Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Thoughts on the new "Alice in Wonderland" movie
A few days ago, I had the pleasure of going to the movies with my wife Jeannine and Dan Berger and his wife Jess. The movie we saw was the new "Alice in Wonderland" by Tim Burton.
The pleasure was mostly in the company, not in the movie itself -- I found it quite underwhelming, and sadly one more example of a movie in which visual spectacle wildly outstrips the story being told.
I've greatly enjoyed several of Tim Burton's movies, especially "Nightmare Before Christmas", which I've probably seen ten times (most of those viewings with my daughter). He has quite a wild visual imagination, and that quality is very much on display in this new "Alice". I applaud everyone who had a hand in crafting the look of this movie -- it's really quite something, a truly sumptuous feast for the eyes. I found it far more compelling than, say, the visuals in "Avatar". In "Alice", the world being created is surreal and ridiculous, and thus (in my opinion) much harder to render convincingly "real" than the more prosaic jungles and spaceships of "Avatar". I might even go back to watch "Alice" again just to look at the images.
But I wouldn't be returning for the story, which is woefully thin. Not that the source material is a masterpiece of plot, mind you, but even that "collection-of-incidents-which-passes-for-a-story" would be preferable to the thin gruel of this new tale. In fact, when, for a brief moment in this movie, we see a short flashback to the original Alice and her first journey to Wonderland, I found myself thinking how much more fun it would have been if Burton et al would have just turned their considerable talents to a straight adaptation of the original. They just might have produced the ultimate cinetmatic iteration of "Alice in Wonderland".
And I must also say that I groaned loudly when, near the end of the movie, Johnny Depp's "Mad Hatter" busted out some boogie moves to a funky beat. Ugh. -- PL