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Friday, March 12, 2010

Regarding Alice

Just like when Coraline was released, I am here to counter Ezra's unwarranted generosity towards Alice in Wonderland.

Let's start with the title, because it pretty much sums up what is wrong with this movie. The title, like the movie, is a complete cop out. It's Burton's lazy attempt to fool people into thinking that "he's at it again" by remaking one of the most iconic animated films of all time. This movie is not a remake of Lewis Carroll's "Alice In Wonderland", but an imagining of a sequel.

So why not just call it something else. I mean, it's not like the studios would have allowed New Moon to be called Twilight. It doesn't make any goddamn sense.

Not only is the movie not the story of "Alice in Wonderland", the characters specifically state that the world in which it takes place is not called Wonderland, but Underland. So even if it wasn't based on the sequel, it would still be incorrect to call it that, because Wonderland is not actually a place - by that logic it should be called Alice in Underland.

Let's move on.

The number one key to an enjoyable film is a likable main character. Tim Burton knows this, because he's given us so many in the past. Yet we're given an Alice who is bored with her life, and for the majority of the film, doesn't care about what's going on because she is convinced it is a dream. If she doesn't care, are we supposed to care? In fact, the only time we see her smile in the entire movie is when someone tells her to smile.

There are two enjoyable characters. The most enjoyable is a dog named Bayard, voiced by Timothy Spall. The only reason I like him is because he acts like a dog, and I like dogs. I was frustrated though, to see that he spends most of his time taking orders from Alice he doesn't agree with. That's too bad. The other person I liked was Helena Bonham Carter's character, The Red Queen. You know Tim Burton did something wrong when the antagonist, the person you are not supposed to like is more likable than the protagonist.

The third act of this movie exhibits the most blatant and irritating Deus Ex Machina I've seen in a long time. The sheer laziness of this only reflects how much this movie truly failed.

I don't want to nitpick the movie to death (that is a lie), so I'll throw out one more thing that has been bothering me since Burton's disaster Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; essentially, the prostitution of Johnny Depp. Tim Burton has turned one of the most talented and likable actors in Hollywood into a vehicle for his weirdness. The Mad Hatter is not funny. Like Depp's Willy Wonka, he is creepy and strange. He is given years worth of backstory, yet it is all rushed and squished into a tiny flashback that doesn't last more than a minute and a half. It's an insult to the character of the Mad Hatter himself, an insult to Depp, and worst of all, and insult to Carroll.

What I wouldn't give to see Tim Burton do something original again. His constant "daring" new remakes just seem to falter. Sure, Sweeny Todd was good, but you'd really have to be an idiot to mess that one up. I long to see something like Edward Scissorhands or Big Fish again. I know he's got the imagination for it. He's holding himself back by not doing what he does best.

The only reason I give this movie a 2 instead of a 1 is for the visuals. They are, I cannot deny, spectacular. However, we live in an age where almost every movie's visuals are spectacular. It is simply not enough anymore. The Transformers franchise has taught us this. You need a coherent story and well developed and likable characters.

Come on Tim, I know you know this.

2 stars


Anonymous said...

You know Wilder Shaw did something wrong when he used antagonist twice in the same sentence.

Haven't seen it yet, but from what I hear it really isn't worth it.

Wilder Shaw said...

Ahhh, woops, thanks for catching me on that.

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