Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Movie Review: Alice In Wonderland

Directed by Tim Burton
Screenplay by Linda Wolverton
Duration 1hour, 50 minutes

My Wonderfully Majestic Opinion
When it comes to Tim Burton, I find myself constantly asking the same question, are Johnny Depp and Tim Burton in love?  With this 7th film the dynamic duo has done together, I wonder if the two need to start seeing other people.  It doesn’t stop with Mr. Depp, as Burton’s wife, the wonderfully twisted Helena Bonham Carter, has been seen in no less than three of his films.  With that said, however, Alice in Wonderland is a surprisingly refreshing and adventurous film experience.

The story starts off as Alice attempts an escape from a party that “secretly” was a surprise engagement party helmed by the mother of a very bulbous, over the top, proper Englishman.  Chasing after a very familiar white rabbit, Alice stumbles into a very strange and very deep hole next to a twisted and demonic tree…the sign of a true Tim Burton film.  (Note: you know you are watching a Burton film if you see a twisted, leafless tree, or a Jack-O-Lantern.)  After landing head first into a small room, for those familiar with the story, we are shown a very familiar scene in which Alice grows and shrinks in a non stopping pattern, and transitioning into the normal introductions to the famous Wonderland inhabitants.  Having not read the book or seen the Disney film in such a long time, I had forgotten much of the context of the original story.  So I sat there for the first half hour of the film thinking I was watching Tim Burton’s interpretation of the famous Lewis Carroll novel, I soon discovered this was not the case.

As it turns out the film was not based on the original story at all.  Rather it was loosely based on Alice and her return to Wonderland as a 19 year old girl who had forgotten her previous adventure in Wonderland.  Alice has returned as this “chosen one” type of character who is destined to slay the Jabberwocky and over throw the Red Queen.  This unexpected twist for me was a very pleasing aspect which helped to dictate my attitude towards the film as a whole.  And as time flew by I discovered myself enjoying the film more than expected.

What I was impressed with the most was with the creative approach at the world of Wonderland.  Almost solely CG, the world and it’s inhabitants were exaggerations or had exaggerated features to help show a distinct difference from our world and theirs, keeping the separation of reality and fantasy quite clear.  I quite enjoyed seeing Depp with large, twisted eyeballs and Bonham Carter with an abnormally large head that was in no way proportional to her body.  Along with this, the animated aspect of the film very closely resembled the Disney approach, where many of the animal characters were quite quirky and obviously overdone, but still maintained a realistic undertone that helped keep a balanced look on screen.  It brought me back to the days of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, where cartoons and the real world mesh together as an acceptable and perfectly normal aspect of life.

The film of course was not without its flaws.  Being a Disney film, one will never escape the cheesy lines that has become a branded trademark of big, movie making corporations,

“This is Impossible” - Alice
“Only if you believe it to be.” - Hatter

And of course the horrendously predictable plot devices, such as the dog reuniting with his family, Alice earning the trust of the gigantic beast, the slaying of the Jabberwocky, made me want to take a huge and satisfying dump on the screen.  But to be honest, there was nothing terribly distracting about the film that resembled the experience I had seeing Avatar.

My Awe-Struck Conclusion
Tim Burton delivered a film of creative and good taste.  Yes it was very Tim Burtony, but it was a step forward rather than a step into a large, gaping mud hole festering with bacteria and dead animals.  No, Burton delivered a quality film that was enjoyable and fun to see. 

In The Moment Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

1 comment:

  1. Nice review!! I thought of Who Framed Rodger Rabbit as I sat in the theatre too - how things have changed in just that short time!