Sunday, March 14

Review: Alice in Wonderland

I was probably the last person on Earth to hear that Tim Burton was gonna do an Alice in Wonderland film. My first reaction was the same as everybody's: HOLY SHIT! Really?!? Man, this is gonna be amazing!


Oh, how wrong I was.

Before I start spilling crap all over this movie, let's get one thing straight: I Love Tim Burton. I love his weird Caligari-like sets, I love his use of pretty colors, I love his best friend/wife duo as actors. And thus far, I've loved damn near all his movies (Ed Wood was good but not THAT good). I even loved Sleepy Hollow which apparently everybody hated. So how could he have fucked up so bad with such great source material?

I think the main problem is that the film has one of the worst scripts I have EVER seen adapted on screen. Honestly. The dialogues are corny and sometimes pretty moralistic, there is this stupid emotional moment that really break the atmosphere and the "new" angle isn't nearly as interesting as you might think. Every good joke, interesting cameo and well-placed line is repeated at least once. I'm not kidding: even with such great characters they have to literally repeat jokes. But it's the cameo's that get especially bothersome. The caterpillar isn't that important to the plot, so why the fuck do you bring him back THREE TIMES? Oh wait, because you've paid Alan Rickman a fuckload of money and all the kids are like: "Ohmigod it is Snape!!!" (Seriously, I heard people say that at least three times at the theater).

But the biggest sin of the screenplay is how incredibly fucking schizophrenic it is. It meanders around between the colorful madness we all love so much about Tim Burton (the Mad Hatter at his tea party) and some kind of gritty battle-between-good-and-evil bullshit (the Mad Hatter with a motherfucking broadsword. Really). It meanders between a direct adaptation and a spinoff, so the lines that ARE directly from the novel feel weird and out of place. It meanders between completely straight-faced and taking the piss out of itself (the latter is by far the best, let me tell you). But it meanders the most in what it wants to do with its story.

If you have read the book you will know there is not really any narrative (if you haven't read the book: you can easily finish it in a weekend and it kicks ass). Alice just kind of walks around and encounters all kind of trippy shit. Burton decided to use this weird world to tell a story, which is probably a good idea. Weird shit is hard to stay entertaining for an hour and a half. The problem is that he is really inconsistent with this goal, and about half the film is still just random nonsense with the characters. Either telling a story or just trippy shit would have made a much better film, sadly.

Okay, maybe I'm being overly mean now. The movie isn't completely cringeworthy, of course: this is Tim Burton we're talking about, not Uwe Boll. The cinematography is really good (although some shots are completely pointless and only there for showing off the 3D, which made me sad), the music is top-notch as always and the CGI is subtle and actually functional. I haven't caught either Johnny Depp or Helena Bonham Carter ever acting bad, and they deliver as usual in this film. The girl who plays Alice is also pretty damn good and this was the first Anne Hattaway role I enjoyed watching. It is just a pity their lines are so damn stupid.

You're lucky they're not talking right now

I can't in good conscience call this a BAD movie, because it simply isn't. Burton is too good a director for that. But it was a huge letdown, especially considering the potential of the source material is his hands.

I have to add this to stay honest: I saw this movie with my whole family and they all enjoyed it a lot. So perhaps only the fans should skip this to not be disappointed. If you just want a good night out without giving it much thought, you could do worse than this, I guess. But also much, much better.


I was thinking about using White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane here. But then I listened to this song I had downloaded just before going to the movie. It fits almost creepily good. Also, this clip has some cute animation.

1 comment:

  1. That's maybe just the bad thing about having such an educated and fanatic look about movies, you just enjoy some movies less that "mainstream people" really like. Personally, I loved this movie (although I agree with the criticism on the shots just to show off the 3D, wich I though sucked..)
    I will have to compliment you on your beautiful English though, it's very pleasant to read! As you can read, mine is a lot less advanced.. But that's why my blog is not in English :P
    I don't completely agree with the soundtrack you chose, I think the movie is a lot more romantic en mysterious. But that's my opinion ;)
    Well, I will check your blog to see a post about Naked! ;)