Alice in Wonderland

7 Apr

Title: Alice in Wonderland
Year: 2010
Director: Tim Burton
Writer: Linda Woolverton, adapting from the books by Lewis Carroll
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover, Michael Sheen, Stephen Fry, Matt Lucas, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall
MPAA Rating: PG, fantasy action/violence involving scary images and situations, and for a smoking caterpillar
Runtime: 108 min
Major Awards: 2 BAFTAs
IMDb Rating: 6.9
Rotten Tomatoes: 52%

So, Alice in Wonderland. By far the film I was most looking forward to in the first quarter of the year, seeing as how it is based on one of my all-time favorite books, one that I read at least once every month or two, and damn did this one had me excited, Tim Burton film that would mix cgi and live-action, mark his seventh collaboration with Mr. Depp and his sixth with Ms. Bonham Carter, his wife. Unfortunately though, I found myself being disappointed.

Perhaps it was because my expectations were too high, perhaps it was because I was such a huge fan of the original two books by the master Lewis Carroll, and to be frank the film Burton gives us loses the minimalistic approach and true heart of the books, perhaps it was for another reason entirely, but I just didn’t love this one, I liked it, I really did, but that was mainly because of what a tremendous visual feast it was, and not because of how it adapted the amazing books.

The books are something out of this world, something I get different things from every time I approach them, something nothing short of magical, and what I like about Burton’s envisioning is that he too realizes this isn’t a child’s story, this is a darker fantasy tale that was crafted by a deeply complex mind that is bound to enthrall those similar minds who ended up reading it. As a film Burton does give it that same feel, the visuals make this seem like an hour and forty minute hallucination, that actually looked better to me in 2D than it did in 3D.

But that’s where I thought the problem was, Burton paid too much attention to the visuals, and to the impeccable design that’s in the sets and especially in the characters which all look amazing, he doesn’t go the way the 1951 Disney animated film version went, but rather he treads more alone the grotesque drawings by John Tenniel that accompany the original books, this is how the characters ought to look.

I say this is his problem because I reckon that Burton lost his sense of the story because he paid too much attention to the details. The other explanation could be that Burton just didn’t care that much about the story or just wasn’t good at translating it, but he’s Tim Burton, he obviously cares about a story like this one, and he rocks at translating tales on screen, so I’ll go with my first option that still maintains his status as a genius in my mind.

The discovery of Mia Wasikowska, who I fortunately knew before from her turn on In Treatment, is great, I love that this actress had such a huge break and look forward to seeing her in other projects, and Depp is perfect, as he always seems to be, how he gives such dimension to a character like the Mad Hatter is beyond me, he’s a guy that will never fail to immerse himself entirely in his roles.

The other actors, whether they play live versions of their characters or give them a voice are just as pitch-perfect, and I mean, just take a look at that cast list and tell me if it’s not pure perfection, and if you’re a lover of Harry PotterPotter films like me you’ll find most actors in this one have had a role in the wizard franchise: Ms. Bonham Carter is Bellatrix in Potter and the Red Queen here, Alan Rickman is the Caterpillar in this one and Snape in Potter, Timothy Spall who plays Bayard here is Peter Pettigrew in Potter, the woman who played Madame Olympe Maxime in Potter, Frances la Tour is Aunt Imogene in this one, Imelda Staunton voices the flowers here and is Dolores Umbridge in Potter and Stephen Fry, who voices the Cheshire Cat actually lends his voice to the Potter franchise also, as the narrator of the audiobooks. Kinda neat, huh? And I’m guessing there’s one or two smaller actors I missed here who also have roles in Potter, those are just the ones I got.

But enough about Potter, back to Alice. What I guess I’m trying to say is that Alice in Wonderland isn’t the masterpiece I thought it would be, it’s a solid film, envisioned by one of the coolest directors working nowadays, propelled to greatness by its great visuals, but it’s a film that lacks cohesion in the story, especially in the latter part of the film which I really didn’t like, but nevertheless, it’ll be a hit and people will love it. I just know that people who love the books won’t share the love quite as much.

Grade: B

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