I went in doubtful and left completely stunned by the spectacle!
I went into this movie expecting a terrible story and awful CG and design based on what I'd seen in the trailer. While the story was your basic 'Good vs. Evil' theme and the plot was painfully predictable at times, I was captivated throughout the entire movie by the mere spectacle of 3D effects. I normally cringe when I notice 3D effects in films and up until now had been a strong opponent of most Motion Capture applications (i.e. Polar Express, Beowulf, & Christmas Carol), but James Cameron has taken performance capture to the next level--so much so that I was forced to accept these pony-tailed Cat-Smurfs as legitimate characters that I could relate to and wanted to care about. My only regret walking out of the theater was that the rest of this year's slate of films would not have had the opportunity yet to employ this new technology and as a result would be left wanting.
Alice in Wonderland (2010)
Burton delivers Burton but no real "heart" in his Alice in Wonderland.
While Tim Burton can always promise his unique sense of style and aesthetic in every cinematic endeavor he undertakes, he rarely produces work that has real "heart". Such is the case for his version of Alice in Wonderland. Where the movie really succeeds is in it's rich costuming and set dressing as well as stellar performances by Burton's real-life wife, Helena Bonham Carter who plays the large headed Red Queen as well as Mia Wasikowska who plays Alice. The film's character design closely mimics the creepy illustrations (which are in alignment with Burton's creepy sensibility) from Lewis Carrol's original publishing of the book done by John Tenniel. I'm typically a huge Johnny Depp fan but just like his performance in the recent Charlie & the Chocolate factory, I think he missed the mark with this overcooked (<--speaking of his look) and underdone (<--speaking of his acting choices) character. Most of the other characters fell flat and Crispin Glover (Back to the Future & Beowulf) was just as creepy as he is in almost every role he's ever played. As far as special effects and CG, I suspected my recent viewing of Avatar would colored my view of this movie and I indeed found the "Phantom Menace" CG sets too unreal and "video-game-like" to suspend my belief. Also, I think that the choice to make the film 3D was more of a marketing afterthought (my assumption is based on the fact that all the 3D was done in post-production) and ironically most of it fell flat for me literally speaking. I would not recommend this movie to kids under 12 based on some of the more gruesome (although not really graphic) visuals having to do with beheading and the like. Having ripped the movie a new one, I don't hesitate to recommend adding this to your Netflix queue. There were some great scenes and moments throughout that I really did enjoy and the storyline is much closer to the original books than the original Disney cartoon was. However, don't expect the same warm fuzzy feeling that other movies under the Disney name have given audiences throughout the years. If you're a Tim Burton fan I recommend seeing it at the IMAX in 3D, otherwise I'd wait 12 weeks for the DVD release.
Great start to what I know will be an addictive show. I really thought the end was a smart way to end the pilot episode. I can see that a lot of history is going to unfold throughout the remainder of the season, but I hope that each episode manages to keep us intrigued with uncovering the phenomenon befalling our hero without too many tangents stemming from each episode's subplot. Kevin McKidd is great as the confused but willing Dan Vasser who finds himself patching up the past and learning about himself in the process. We find out early that Dan has lost the love of his life, Livia, played by Moon Bloodgood to a tragic plane accident. Dan's brother, Jack, it is implied, once dated Dan's now wife Katie, played by Gretchen Egolf. I sincerely hope this project lives up to the excellent concept.