Movie Reviews!

I recently got to see three movies I had been really excited about. So excited, in fact, that I had to share my thoughts with you, dear readers, in a departure from my usual book reviews.

I had big plans to take my mom to see both the new Sherlock Holmes and Avatar in theaters since their respective trailers looked so cool. The feature on 60 Minutes about James Cameron and his new movie also didn’t hurt.

Sadly, the big movie plans never happened. But I did get both movies on DVD, fairly quickly, from my place of employ. I’m sad to say that was the best part of the viewing experience for me and my mom.

Sherlock Holmes was fun but it didn’t really live up to any of the older movies featuring the brilliant detective. Jude Law was excellent as Watson while Robert Downey Jr. was a bit more himself than his character. He also looked really dissipated. And, honestly, the plot dragged on a bit too long. I think the movie might be a promising opener for a new, modern era of Sherlock Holmes movies which will return to more traditional stories and tropes (Sherlock is not a fighter, no matter what Guy Ritchie wants you to think) but given the vast departure here it seems unlikely.

Avatar was a bit easier to judge since I had no expectations as to what it would be. Visually the movie was stunning. The cinematography and CGI were truly impressive. But the plot was not original and, again being frank, it was way too long. It took us two days to watch it. Ultimately, it wasn’t too disappointing to miss either in theaters. I’m not even sure we could have made it through Avatar in an actual theater.

Then a couple weeks ago to celebrate my friend Jan’s birthday, I went with her and Nicole, The Book Bandit, to see Tim Burton’s new Alice in Wonderland in 3D. Let me start here by saying the last time I went to a 3D movie the theater was still giving out those paper glasses with the red plastic lenses. How far we have come! Even the glasses were cool! And they fit over my own glasses.

I had heard mixed reviews about the new Alice but I fell in love with a poster of Anne Hathaway as The White Queen and the new Cheshire Cat so I was optimistic even though Johnny Depp’s makeup as the Mad Hatter and Helena Bonham Carter’s bulbous head as the Red Queen did give me pause.

There was nothing to worry about! This movie was so good! Jan and Nicole had already seen it before and I can see how they didn’t mind seeing it again–I would totally see it again in a heartbeat. Everything was so layered and rich that I can see it being a new viewing experience every time. I don’t think the movie necessarily had to be 3D but the visuals were really neat, not too flashy.

As to the story, I loved it. I can see how people would be upset if they were expecting a faithful retelling of the Lewis Carroll story, but that’s not really what’s going on. It’s a sequel. What came after Alice first walked through the looking glass, if you will. (In this way the movie is similar to the Sci-Fi channel miniseries Alice with Caterina Scorsone–also super good.) I loved all of the actors and the characters. The story was charming and the movie itself was quite simply beautiful.

I was particularly fond of Anne Hathaway’s character. I want to start fluttering around like her and I have a mad desire to dress up as the White Queen for Halloween even though I never go to Halloween parties and probably can’t really pull it off–I loved her that much.

Anyway, there were definitely two duds. But Alice in Wonderland definitely made up for it and reminded me how much fun it can be to go to see movies in a movie theater when you can.