ALICE IN WONDERLAND
Alice in Wonderland is a
film that. on the surface, would seem perfect for Tim Burton's
sensibilities. Although the fact that Burton, known for his
stunning sets, chose to film in an almost entirely green screen
environment was an early warning sign that this would not please
all his fans.
|It's obvious that something has changed
when Burton (who has always stressed the importance of an opening
credits sequence setting the tone for a movie) chooses to start Alice right into the movie. The opening in Victorian
London is competently handled and feels like a standard period
costume film. The contrast with the arrival in Wonderland would have worked
even better if these opening scenes had been in 2D. However, the
journey down the rabbit hole is still an impressive sequence.
When Alice begins to meet all the
familiar characters the film is at its most fun, even if many of
the characters, such as Tweedledum and Tweedledee and Stayne
(Crispin Glover's head stuck on a CG body) are embarrassingly
In fact, as pretty as the visuals are, they all have
an artificial quality that looks even worse in the 2D version of
the film. Never before has Burton relied so much on CG, and it
does his vision no favours. Luckily, the talented voice cast
(which includes Michael Sheen as the white rabbit, Stephen Fry as
the Cheshire Cat and Alan Rickman as the caterpillar) help make
the animal characters feel slightly more real.
From here on
the plot becomes even more predictable. The standard big battle
at the end is without peril and Alice defeats the jabberwocky
(voiced by the underused Christopher Lee) too quickly and
easily. Alice does look very fetching in her armour, though.
of the Queen of Hearts, where she interrogates her toads to find
out which one ate her tarts, is a hoot. The Mad Hatter, despite
his prominence in the marketing, is introduced quite late in the
film. The tea party scene, which should be the highlight of the
film, is less memorable than in the original animated movie.
All that's left is a girl power coda
back in England and, the final insult, an Avril Lavigne over the
end credits (why, Timmy, why?). Even more so than Planet of
the Apes, this is an anti-septic adventure that ends just as
it's getting interesting.
To sum up the good parts: the cast is
effective - Mia Wasikowska (who threatens to lose both her clothes
and the film's PG rating whenever she grows and shrinks) is fine
if a little bland as Alice, though making her 19 is an odd choice
that robs the tale of much of its childlike wonder.
score is lovely and the costumes are fun. Beyond that, there isn't
much heart in the film. The remake/sequel idea reminds me most of
Steven Spielberg's Hook, though Alice isn't
quite as sappy and misguided. It's just depressing to see such an
idiosyncratic director make such a bland, dare I say "Disneyfied"
movie. And the less said about the Hatter's (long-awaited)
futterwack dance the better.
qualms, which were shared by many critics, the film rode the post-Avatar
3D wave to over $1 billion at the worldwide box office, proving
once again that Burton knows how to please audiences (and Hot
|Johnny Depp is
just doing his shtick (including an accent that goes from lispy
English to Scottish to God knows what) but has some good moments,
such as when he quotes Lewis Carroll. Helena Bonham Carter has a
lot more fun in her role than Anne Hathaway as her sister, and the
supporting British cast is full of delightful actors (including
Michael Gough in his last role).
Continuing his streak of unoriginal
movies, Burton would next turn to a classic TV show adaptation
and a remake of one of his own movies.
CHAPTER: SWEENEY TODD
CHAPTER: DARK SHADOWS