Mini-Review: Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Starring Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover, Matt Lucas

Directed by Tim Burton

Expectations: Extremely low.

I normally would have avoided this but for some unexplained reason I decided to give it a go. I’m a fan of the original Alice story and I was curious to see how Tim Burton would film it, but the ridiculous amount of CG told me to steer clear. Burton’s later work for me has been fairly hit or miss, so I didn’t go into this with any expectations that I would enjoy this at any meaningful level. Like many things that your intuition tells you to avoid, Burton’s Alice in Wonderland is definitely one to go into treading lightly.

I was intrigued quite a bit by the opening 40 minutes or so. It was paced well and it was interesting to see how the older Alice reacted to the various things in Wonderland. The CG work is actually pretty good and lends the film an animated quality. That’s not to say that it isn’t excessive though. Virtually everything in the film is CG, including the horses that characters ride upon. Surprisingly the computer imagery is not my main beef with the film though. It’s Burton’s complete lack of emotion or energy with this film. If there’s ever been a guy that needs to take a few years off and reconnect with his passion, it’s Burton and this should be Exhibit A. It’s lifeless and the plethora of CG doesn’t help. No thanks.

Oh, and it has what is probably Danny Elfman’s most tired, boring, passionless score as well. Maybe they were going for passionless as a motif?

7 comments to Mini-Review: Alice in Wonderland (2010)

  • dangerous meredith

    Interestingly enough, I avoided this one too as I wondered if it was just a glorified CG showcase. When it comes down to choosing between going to see something like this in the cinema or staying at home to see one of my beloved old martial arts films on DVD I am afraid that the MA DVD always wins out (I saw a beaut Chang Cheh film last night called ‘The Wierd Man’). As hokey as some of the old chopsockies look, I suspect that there is more real creativity behind them than a glossy megabucks CG laden exercies from modern Hollywood. But I admit it is unfair of me to condemn Alice without seeing it.

    • Yeah, I gotta say you’re better off with an old Shaw Bros. movie. I agree with you that they are more creative because they couldn’t just throw anything they wanted on screen with a computer. The original Star Wars is the same way, the compromises Lucas had to make were some of the best things about it and the new ones fail because of that lack of compromise. Filmmakers need a wall to run into in order to drive the creative process.

  • “Filmmakers need a wall to run into in order to drive the creative process.” – I like that. It’s similar to the way I used to think as a choreographer – I used to try to view any constraints as a defining mechanism. If you look at your limitations in a creative way then they become idosyncracies of your work, rather than limitations, and often initiate some of your best creative work.

  • As soon as the project was announced I think we all knew what ‘Alice’ was going to look like. It would be nice if Burton acted like he cared every once in a while.

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