Thursday, July 8, 2010

Movie Review - Alice in Wonderland

Alice In Wonderland
Alice in Wonderland takes place a little over ten years after the first alice in wonderland story. Which they don't tell you right away and touch little upon throughout the story. It begins with her father telling her she is crazy but all the best people are when she is younger and then it moves right to her being a teenager and a party is thrown so that she can take the hand of a rich lord's son in marriage. During this party she sees a rabbit and follows it down a rabbit hole leaving the son and everyone else standing at the 'altar'. Down the hole she goes and finds the small door, the growing/shrinking food and drink and exactly like the book messes around until she figures out how to go through the door.
Now the movie takes off running a bit too fast for the viewer to really grasp much.
She meets a few characters all at once without much description other than names and they tell her she is back and are curious if she is THE alice. It has been shown on this scroll that she kills the Jabberwockey.
So now we are away from the book a lot. Leaving people a little confused. Don't start the movie as the book and then veer so that it takes places years after.
Then the movie goes really fast and they are attacked by a monster dog creature and we see a lot of the land's imagery and loud music and she gets away. She meets the catepillar, then apparently the star and sole focus of the movie, the Mad Hatter.
We are introduced to so many things and events and back and forths that the story is pretty much non existant. With everyone talking so fast and in so many odd accents its also hard to keep up or understand what is going on anyways.
The Hatter helps her escape from being hunted down by the playing cards and she goes on a quest to save the Hatter from the evil queen of hearts.
I am a huge Tim Burton fan. I love all of his movies, from his start with Pee-wee's big adventure, on through batman,batman returns, beetlejuice, mars attacks, ed wood, charlie and the chocolate factory, edward scissorhands, big fish, nightmare before christmas, corpse bride, and even though i haven't seen it yet Sweeney Todd.
He just has a certain dark artistic style that I find amazing and really fuels my ideas to be creative. But everytime he does a remake of a movie, he screws it up. Take Planet of the Apes. I haven't seen it yet but from the collective opinions of all human sucked.
So he tries his hand at a classic. What I expected was a dark, twisted, almost frightening Wonderland story and what I got was what seemed like Tim almost selling out to Disney. I could see echoes of things that he maybe wanted to try to go with but Disney may have reigned him in a bit so it would appeal to more kids.
The story was almost nonexistant, what they gave you was a basic idea so you could follow the series of events that followed. Which was pretty much, save Hatter and kill the Jabberwockey. It didn't handle the first even well and dropped it completely after a few minutes. I think it would have done better maybe slowing the movie down and not trying to cram so much in. It was almost as if it had Avatar syndrome. Have your audience wowed and distracted by the visuals and all the pretty colors and images so they didn't notice that they had no idea what was going on.
It was an interesting idea of having her return to wonderland but it was executed poorly. Why have her go back if she doesn't remember the place at all from the other time? And according to the book, it was all a daydream anyways while she was sitting under a tree. So would the characters remember her? or is she making that up in her head? Was this movie another daydream? All of the events in it prove that it wasn't which sort of messes up the orignal a bit. Which in this case, why did he choose to call it Alice in Wonderland? Why not Return to Wonderland, or just plainly Wonderland? But seeing the extreme hoaring of Johnny Depp I'm surprised they didn't call it Mad Hatter's Wonderland Excitement. The Hatter is on all the movie posters and most, the sole focus.....on the dvd cover, on the back of the dvd, pushed a lot in the trailers, and look on the posters and dvd...what does it say? Johnny Depp in Alice in Wonderland.
I honestly dont think they needed his name and face all over everything to sell the movie. People are going to buy it regardless, its a well known title and its Disney.
Another thing was I dont think they should have said right away that she was going to kill the Jabberwockey....then the end is very anticlimactic and it takes all the suspense away from it. You know she is going to kill it, its already been written on the scroll and brought up like 13,000 times during the movie so when she does encounter it you know she is in no real danger.
Almost through the whole movie I felt almost a bored sensation like I was waiting for something to happen that never did. It was nice to see him actually show the past time she was there as a little girl but that scene was so quick I doubt anyone really understood it fully. And it further messed with the story and the sense of the thing. I would've taken it out.
There was way too much useage of CGI as well. Johnny Depp's eyes were digitally made bigger and oddest of all was Crispin Glover (helloooo, mcfly!!) his entire body was cgi. Yes, his whole body, all they used was his motion captured performance and his head.
It was a decent attempt but the movie was just too scattered and messy.
I would guess that most people either got distracted by the visuals or nowadays since they pay so much to see a movie, a lot of people dont feel right saying anything is bad because they paid and dont want to say they wasted money.
Oh and i'm sure 3D had something to do with it of course.
Lastly, the relationship between alice and mad hatter got a bit too creepy and odd. I know for a fact i'm not the only one that thought they were going to kiss at the end. It was handled too much and it just made it seem like they fell in love and she was going to stay in wonderland to be his mad bride. Got a little weird. The hatter is mad, crazy, and never really leaves his tea party and they changed that whole dynamic and gave him a huge part with a different personality and feelings and love and all that. Probably because it was Johnny Depp and you dont just use him for a couple scenes i guess.
I think it may be time for Burton to get a new cast too. How many of his movies have Johnny Depp for cryin out loud.
I say see it just to see it but dont go in expecting anything or any real ties to the book.
Hard to decide but i am going with a split...
A few imaginative ideas
Good idea of returning to Wonderland
Big name actors to voice the catapiller and jabberwockey
Nice to see Crispin Glover still acting
Convoluted, messy, scattered story
Poorly executed
Anticlimactic ending
Way too fast pace which made a lot not make sense or understandable
Mad Hatter takeover
Cast of Depp and Helena Bonham Carter are getting tired, i know she is your girlfriend but seriously..
Barely tried to associate with the book
Nice try Burton but I say stick with your style. Dark, artistic, unique movies. I'm still a fan but maybe a little more hesitant now.
Here's looking to your next film.

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