Thursday, November 18, 2010

He said/She said: Alice in Wonderland

I reviewed Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland when it was released in March. My colleague and reviewing partner Hannah Poturalski only recently caught up with it, and has posted her critique.

Perhaps because she was not as familiar with the world of Alice as I was, she enjoyed the movie much more than I did. I found it Burton's weakest film to date, writing:

There are many things to admire in this film. Wasikowska is excellent as Alice - all at once vulnerable, yet crafty and determined. Helena Bonham Carter devours the scenery with relish as the Red Queen, Unlike other reviewers, I rather liked Anne Hathaway's icy take on the White Queen. And as is true of most of Burton's films, it looks great, with its wildly weird designs and mostly wonderful effects.

Still, Linda Woolverton's rather tortured screenplay obfuscates these good qualities. This may seem like a strange thing to say for a Hollywood film, but this screenplay "thinks" too much, trying to provide the characters with motivations, with  reasons for being. For example, we're treated to the backstory of the Mad Hatter, who apparently went mad because of a past misfortune.
As George Carlin once said "I did not need to be TOLD that!" I don't want to know why the Mad Hatter is mad. His madness is part of his intrinsic appeal, and to explain that away is to lessen that appeal. 

However, coming at the material from a very different perspective, Hannah found delights in the film I could not. She writes:

I think I was able to enjoy this film as much as I did because I had no preconceived ideas of any of the characters or places and what they should be. A lot of the people I talked to didn’t enjoy it as much because of the previous renditions, but I was able to just take it for what it was — an entertaining adventure that touched on important themes, such as coming of age, being yourself, taking risks, etc. ....
For whatever reasons unknown, I don’t usually enjoy Tim Burton films (Edward Scissorhands, Sweeney Todd). I’m not saying I hate Burton films, but this one I really loved. The film sets and characters were so detailed that it almost put the viewer in Alice’s shoes.

I only wish I could have seen the movie Hannah saw. I'm glad she agrees with me about Wasikowska. Personally, I'm looking forward to seeing how the actress fares in another period remake: Jane Eyre.

Watch this space when we co-review Morning Glory with Harrison Ford, Rachel McAdams and Diane Keaton.

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