Saturday, June 19, 2010

Movie Review: "Alice in Wonderland"


Most everything you need to know about "Alice in Wonderland" can be found in the Internet Movie Database entry's "Trivia" section. Some selected entries:

- This film marks the 7th time Johnny Depp has worked under the direction of Tim Burton and the 6th time for Helena Bonham Carter.

- Director Trademark: [Tim Burton] [Black and white stripes] Tweedledum and Tweedledee's shirts.

- After the defeat of the Red Queen, The Mad Hatter does a dance and his head starts spinning. Just like Tim Burton's Beetlejuice.

- Crispin Glover's character, Stayne, has only one eye. This may be a reference to him being a representation of the Jack of Hearts. (The Jack of Hearts and the Jack of Spades are often referred to as "One-Eyed Jack" since only one eyed is showed on the card.)

Next, here's a list of selected movies from Burton's directorial filmography on IMDb; organized by year:

# Alice in Wonderland (2010)
# Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
# Corpse Bride (2005)
# Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
# Big Fish (2003)
# Planet of the Apes (2001)

# Sleepy Hollow (1999)
# Mars Attacks! (1996)
# Ed Wood (1994)
# Batman Returns (1992)
# Edward Scissorhands (1990)
# Batman (1989)
# Beetle Juice (1988)
# Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985)

I would be willing to verbally fight anyone to death in defense of all of the listed films produced between 1985 and 1999. These are some of the best, most imaginative examples of cinema ever made. Most of them were cornerstones of my childhood the minute I laid eyes upon them. I don't know anyone of my age group who doesn't still quote "Pee-wee's Big Adventure" at least once per year.
After Y2K? Eh, I can't vouch.
As noted above, he obviously can't get enough of Johnny Depp and is totally married to Bonham Carter. I can't blame him on either count. First we've got Depp. If I need to explain to you why he's awesome, then you need awesome lessons. And if you're a director I think you know it's pretty much understood that the spouse is stays in the picture so you stay in the picture when the cameras go away.
But enough already.
How many times must we see this trio bang out another zany tale? How many times do I have to see black and white in an alternating pattern on film? Burton's been using the same visual cues for between 10 and 25 years depending on who you ask.
Not to mention the fact that this is a horrifying, disjointed retelling of the "Alice" tales. Parts are cherry picked from the carcass of Lewis Carroll's yarn. Whatever you think of Tim Burton, I defy you to place him higher than Carroll in the cannon of human artistic achievement. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm going with the originator of the style that Burton only hopes to high-five. Besides that, Burton's visuals are becoming more horrifying each outing.
What Burton needs is a time-out.
I don't want him to take a permanent break, I just think it's fine to slow your own roll and recenter yourself a bit.
And, you know, maybe find some new actors.

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