Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Visual style rules over substance in Alice in Wonderland...

It's not the Red or White Queen that rules in Alice in Wonderland, but Tim Burton's distinctive visual style. Sadly though what's missing is a strong story and some substance to these caricatures of familiar characters.
Alice in Wonderland movie billboard
Not surprisingly the movie contains the suitably surreal stylings of Tim Burton and an equally odd performance from Johnny Depp, that unfortunately makes it a bit predictable at times.
Alice in Wonderland Mad Hatter poster
I'm also not a big fan of 3D, at the moment the technology still feels a bit fuzzy and uncomfortable viewing for me, that ultimately detracts from the story being told on the big screen.
White Rabbit and Alice in Wonderland poster
I'm also not really sure how child-friendly it is to see a rampaging beast's eye pulled out on the end of a sword or a dragon have its head slice cleaned off either.
Alice in Wonderland film poster
On the plus side, they've found a good, likable actress to play 'Alice' in Mia Wasikowska, but she does tend to wander rather aimlessly from one situation to the next being manipulated along the way.
Alice in Wonderland Red Queen poster
Helena Bonham Carter's 'Red Queen' provides most of the humour in the film, far outshining Johnny Depp. In fact the scene with the pig used as a foot-rest made me laugh out loud.

My only criticism is that she seems like a parody of Miranda Richardson's 'Queen Elizabeth I' in 1980's British TV comedy series Blackadder II.
Alice in Wonderland White Queen poster
In fact I found the whole movie to have a distinctly British air to it, which I did find charming, with recognisable voice talent from the likes of Little Britain's Matt Lucas, as 'Tweedledee' and 'Tweedledum', Eastenders soap star and 'Carry on' film veteran Barbara Windsor as the 'Dormouse', and comedian Stephen Fry as the 'Cheshire Cat'.
Tweedledee & Tweedledum Alice in Wonderland poster
I liked the extravagant costumes by Colleen Atwood and found most of the character design to be suitably fantastical, but for me there was just something missing.
Alice in Wonderland movie poster
Ultimately it was a hollow movie going experience for me. From the often incomprehensible dialogue, to Johnny Depp's underwhelming, but totally overacted 'Mad Hatter', Crispin Glover's irritating 'Knave of Hearts' who received far too much unnecessary screen time (with some very poor quality CGI at times) to a fairly weak and unsatisfying plot.
Cheshire Cat Alice in Wonderland poster
Even though I count Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands and The Nightmare Before Christmas amongst some of my favourite films, I can only give Alice in Wonderland three *** stars.

I know that the director probably likes working with Johnny Depp, may even consider him a cinematic muse of sorts, but I really think for creativity's sake they both need some time apart to produce other work.

But that's just my opinion...

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