teenage demographic that filled the house that evening. Yes, the teens, and a surprising number of baby-boomer couples, gave the movie thunderous applause as the end credits rolled.
Now, we’re not movie critics, but we are certainly movie buffs. We’ve managed to view seven of this year’s 10 Oscar-nominated Best Pictures. Just as a good book is candy for the mind, it follows that a good movie is candy for the eye. We’re not trained in the fine intricacies and skills of acting and filmmaking, but we know a good movie when we see one, and “Alice in Wonderland” is one such movie.
We like the “eye candy” analogy. If we had a movie-rating scale, we would use four eyeballs instead of four stars. This PG-rated movie would rate a full three eyeballs and should be seen.