Sunday, March 7, 2010

Alice in Blunderland

Those of you who know me know that I am a great lover of Tim Burton's films. I find that he can practically do no wrong. Even though I was a massive fan of the original "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", I find Burton's was still good and as the two were so different, were practically incomparable. However, this is not the case with his new film "Alice in Wonderland".

The story is basically what happens if bad stuff happened after Alice left Wonderland, and so the various characters plot to bring her back to be their 'champion' against the Red Queen - or more famously known as the Queen of Hearts. But, alas, Alice has no recollection of ever being in Wonderland and she must relearn her lessons all over again. The film had promise to be an interesting follow up story to the events after the original "Alice in Wonderland" - the definitive version, I find, to be the Disney animated classic, but that's just me. Unfortunately what ended up happening was Alice was turned into an annoying teenage leading character who did nothing but complain and the plot may as well have been The Narnia Wonderland.

Mia Wasikowska (Alice) can not be blamed I find for the poorness of the character, as she was mutated into a traditional misunderstood youth. Wasikowska first dealt performed in the Australian television show "All Saints", an episode directed by Robert Marchand. The role I find her best so far was in the short film "I Love Sarah Jane", in which she plays a young girl in a zombie apocalypse setting. Definitely worth a watch, it's available here.
Johnny Depp's performance as the Mad Hatter was clearly the best in the film. Though I am generally hard pressed to find a Johnny Depp performance I have disliked, this one was once again something new for the actor. The costume, voice and general physical movement of the character was so well carried out that simply watching him on screen was the saving grace of the film.
Anne Hathaway's performance as The White Queen was amusing in its own right because of her freedom to do with the character what she wanted, "When I was trying to work her out, I kept saying to myself, ‘She is a punk-rock, vegan pacifist.’" the actress said in an interview for Azrael Merrylan's blog.
What disappointed me most was by far the lackluster performance by Helena Bohnam Carter as The Red Queen. Now, normally, I am an incredible fan of the actress - I find she was practically flawless in "Fight Club" and "Sweeney Todd" - but this performance was simply not up to scratch. Albeit her subtle comedy in the role was well done, the screaming and general foolishness became frustrating to watch.
Voice work by Alan Rickman and Steven Fry in (respectively) the Blue Caterpillar and Cheshire Cat were very much up to scratch.

What annoyed me first about this film was that it did NOT need to be in 3D. Not at all. This is not "Avatar" where its only saving grace was the 3D used to make it and was basically just an exhibition of the possibilities of 3D animation. "Alice and Wonderland" and Tim Burton are a perfect match because ANYTHING is possible in both of their worlds (to paraphrase Anne Hathaway from the aforementioned interview) but Burton seems to have simply made a blockbuster film for the sake of it, not including the traditional Burton feel into it like in any of his other classic films. All in all, a massive let down. Mahalo.

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