Monday, April 5, 2010

Weeks Too Late: Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland. Directed by Tim Burton & Written by Linda Woolverton (screenplay).

Preconceptions: Well, my little cupcakes, it's no surprise that I've been anxiously awaiting the new Alice in Wonderland movie. And not just because 16 year old me would be dancing for joy at all the tie in merchandise (lacy gloves and befeathered hats, you say?). Though I do admit that part of the excitement came from the knowledge that 16 year old me would have loved the idea of Tim Burton working on a creative property that 6 year old me liked.

Look at tiny me:
Of course I would have loved this years ago.

And just so we're clear, my cohort with more refined tastes would have loved it too:

But despite the endorsement of young me I wasn't entirely gung-ho. I'm well aware that edgy teen versions of story book characters have long since peeked (not that I can think of much except Lost Girls that I really enjoyed it in). However, no matter how hackneyed an idea is, I'm usually willing to give it a go when it's done by creative teams I like (and how many teams do I really enjoy as much as Burton, Depp and Carter?).

General Review
: Oh that was fun. No shocker that a movie by Tim Burton was visually entertaining. It was nice to see him working in such a colourful palate again. As much as he does the dread and doom well, I think I prefer it when he's not just using black and red (though don't get me wrong, there is a lot of black and red). I don't know whether or not it was a supposed to be a direct sequel to Disney's 1951 animated movie but there are a number of nice design touches that tie the two together. The look of the March Hare and the talking garden for two.

Lets talk 3D. Avatar won me over to the idea that 3D didn't just have to be a cheap gimmick but could have merit on it's own. It was, in fact, in the trailers before Avatar that I saw the 3D ad for Alice. It seemed like the perfect sort of movie to utilize 3D (I seem to be saying 3D over and over again. Perhaps I'm getting paid by the mention...of 3D?). I was also curious to see what one of my favourite directors would do with the technology. Unfortunately, it was a huge let down. It was the slap dash bid to get more kids interested nonsense that I feared from 3D initially. It was blurry, didn't make use of the possibilities to make a scene look larger, or even do any really cool smoke effects with the Cheshire Cat. And it gave me a headache. This is one movie that you should see in flat.

Alright, because I can't hold off any longer, lets talk about the cast. Burton would have had to try awfully hard to find a cast that would delight me more (maybe squeeze Carey Elwes into the movie, somehow). Both Stephen Fry and Alan Rickman have those resonating voices that add to the mysterious characters of the Cheshire Cat and Caterpillar. Fry also captures the playfulness I imagined reading the books as a little girl.

I was all settled in to sigh and fawn over Depp's Mad Hatter when something strange happened. He and Crispin Glover (being the Knave of Hearts) would both be in a scene and I found myself more interested in Glover. Ew! A few bracing slaps to the face later and it was still no good. Crispin Glover was attractive in this, somehow. And to add insult to injury, more attractive than Johnny Depp. I wish I could say I was alone in my perversion, but I was not. Others felt the same way (though this time the feeling was not shared by my cohort). Shudderful.

Despite the obvious sinister mind control perpetrated by Glover, Johnny Depp didn't let the panting nerd girls down. I don't want to talk about a cool blockbuster movie as though it was high art, but there was something a bit wistful and memorable about his performance as the Hatter. I've noticed that when they work together Depp and Burton do something that I like (besides making out with Helena Bonham Carter): there is no specific romance scene between two of the characters, no mention of romance, but somehow the feel of the romance shines through. I was still thinking about it the next day, not something I often find myself doing about any aspect of big popcorn movies.

Alice in Wonderland was a good time almost all around. Just remember not to see it in 3D (pst...3D).

Random Thoughts: I don't know why the Red and White Queens seemed to be Queen Elizabeth and Mary Queen of Scotts in Alice, but I quite liked it.

Everyone do the Anne Hathaway:

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