Sunday, March 28, 2010

Alice in Wonderland (2010)


Years after her first venture, Alice (Mia Wasikowska) returns to Underworld in order to rescue it from the brutal ruling of the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter).

When I first walked out of the theater after having viewed Alice in Wonderland I was lost in a sea of thought. On the one hand I didn't hate it, as it managed to fully hold my attention and present me with a wonderful array of visuals. Yet, I knew at the time what I disliked about it, that was aching at the back of my head... several weeks later, those things have only become more prevailing and frustrating.

So, why should I care about what I review this movie so much? I mean, I don't let others affect my scores, so why care? Well, to be honest, just about everyone I know is an unabashed fanatic for at least half of the talent involved in this movie... myself included! And I have to say, there's few things harder than giving talent you greatly admire, and enjoy, a negative score. But, alas, I would be lying if I scored the movie in any other way.

To be frank, Alice in Wonderland is Avatar in terms of awe, and visual creativity. Yet its development, in terms of story, and character, are rivaled by Saturday morning cartoons for depth. We get a seemingly obligatory intro for each character. Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry) appears and goes poof, White Rabbit (Michael Sheen) hops in for a quick shot. Blue Catapillar (Alan Rickman) slides in for a drug addict paradise one-liner, and well same goes for just about everyone else.

In fact only four characters get any real screen time: Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) does his mad thing, throws a hat, gets a flashback, sheds a tear, and sneaks a longing eye at Alice (I'm thinking he wants to mate). The White Queen (Anne Hathaway) sneaks in, throws some quasi-moral line, makes a potion, and looks like a serial killer. So that leaves us with Alice and the Red Queen. Alice here is the same as she's always been. Ignorant, kind-hearted, but dedicated, and strong. A solid, well rounded, female character, who, despite being the centerfold of the entire film, spends far too much of it running away from things, and not enough time addressing them.

The Red Queen is a solid villain, but far too forgettable. The whole "big" obsession never inspired a chuckle out of me, and stayed far longer than its welcome. What I really wanted was the movie to get into the story. To develop it, mold it, give me reason to love, and hate it. Breath life into it!

You see that's my favorite part of any film. Tim Burton can always catch my eye with visuals, but whether or not he can grip me with the story is always up in the air. Here, Alice in Wonderland is quirky, and goofy, signature Burton, but the story... well, there isn't much of one. We spend so much time on chase sequences, the film forgets to develop a plot. Something to really grab at us, make us hate the Red Queen, seek out justice, and fight for the White Queen! ... And Alice never delivers.

We see some vague hints at the Red Queen's injustice, but nothing concrete, or emotionally involving. So the movie comes down to whether or not white or red is more of your color. Personally, I'd rather wear red than white, but that's just me. I wanted more. I needed more. I needed to care. I never felt danger, or fear for their lives. And I never felt emotionally attached. I don't need that for every movie, but with the level of talent involved that's what I expected. Perhaps that was my mistake?

There's something unmistakeably charming about the movie. It walks that thin line between adult violence and grip, and childlike wonder and awe. The action scenes are well developed, and shine on a 3D setting (that debate is for another post entirely). So, I hold nothing against those who found themselves wrapped up in the world of Alice in Wonderland. I, unfortunately, am just not one of those people... despite desperately wishing I was.

Despite some impressive visual moments, Alice in Wonderland is a lackluster affair, with all the quirkiness you'd expect from Burton, but none of the heart, and subtext, you'd long for in such an offering venture.

6 better thoughts:

thistimeitwillbedifferent said...

I think most people have come to the same conclusion on this: great visuals do not a great story make. There's just something very... awkward, for want of a better word, about Alice - it never got anywhere close to being interesting or engaging enough for me and I must say, towards the end, I was beginning to get bored of being in Wonderland.

DEZMOND said...

well, his movies always had just the amazing "face" and no heart.

Ginger said...

I guess I would give it at least a 6 because it was entertaining. I wasn't bored with it but I do agree it could have been so much better

TheAnswerMVP2001 said...

Uit de aanhangwagen Ik neem aan dat dit niet een remake, maar meer als een Return To Oz versie van Alice in Wonderland correct? Ironisch genoeg is een van de weinige animatiefilms Ik hou is de originele Disney-versie van Alice in Wonderland, elke andere aanpassing lijkt erg lame zijn of zeer saai. Ik was eigenlijk naar uit te zien, maar toen het uit en ben ik begonnen met het lezen van de reviews was ik minder enthousiast en zal dus wachten totdat het DVD release.

Univarn said...

@thistime I wondered if my expectations were too high, but even if they weren't, I think my opinion wouldn't change much.

@Dez he's always 50/50 for me. When there's heart, Burton's a genius, but without it, he's just eye candy... Personally I'm too plain for that being enough, alone.

@Ging I thought about going 6, but the negative kept bugging me so I docked it some more points.

@MVP Yeah it's suppose to be based off of the second Alice in Wonderland book, but really it's more like Hook than anything.

The Floating Red Couch said...

AIW gives so many characters that could be so fun with more face time, but it settles into this boring quest schtick like every fantasy movie released int he last 10 years. I said it in my post, and I'll say it now: they should've just remade the stoopid thing rather than get all fancy with a sequel.

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