Sunday, March 7, 2010

Review - Alice in Wonderland

I don't think I've done movie reviews here before... Nope, nothing in the archives. So, this will be a little bit different. Bear with me, we'll get through this.

Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland is not technically a remake of the Disney cartoon - rather, it's a sequel of sorts that shares the same title. Alice Kingsley (no relation - but it might have been fun to see HIM turn up) is a young woman facing a marriage proposal that she doesn't want, but which everyone she knows expects her to accept unconditionally. Rather than say yes or no, Alice goes chasing a white rabbit down a rabbit hole, and...

...well, if this were a remake you'd know what happens next, but again, it's not. Wonderland has fallen on dark times, and only Alice can set things right. Except this Alice isn't the Alice that Wonderland's inhabitants expected, and she's not at all interested in putting her neck on the line for what she thinks are nothing more than figments of her imagination.

The story falls into a fairly standard journey of the reluctant hero - in some scenes, you feel as if Burton has been borrowing set and story from the Lord of the Rings. It's a passable plot, but nothing out of the ordinary, and certainly not as demented as you might expect from the subject matter.

Everyone in the cast turns in an adequate or above performance, with some of the CG characters (the Cheshire Cat, the March Hare and the Caterpillar in particular) doing sterling work, both in actors and animation. Johnny Depp is suitably mad as the Mad Hatter, especially when he's at his tea party. Unfortunately the script puts too much weight and screen time on the character for him to carry, and towards the end you just want him to get off the bloody screen.

Helena Bonham Carter and Crispin Glover play the villainous Red Queen and Knave, respectively. Both characters are suitably villainous, but not nearly as mad as you'd expect. Aside from their strange appearances (and Glover is oh-so-subtly creepy), you'd be able to drop them in any Tudors episode and they'd fit right in.

Anne Hathaway, as the White Queen, plays a sort of demented fairy godmother with aplomb. She's nice, yes, but spend too much time with her and you'll start to feel nervous about what might happen if she stops being nice. Very well done.

The score is good but not memorable. The 3D effects work well most of the time, but sometimes come out blurred from trying to follow small flying objects; I doubt you'll miss anything if you go see the 2D version.

Overall Alice in Wonderland is good, but not great. It tries to fit Wonderland into a coherent story structure, and succeeds. But by doing so, it loses a lot of the lunacy and manic energy that made the original so much fun. Worth seeing, but not something to go out of your way for.


Author's Log

Laying out plot for a short story. I'm not entirely sure where it's going to go, so I need to beef up my characters and let them figure it out for me. Should be fun.

Current Reading

I'm just finishing up Salamander, by Nick Kyme. It's a solid Space Marine story featuring the Salamanders, probably the most humane (relatively speaking) Space Marines in the Imperium of Man. Lots of conflict, brutal warfare, and ugly aliens getting blown into sticky bits; with more to come, as its the first book in a trilogy.

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