Thursday, March 11, 2010

ALICE IN WONDERLAND (2010) - 1/5 stars

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Release: 2010
Director: Tim Burton
Writer: Linda Woolverton, Lewis Carroll (loosely based on the works of Carroll)
Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover, Michael Sheen, Stephen Fry
Soundtrack: Danny Elfman
Claim to fame: Tim Burton's "vision" of 3-D, AKA "Wonderland for Hot Topic tweens"
Rating: 1/5 stars

It turns out that Tim Burton wasn't content with destroying our memories of beloved films like "Planet of the Apes" and "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," he now has to tarnish classic literature.

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Oh yeah, this is "Alice in Wonderland" just like you remember it!

Notice all the black...

While the director showed a brief return to form with 2008's "Sweeney Todd," that must have been a flash in the pain because "Alice in Wonderland" is most likely his worst film yet. This movie incorporates none of the dream logic, word puzzles, or child-like wonder of Lewis Carroll's timeless stories.

Instead the screenplay attempts to turn Wonderland into just another generic "dark fantasy" kingdom with a lore and backstory like Narnia and Middle-Earth - which completely misses the point of the story and instantly made me resentful.

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And remember how "Alice in Wonderland" ended

with a big battle sequence like "Lord of the Rings"? mean you don't remember?

Don't expect to be dazzled by the 3-D either, which was only added after the fact unlike "Avatar."

Burton's vision is more of a dour and ash-strewn, color-drained tour through Hot Topic Land.

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I'm fairly certain that Tim Burton...

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is the the only who thinks "Wonderland"...

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should ever look this drab and unappealing

Johnny Depp delivers the most embarrassing performance of his career, with most of his inane mumbling lost on the soundtrack, while Burton has Anne Hathaway dolled up to look creepily like his ex-wife, Lisa Marie. Who wants to bet that Burton dumps Helena Bonham Carter for Hathaway in another few years?

Danny Elfman provides the soundtrack, which hits exactly all the cues you'd expect, with a choir of gothic school children doing their "lalala" thing every time some "stunning" new vista is revealed. It's all so dreadfully predictable.

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Because dark eyebrows and lipstick look so appealing on a porcelain white face

At this point I think Burton's followers would have just as easy a time assembling one of his movies as the director does himself. Take a well-known and bankable property + Johnny Depp in a quirky, make-up heavy role + Elfman on the soundtrack=sell t-shirts and lunch boxes to all the kiddies in eyeliner.

About the only one who comes out of this thing unscathed is Stephen Fry, who delivers a fairly iconic performance of the Cheshire Cat. The cat is about the only character in the film that will make you say, "Ah, that's the Wonderland I remember." Elsewhere, Crispin Glover was cast simply to be weird and...that's about it. The sad thing is, Crispin Glover standing still is more strange than Burton himself has been in a long, long time.

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I bet you can hear Danny Elfman's music in your head

without even having seen the movie. Admit it!

Allow me to put things in perspective for you: the Mad Hatter *breakdances* to a pop tune at the climax of the film. This is a kids movie that's not for kids and won't even please adults. About the only crowd who will enjoy this are the die-hard Burton fans who already have their Mad Hatter t-shirts on at the premiere. But at this point, Burton is just as washed up and talentless as that other former goth provocateur, Marilyn Manson.

Perhaps it's time he had his director's license revoked for a few years until he remembers something like the magic and wonder of "Edward Scissorhands" and "Beetlejuice." Hey, sometimes you need time away from your craft to realize why you fell in love with it in the first place. Burton needs to do something. Because this here, this is a soul-less pantomime of what a Disney movie should be. Don't waste your money on it or put your children through such an utterly boring, utterly depressing spectacle.

Alice 10

See? Tim Burton HAS sold out, he's standing in front of an American Apparel!

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