Monday, March 8, 2010

Nog Visits Burton's Wonderland (or is it Underland?)

Tim Burton's surreal sensibility certainly seems perfectly suited to an adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, but his film is only sporadically effective (at best). Maybe we can blame Disney (did they keep some of Burton's darker whims at bay?), or maybe the screenplay, which mostly abandons the wordplay of the books in favor of a streamlined, action formula in which Alice must prepare to battle the Jabberwock. So we're left with a mixed-bag of things that work pretty well (Bonham-Carter is amusing as the Red Queen, Crispin Glover is suitably bonkers--and creepy--as the Knave of Hearts, and that floating Cheshire Cat would probably freak you the fuck out if you were on 'shrooms) and things that don't work very well at all (Depp's Mad Hatter, whose "dance" at the end of the film stops the movie dead in its tracks, with even the actors looking vaguely embarrassed). The 3D, too, is hit-and-miss, occasionally adding depth to Burton's always interesting (if now overly familiar) production design but more often feeling like old-school 3D gimmickry (as opposed to the glorious new Age of Avatar!). For a Burton fan such as myself, it's watchable but disappointing. I'd rank it a notch above Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and waaaay below Sweeney Todd in terms of recent Burton, whose next project really needs to be something original (if not a Scissorhands, perhaps at least a...Big Fish!).


  1. Okay, I don't like BIG FISH, I will just. . .put that card on the table here and now for the world to see. Don't like BIG FISH.

    BUT: I do like Tim Burton (thought I haven't even seen ED WOOD. . .which is shameful, I know). Still, I loved his late '80s stuff, his early '90s stuff, and I _like_ SLEEPY HOLLOW and _REALLY LIKE_ SWEENEY TODD, but could not stand CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY. I haven't seen ALICE yet, but it seems like a match that is almost too obvious to be at all interesting. And the reviews (including yours) all promise disappointment. Too bad.

  2. I'm going to see Alice this Saturday. My expectations are low.

    I liked Big Fish. And Sleepy Hollow. And Sweeney Todd. Did not like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (but I'm one of the few that also did not like the original). So since we seem to pretty much be on the same page, I probably won't think much of Alice.