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Alice In Wonderland (2010)

March 15th, 2010 by unkle lancifer · 13 Comments

Maybe it’s just beyond the capabilities of mankind to produce a truly faithful film adaptation of LEWIS CARROLL’s phantasmic nonsense dispenser ALICE IN WONDERLAND. Many have tried and many have failed. At best you usually end up with something that resembles a very long Ronald McDonaldland commercial and at worst you find yourself confronted by the never should be spoken in the same breath talents of SHERMAN HEMSLEY and CAROL CHANNING. You’d think that marrying director TIM BURTON to the material would be the perfect solution but then you remember that BURTON is a “genius” which is code for, “no longer has the ability to self-edit.” I’ve always thought that the best, most faithful realization of CARROLL‘s vision could be found in the inserts created by JIM HENSON for the underappreciated 1985 film DREAMCHILD and really, the new DISNEY doused incarnation of Wonderland does little to challenge my theory.

As much as BURTON can be relied upon to deliver impressive visuals, you can also bet on the fact that the story is going to be as directionless as a windup toy and that he will inject at least one scene that is off the charts embarrassing (can you say victory break dance?) 2010’s ALICE IN WONDERLAND is at times, splendid to behold but the constant clashing of styles, tone, texture and perspective can be headache inducing as well. For me, the lush, organic exteriors worked the best, whereas the more synthetic looking interiors held no weight at all. There is some beautiful stuff to take in for sure but at some point I do believe my eyeballs just started feeling queasy. You know there’s a problem if you start entertaining the idea of shoving Alka-Seltzer tablets into your retinas. Between you and me though, as tacky as the Spencer’s gift shop aesthetic can sometimes be, I’d be lying if I didn’t at times think that the film would be fun to watch with my long lost college girlfriend Mary Jane.

Operating for the most part as an unofficial sequel, ALICE finds our once curiouser and curiouser moppet about to potentially loose herself to a loveless marriage at the age of 19. (Alice is played by the pretty and pouty MIA WASIKOWSKA…hey, didn’t KATHLEEN TURNER star in a movie about her once?) Props are deserved for the all too rare, girl-power message. Alice gets the chance to yield a sword and slay a dragon (or Jabberwocky) and rather than simply let that stand as a physical act of strength, it’s also made clear that she is fighting to keep her imagination and sense of self alive. I just wish that theme could have been better sewn throughout the entire tale rather than just cushioning the beginning and ending like a pair of fluffy earmuffs. Instead, the force fed creamy center of this tasty cake is plagued by a backlash-baiting JOHNNY DEPP whose Mad Hatter character seems hell bent on claiming the spotlight as his own. JOHNNY is yet another “genius” who needs to get a grip. His performance is so uneven and inconsistent that you get the idea that he approached the role based on passing daily whims. (Sorry, but DEPP‘s “work” in ALICE makes his MARY TYLER WONKA routine seem understated and controlled.)

On the hit-the-nail-on-the-head front, ALAN RICKMAN, as the blue caterpillar, is spot on, STEPHEN FRY as the Cheshire Cat is a welcome relief whenever he materializes and LITTLE BRITAIN’s MATT LUCAS makes an equally convincing Tweedledee as he does a Tweedledum. I have to say though, how dare anyone cast CRISPIN GLOVER in an ALICE IN WONDERLAND film and not give HIM the part of the Mad Hatter? What kinda hooka smoke makes you do that? I know DEPP is a major selling point but c’mon BURTON and DISNEY, you can afford to take a hit to the wallet for the sake of art every once in a while. In addition I’d just like to add, and I don’t mean to sound rude here, I think HELENA BONAM CARTER is seriously one of the most beautiful women who has ever graced the Earth but does she really need that much CGI help in the big head department? Not from where I’m standing.

I guess if I had kids I would probably drag them to see this; regardless, it’s not the worst movie ever made, it just happens to play like a mixed tape of over worked KIDZ BOP cover songs. I suppose I should give BURTON credit for playing against his darker more gothic instincts but when the alternative is so loud and Easter pastel garish, I’m not so sure. This is your fault JIM HENSON, you should have gone to the doctor’s for regular check-ups! That way, both ALICE and I may have someday gotten the movie we deserved.

NOTE: Rather than check out the overseen trailer for BURTON‘s film, let’s take a look at some of Alice’s earlier trips down the rabbit hole. Some work better than others but they are all, as they should be, very kindertraumatic.

TIP: The above video has no sound so play it simultaneously with the music video below (you might need to play the music video twice as it’s shorter) and remember: feed your head!

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13 responses so far ↓

  • 1 DavidFullamNo Gravatar // Mar 15, 2010 at 9:52 am

    Dreamchild is one truly moving film. Beautifully made, incredibly depressing. One of the best films that no one has ever seen.

  • 2 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Mar 15, 2010 at 10:20 am

    DF,

    Dreamchild is a great movie and the creature design in it is just incredible. 
    which reminds me of another problem I have with both Burton’s new take and the old animated Disney version of Alice…where the hell is the Mock Turtle?
    The mock turtle is my favorite character!
    He reminds me of one of the replicants in Blade Runner
    I think he may be the fifth one. He’s very depressed about not being real.
    plus Cary Grant played him in the 1933 version!

  • 3 lottie_of_millhavenNo Gravatar // Mar 15, 2010 at 10:22 am

    The Alice in Wonderland novels are without a doubt my favorite books of all time, in fact, almost everything I write is to some degree inspired by them.  That being said, I have a soft spot for film adaptation (my favoite being the trippy surrealist version by Ian Svankmeyer).  I haven’t seen Burton’s yet, but I plan to.

  • 4 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Mar 15, 2010 at 10:25 am

    Lottie,

    I think Svankmeyer’s is the scariest version. I almost put a clip up for that one but the white rabbit upsets me. he looks like roadkill.

  • 5 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Mar 15, 2010 at 10:36 am

    Ok here it is but I’m not watching it! yikes look at his teeth!

  • 6 DavidFullamNo Gravatar // Mar 15, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Seriously, you have to have the Mock Turtle!

  • 7 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Mar 15, 2010 at 11:35 am

    Do they think the Mock turtle is too depressing? They let that Debbie Downer Eyore from Winnie the pooh roam around unchecked all the time! 

    Plus, when mock turtle is out of work so too is the griffin, inexcusable!

    Oh and Disney, I don’t think throwing Mock & Griff a (black and white!) jell-o commercial compensation prize quite makes up for the slight.
    It’s really an insult. I feel a petition coming on!

  • 8 JergyNo Gravatar // Mar 15, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    I think what bothers me most about seeing Burton take this on is that it’s 2010. This seems to me like something Burton should have  done in 1992. It doesn’t feel this this is expanding his abilities as a director at all.

  • 9 stabbalotNo Gravatar // Mar 15, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    I loved this movie but quite enjoyed your review. Also, Dreamchild is an awesome film. Really awesome. I think I own an old issue of Starlog with an article about it. I’d offer to scan but yeah, it could be on Pluto for all I know.

  • 10 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Mar 17, 2010 at 8:28 am

    Stabby,

    Most the folks I appreciate adored this movie too! I can’t say I didn’t have a good time but later I was left with the feeling that it could have been so much better! Anyway, I kinda hated Sleepy Hollow when it first came out and now I watch it almost seasonally! I’m starting to think that movies are like people an you just have to accept their flaws. This one is a sorta pretty under achiever that’s fun to hang out with but I wouldn’t suggest moving in with.

  • 11 led tv irelandNo Gravatar // Feb 17, 2011 at 3:20 am

    Alice in Wonderland is a very excellent movie. The movie passed without me blinking, there was no dull moment what so ever. By the time it reached signs of the “end” I asked myself, has it been 5 minutes yet? The movie puts you in a very interesting world with strange places and characters. The music in this film was the best music I’ve heard in a movie in a long time. The acting was amusing and little details about the characters’ personalities was made in a very smart fashion that will keep you entertained through out the movie.

  • 12 Victoria OverturfNo Gravatar // Feb 19, 2011 at 3:30 am

    Do any of? you guys notice her hair changing.It goes from orange to yellow.

  • 13 lcd tvNo Gravatar // Mar 2, 2011 at 4:49 am

    In latest one Alice looks much older than before too.

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