Mar 6 2010

Alice in Wonderland

Last night, we went to see Tim Burton’s newest creation “Alice in Wonderland” in 3-D. There was a 2-D version available at the theater for the “No glasses for me, thanks!” crowd, otherwise known as the “$10 dollars a ticket is more than enough, thanks!” crowd. I have been a long-time fan of Tim Burton movies, “Edward Scissorhands” (1990) being one of my all-time favorites. Which is why I’m sad to report, that I have also watched the overall decline of his movies over the years (exceptions: “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993)  and a number of films that he produced). I’m not entirely sure why that is. Burton still fills his movies with twisted and leafless Hallowe’en forests populated with strange and melancholy characters, all picking their ways through gloomy sets, and seasoned with generous dashes (gashes?) of dark humor… but somewhere between “Vincent” (1982) and today, all of these wonderfully imaginative dream-scapes became monotonous. That’s a really painful admission for me to make, because I love Burton’s artistic vision. He has a style that no one else in Hollywood can even come close to… (except perhaps Terry Gilliam) but maybe that’s because no one else needs to, because Burton has done it to death?

The movie is based on the book of (nearly) the same name by Lewis Carroll in addition to his 1872 poem “The Jabberwocky” (originally appearing in “Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There“). Thirteen years after her first adventure down the rabbit hole, Alice’s only memories of Wonderland are strange recurrent dreams that have persisted into adulthood. During her second visit, she finds a blighted landscape occupied by familiar but Burton-ized characters, all living under the tyrannical rule of Helena Bonham-Carter’s hydrocephalitic Red Queen (every time I saw her I started thinking of the old Steve Madden advertisements). It is soon revealed that on Frabjous Day, Alice is destined to confront the catching claws of the Red Queen’s champion, Jabberwocky. Helping Alice along the way are a number of computer generated characters  led by Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter. I must admit that I walked past the poster for this movie for several months without realizing that the iridescent eyed Hatter was Depp. When you finally hear and see him on the screen however, you realize that even five pounds of make-up, mismatched contact lenses, and a fright wig cannot disguise him. I wonder where Depp’s career would be without Tim Burton?

So, is the movie any good? It’s okay… I would rather Tim Burton had made a movie based on “Lost Girls” (1995 graphic novel by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie) about the erotic adventures of Alice, Dorothy (of Wizard of Oz fame), and Wendy (of Peter Pan renown). Not sure what Burton porn would be like but at least it would be different. Extra credit: If Mia Wasikowska (the Alice from this movie) agreed to star, I’d be in line for the sneak preview… Well, maybe not. Not sure I’d want to sit in the skeevy kind of places that show those movies. You never know when you might be sitting next to a Paul Reubens wanna-be with bad aim.

“What a regrettably large head you have. I would very much like to hat it. I use to hat The White Queen, you know. Her head was so small.” “It’s tiny. It’s a pimple of a head.” – Mad Hatter to the Red Queen with rejoinder

3.5 out of 5