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Imagine recieving an invitation to a tea-party and hearing that the other guests are going to be Johnny Depp, Tim Burton, Helena Bonham-Carter, Stephen Fry, Alan Rickman, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover, Michael Sheen and hey, why not, the ghost of Walt Disney. On the way there you’d find yourself deep in thought – what we will we talk about? How will everybody get along? What stories will they have to tell? You’d be nervous, of course, amongst these artists, but not at any point would you worry that things might turn sour. No, there are too many great talents, intellectuals, visionaries attending for something like that to happen. No, the conversation will be memorable and magical, full of wit and insight and perhaps even a dab of genius. You will be the envy of your friends, for sure.
You arrive at the party to find the tone is a little odd. Nobody is getting along like you imagined. You sit down and observe the table of guests before you. Johnny Depp is in a strange mood. He’s mumbling in and out of a Scottish accent, winding up the other guests, annoying the Brits with his outright zaniness. Helena Bonham-Carter is trying her best to get some kind of conversation going, but it’s just not happening. She stares down miserably into her cup of tea. Stephen Fry is shaking his head. Crispin Glover is drunk and telling edgy jokes. Michael Sheen and Alan Rickman are staring at a couple of paychecks, their expressions blank and cold. Anne Hathaway is on the phone to her agent, muttering that she has been “ill-used”. The ghost of Walt Disney sits at the head of the table, laughing a terrible laugh that shrounds the whole scene in an oblique darkness.
Wait. Somebody is missing. Where’s Tim? Where the heck is Tim Burton? Surely he can make things better. Yes, he’s just what the party needs. The director – the man with the power to unite these magnificent guests and turn this thing around. You stumble away from the table, eager to find him, following a heavily CGI-generated pathway until you come to a little house on the edge of a wood. From inside, you hear horrible grunting noises. Horrible grunting noises, yes, and sobs… quiet, subdued sobs. Slowly, you edge towards the house and stop at the door. The sounds continue. Grunt. Grunt. Sob. Sob. With one hand, you push the door and peer inside.
You widen your eyes in horror as Tim Burton stares back at you, his trousers down at his ankles. Lewis Carroll is bent over a table, tears welling up beneath his eyes. Something in your heart breaks. Your childhood, perhaps, and you try and wake yourself up from this terrible nightmare. But you can’t. You’re not dreaming.
Helena Bonham-Carter was a high light. The red queen was the only character I cared about. The rest was a waste of time.
And then Christopher Lee emerges. Your heart leaps at the thought of his legendary voice, a voice of precision and instruction. Surely it can bring some civility to the madness. But instead of words, you are greeted by bolts of lightning, exploding and electrifying everything in sight. The uninspired, ugly world of unimagination around you then melts not into its base elements, but into a soulless, digitized mess of binary code.
Does anyone go to Burton films expecting something they haven’t seen before anymore?
Bereft of any true imagination or the gift of storytelling, this is the Harry Potterisation of Alice: shallow, action-laden and minimally plotted. Never a fan of Burton’s plastic gothic fantasies, this is by far his weakest effort since Beetlejuice, losing the fey absurdist fantasy of Carroll in favour of a series of lazy set pieces. The 3D image looks like its washed in a grey pall throughout. A heinous waste of time.
That Debbie Slushie humanoid called the film “Gloria Steinhem In Wonderland”. I guess to her it’s one big attack on anyone to the political right of Ronald Reagan. By the way, I haven’t seen it.
A sample of Debbie Slushie’s extremist crap:
“The new “Alice” is about the horrors of marriage and how, even back in the 1800s a young girl knows more about business and trading in far off lands than a wealthy English tycoon. The movie, which debuts in theaters tonight, bears very little resemblance to the classic Lewis Carroll fairy tale, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” While the 3-D effects were okay and some of the movie was cute, the destruction of Carroll’s charming tale is a huge disappointment. And it simply wasn’t “Alice in Wonderland.” It was the feminist manifesto fraudulently and deceptively dressed up in that name.”
As I said, I haven’t seen the film, but I’m quite certain this is all highly delusional ranting from the empty head of a nimrod. Makes you pine for the return of Pauline Kael.
Not only was it underwhelming, but, for me anyway, it marked the nadir of narrative cinema’s decline. If we don’t change something radically soon, cinema is really dead, and I never thought I would be one of THOSE assholes. How many times do we have to see a nicely self-contained storyline that resolves everything before we realize we need something new? I guess some people realized that in the 60’s and 70’s, and most people before them can be forgiven since it was so new, but I, for one, am becoming utterly repulsed by almost everything after 1979.
Thanks for reading my extreme post.
Oh my god Nate, it was that bad?
Im saving money since I read your post, so I can see the movie and try to feel what you feel, because im quite sure am going to feel it. Until then…
RICHMONDHILL, above, mentions the curiously washed-out, grey pall that hung over the whole onscreen imagery.
So it WASN’T just the cinema I saw it at!
I was flabbergasted by how dark, greyed-out, fuzzy and low-contrast was the onscreen imagery.
@ MARK VANSELOW, above
I’m afraid Debbie’s rant is pretty much on the mark: there was a whole feminist theme to the story that Lewis Carroll never intended.
But not only that, the feminist subplot was very weakly presented…. like the current filmmakers sorta stuck it in, faute-de-mieux.
Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” was just too bad (even the visuals were boring and of poor quality).
On the good side someone can still aspire to make the definitive film version of Lewis Carrol’s book.
I just watched this and what a disappointing piece of drivel. I can’t imagine what Burton was thinking.
There are some interesting ideas in the story approach the actual result is trash. The score is a joke. The only good thing – some of the sets, mostly early on, are interesting, but the ‘effects’ were childish and overdone.
I’ve seen many, many Alice films, but this was the worst (and that includes the porno version).
I noticed a lot of complaints regarding Mia W. I won’t debate them but I don’t think it is material to the overall quality of the film.
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