Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Alice in Wonderland

I just saw Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland in 3D. It was interesting. Going into it I was expecting it to be a bit like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, where he was making a movie of a well known story that was already a well known film, but not doing a remake of the film. If that run-on sentence makes sense.

This wasn't quite Burton's take on a classic tale though. It was more like a sequel.

Oh, this post will be full of spoilers BTW.

I expected it to be dark. Tim Burton is dark and Alice in Wonderland is pretty twisted subject matter. And it does make you wince. Quite a few creatures get stabbed in the eye, and at one point Alice has to enter the Red Queen's castle. A tiny Alice must cross the moat by jumping across the gray and bloated severed heads of the Queen's victims. But for all that there's nothing really subversive about the film. It's hard for me to even properly articulate.

I guess it was that the plot rolled along so straightforwardly (I hate that I just used that word). But with Alice you expect wandering and twists and turns and absurdities and tangents. And this movie put forward a standard Hollywood rescue mission/quest plot line right off the bat and then from that point on you know exactly how the story will play out.

Then there's the Hatter/Alice thing. They play them up like a romantic subplot and it's really really uncomfortable. It doesn't matter that it's Johnny Depp, it's still squicky, and not what I came to see. Fortunately at the end they ease off and kind of let you decide whether you want the story to go there or not.

I kind of liked Anne Hathaway as the White Queen, although she was so eerie I kept waiting for her to out to be evil. I don't really remember the book clearly, it's been years since I read it (except for Jabberwocky) but I vaguely recall the White and Red Queens (and their entire courts with the exception of the White Knight) being fairly equally self-absorbed and crazy.

I liked Alice in armor at the end. She made an excellent champion. I really liked the exchange of dialogue between the Jabberwock and the Vorpal Sword.

The very end I thought was sort of pat and goofy and anachronistic. Don't get me wrong, I liked the movie, but as an interpretation of the source material (which is obviously difficult to transpose into film) I was disappointed. I thought if anybody could do it Tim Burton could, but to me it left a bit to be desired.

Still though, if I ever have a 9 year old daughter, this would be a movie I would be comfortable having her obsess over. I think that Alice is a good female character. She was nervous and brave and intelligent (and mad). She was a typical misfit Burton hero but the moral at the end was that she could blaze her own path, rather than that she would have to be forever separate from the world (Edward Scissorhands anyone?). So I liked it. I just would have liked it better when I was 9.

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