Monday, March 15, 2010

Alice in Wonderland - Curiouser and curiouser…

by: Erin Stephens

This was my first 3-D experience and I couldn’t have chosen a better film. Needless to say Tim Burton (director) set the bar high, Alice in Wonderland was a joy to experience. The film is not a duplicate of the book or animated feature. The story follows nineteen-year-old Alice as she flees from the expectations of her friends and family, only to find herself in Wonderland where she has new expectations to live up to and different things pulling her in all directions, literally and figuratively. Burton did not disappoint, his style and aesthetic definitely was enhanced by the 3-D technology. The scenes were extremely fresh; the colors in the wardrobe, make-up and setting were rich and bright creating the perfect template for experiencing the wonderment of Wonderland.

The movie did not follow any stories previously written, this was an excellent way to use the already developed characters to build a new story for all to enjoy. However for the viewers that have read Lewis Carroll’s works, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, can be assured that the essence of the stories are still intact. The film incorporated aspects of the books into the storyline, such as the Jabberwocky, which gave it a genuine feel. Also, the characters from the novels were authentically portrayed. The film did a wonderful job of developing the characters, especially Alice, in a way that seemed seamless and effortless, as well as true to the character created by Carroll. The essence of the story, as well as the masterful directing, created the perfect base for a marvelously artful film. But, it would not have been complete without the great performances by the entire cast. Every player portrayed their character with such mastery I could write pages on each performance, however, I will limit myself to the exceptional ones.

Between Johnny Depp (Mad Hatter) and Helena Bonham Carter (Red Queen), I’m not sure which one stole more scenes. Both were so engrossed in their characters they were almost unrecognizable. Depp was phenomenal, from his hair and make-up (which changed colors!) to his swinging pendulum of emotional outburst he WAS the Mad Hatter. He created a character that was kooky and endearing all at once, you will want to keep from blinking, so not to miss a moment of him. Bonham Carter brings the same type of an all-encompassing performance in her portrayal of the Red Queen. The viewers are torn between pity and disgust as she tyrannically rules Wonderland in her efforts to find adoration from her subjects. Anne Hathaway played the other royal character, the White Queen, she moved and spoke with such an extreme amount of grace and sweetness it was completely whimsical, almost overwhelmingly so. As for Alice, newcomer Mia Wasikowska effortlessly portrayed her as the curious, questioning, presumptuous girl that was created by Carroll. Her frankness and stubbornness was ideal, as well as cleverly placed and disturbed throughout the film in order to fully develop her character. Also, all of the voice actors were perfectly cast and articulated beautifully.

Overall, this was a great film, plain and simple. Tim Burton took a classic story of silliness and nonsense and transformed it into a film that is not only pleasing to the eye and entertaining, but kept the heart of Lewis Carroll’s story beating. The idea that thinking differently and seeing things for not what they are, but what they could be, can be extremely rewarding.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Shutter Island - You'll never leave this island

by: Erin Stephens

I love to watch all types of movies, but I especially love the movies that require a second watch in order to be truly appreciated. Shutter Island is definitely one of those films! It’s set in 1954 and follows two US Federal Marshals as they investigate the disappearance of a patient in a mental hospital for the criminally insane. Martin Scorsese (director) is a master behind the camera. He created elegantly intense scenes using simple, but unique camera angles, coupled with an astounding musical score that kept the viewers on the edge of their seats from the first frame.There was an air of mystery woven through out the film, the audience kept questioning what was truth, what was a ploy, who do you believe? Teddy Daniels (Leonard DiCaprio), the protagonist, seemed to be the only person that the viewers could ultimately trust, because the story was being told from his perspective. He took the audience on a quest through the vast grounds of the island, from trekking in the wilderness to lurking through the halls of the fortified ward C. The scenery and extensive details to the set strengthen the film, especially in coordination with the perfectly articulated script. Another aspect of the film that added mystery were Daniels’ memory flashes. They were artfully placed and assisted in the unfolding of the twisted plot.

As for the acting performances, DiCaprio was amazing! His portrayal of the tormented US Marshal Daniels was phenomenal. He developed a bond of trust through acts of genuine sincerity for justice and morality. This was a crucial part of film. The other notable performance was Sir Ben Kingsley as Dr. Crawley. He created a man with such smooth, suave charisma he was almost untrustworthy, however he had enough compassion and care for his patients the viewers want to believe and trust him.

This film was definitely created for a viewer that appreciates the see-saw of emotions as well as the opportunity to generated a load of conspiracy theories on how the plot will pan out. It will most assuredly keep you guessing and questioning while on the edge of your seat holding your breath! It is Scorsese, so there is a bit of vulgar language and some graphic scenes. Overall, it is a MUST watch film!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Seeking local movie critics!

Many professional critics get to see movies for free... But we don't! Which means our Movie Madness blog has been bare lately.

If you would like to submit a movie review at any time, email it to

No reviews will be accepted more than two weeks after the movie's release date. All ages are welcome to participate. The decision to publish or not publish a submission is strictly up to our discretion.