Sunday, March 14, 2010

Review - Alice in Wonderland

First official 2010 film review, and let's just say it's an inauspicious start to the cinematic year.
You'd think a 2-hour drug-induced fantasy would be, oh I dunno, entertaining. But Tim Burton's Dinsey's Alice in Wonderland is downright painful to sit through; a messy wash of half-baked CG imagery and uninteresting characters.

19-year-old Alice, played with dull passivity by Mia Wasikowska, flees the public marriage proposal by her would-be suitor, and chases an awkwardly animated rabbit down a hole in the ground and into Underland, a vaguely Burtonesque but halfheartedly creepy version of Lewis Carol's Wonderland. There, she is confronted by an array of poorly realized characters, all of them based on Carol's much more intriguing creations, who tell her that on the Fraptious Day she must slay the Jabberwocky and free the denziens of Underland from the big-headed Red Queen (Mrs. Burton herself, Helena Bonham Carter). Of course, the central marketing weapon of the Disney corporation here is Johnny Depp, sadly exploited for his name recognition and willingness to don a ridiculous Carrot Top wig and hooker makeup as the Mad Hatter, another poorly defined and inconsistently written character.

I seriously question how much of the blame for this compromising headache of a movie lies with Mr. Burton, and how much of it lies with the studio. I've never seen a Tim Burton film that felt so out of character for him. So thematically empty, so unevenly paced. Even the graphic design was weak; bland and yet too colourful, and the dodgy effects did nothing to help the situation. Was this really the plan? Perhaps his original vision was too dark for the studio's comfort? I guess we'll never know, but what I do know is that you should do yourself a favour and skip this very unimportant date.

* out of ****

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