James Helsby

LRE #18: Alice in Wonderland (2010)

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Little Red Envelope

In my mailbox this week:
Alice in Wonderland

Release Year: 2010
Staring: Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska, Helena Bonham Carter

Classic literature is ripe for remake. I wouldn’t be too surprised to see A Tale of Two Cities making a theatrical re-debut. Some have already seen their day, and the 1951 Disney animated classic of Alice in Wonderland should have been where Disney stopped. But instead, they remade it ala-Tim Burton. They shouldn’t have.

You see, I am sick and tired of Tim Burton movies. They all are the same. Outlandish, dark, dismal, and with Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. They are the same movie, over and over again.

The new Alice in Wonderland is no different. You watch just a few minutes of it, and can plainly recognize that it is a Tim Burton movie. Shadows are too rich, colors are too vivid. Trees look like they will kill you if you walk under them. It’s all the same. Sleepy Hollow, Barber of Fleet Street, Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands…I don’t think a truly original Tim Burton movie has been made since Mars Attacks.

A classic that shouldn't be touched.

But enough with the director.  Alice in Wonderland reinforces a new problem I have with film today. The problem is becoming more and more prevalent, and I can imagine it getting much worse, before it gets any better. 3D of the sake of 3D.

Look filmmakers, I understand that 3D is ‘new’ and ‘hip’ and all the ‘kids’ want 3D movies. It’s old and tired. My parents were watching 3D movies 30 or 40 years ago, and while yes the technology is better, it is no different in concept. We might have radial polarization instead of color shifting, but it is still the same. If you film something being thrown at / out of the screen JUST because it looks cool in 3D, you have failed.

Alice in Wonderland is ripe with these moments; pigs running on screen, Alice being tossed in the air, small woodland creatures being thrown at the camera. It isn’t like you are actually accomplishing something by showing them breaking the 4th wall, all you are really doing is saying ‘look what I can do. This cost $40,000 to animate!’

3D does have it’s place. Avatar is a good example. It was in 3D, but the way the effects were used were immersive, and not distracting. You saw the floating tree-spirit-sperm things, but they weren’t there to make you focus on them. They were there as accompaniment to the action on the screen.

Meh. Still Johnny Depp.

Ok, back to the subject at hand. The movie was well enough to watch, but I was really sick of Johnny Depp being Johnny Depp about half way through. He isn’t necessarily to subject of the movie, but is definitely the focus. His character of the Mad Hatter is more of an angry mad, rather than the traditional insane. You see (and many might not know this) but the Mad Hatter went insane because of Mercury poisoning. Back in the 1800’s they used to use Mercury (the element, duh.) to cure the pelt of the animal whose fur was used on the hat. So Hatter’s, often developed Mercury poisoning because of prolonged exposure via skin contact.

Mad as in, insane. But Depp’s character just seems angry. A little blown out of proportion, and with other subjects in the film which too are blown out of proportion. The climactic battle seems have a huge lead in, but when it comes down to fulfillment of prophecy, it fizzles. I felt nothing more for the good guys than I did for the bad guys, and perhaps the only redeeming quality in the movie, was the secondary actors. Alan Rickman, Stephen Fry, and Crispin Glover.

It’s worth watching, if only just a single time. However, I don’t think it is a film that I will be purchasing. It really didn’t seem like something I would want to watch a second time. That’s why I love netflix.

How much alcohol did it take: None, but a big bag of popcorn
Rating: 6/10. It was pretty, and interesting. And with Crispin Glover in it, I can’t really complain too much. But still, felt just like all the other Burton/Depp/Carter movies.

The Wife’s Retort: I liked it. It wasn’t a kids movie, but it wasn’t horrible either.

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