Thursday, March 11, 2010

Alice In Wonderland Version 8.0 The Tim Burton Edition

It's nice to see Tim Burton stay in the safe zone when it comes to most of his films. When Tim Burton takes risks with films such as Ed Wood and Big Fish, he succeeds beautifully. I enjoyed The Nightmare Before Christmas, though that was Henry Selick's work as well who also did the superb Coraline and a part of me feels that Burton likes to stay in his dark little corner where he feels the safest. He really hasn't grown since he's stayed in that corner since then. I was starting to see a change in that when he made films like Ed Wood, Big Fish and proved that he can do a dark musical like Sweeny Todd, but he seems to have slipped back into that corner with Alice In Wonderland. Be warned...this is nothing like the book at all, this also Tim Burton's vision of Wonderland.

The acting in the film has its strengths and weaknesses. The lead role of Alice, played by Mia Wachowski, who is perfect for her part. She's slightly awkward, a bit naive and has a little bit of spunk. However, I did find it annoying that she seemed to suffer from the Pale Complexion Disease that seems to be affecting certain film characters in Hollywood films lately (I am noting Edward from the Twilight Saga, if you can call that hot mess a saga, and The White Queen in this film as well). This Alice plays herself out as a victim at first but throughout the entire film we see her mature into a young woman. Wachowski plays this part beautifully with all of the doubt and a little bit of gentle subtlety that young adults tend to have when they're trying to sort out their lives. The supporting cast which consisted of Alan Rickman, Crispin Glover and Stephen Fry played their respective roles well and the viewer could obviously tell that they had a lot of fun playing their roles. Stephen Fry as the Cheshire Cat seemed to enjoy his role immensely and it shows in the tone of his voice. The same goes for Rickman who plays the Caterpillar (at least we know what Professor Snape's really up to every time he opens the door to his office and smoke starts to come out). Glover seems to enjoy his role the most as Stayne, being as wacky and evil as he can possibly be and pulling it off without being hammy.

The weaknesses in the acting are also notable as well. For one Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter seems like a perfect fit when it is on paper but in execution it is a trainwreck. Depp seems to jump back and forth between Captain Jack Sparrow, Pepe Le Pew and Sweeny Todd when he plays this part. Again it sounds awesome in paper but it is a trainwreck when executed. I also found Anne Hathaway a little weak and over-the-top as the White Queen. I understand that the White Queen is supposed to be gentle, but her hand movements in the film brought her acting into the "camp" territory. Let's not forget Helena Bonham-Carter as the Red Queen. She was great as the Red Queen, but I would have loved to seen someone else play the part instead of her. She was great in Sweeny Todd, but give the woman a break and let her play a different role. She seems to be stuck playing the same role ever since she came onto everyone's radar in Fight Club, although to give her credit she played a different role in Big Fish.

The world of Alice In Wonderland is gorgeous and imaginative. It has the wonderful blend of realistic and animated and still captures the beauty of Carroll's work. This is also a weakness.

Tim Burton could've taken a page from the James Cameron Book of Making Money by filming this movie using 3-D film. Burton apparently tore that page, skimmed through it and ate it because he did not do this. If anything he could've made a little bit more money doing this, maybe the God known as Mickey Mouse was not pleased with this idea, after all the recession hit Disney pretty hard and they have to cut some corners to save money (Although they still made millions in profits, maybe it's from whoring out High School Musical and Miley Cyrus). At any rate Burton could have taken advantage of filming this movie in 3-D and the world he created would have been more accessible and enjoyable for the audience. When the movie (non 3-D) was put into 3-D, the screen was blurry and only a few things popped out on screen.

Again this is nothing like the books, but it's interesting to see that they decided to take the Alice as a an adult woman approach who ends up growing up while in Wonderland or Underland as they called it in the film. I do have to give this film some credit for at least paying tribute to the original film in some ways.

My overall feeling of this film is while I enjoyed seeing it, it's not Burton's best work and he could have done so much better. The film seems rushed and a little bit disorganized but at least Burton gives what the audience wants in his films, a weird and magical world with Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham-Carter in outfits that can be found at your local Hot Topic and that is just sad.

Tim Burton, if by some weird, off-hand chance that you are reading this review, please make a different type of film. You have proven that you can and successfully (not counting Planet Of The Apes).

As for everyone else, see this one at your own risk.

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