Saturday, March 06, 2010

"Alice in Wonderland 3D" (2010) - Movie Review

Long I have forgotten the topsy turvy journey of Alice in the story books I read and Tim Burton is here to remind those in his likings for Depp’s theatrics and a tiny bit of vicious mood to assemble a kind of sequel in “Alice in Wonderland”. Another millionth thanks to CGI that the Wonderland is really wonderful with a sense of hiding a ghost underneath the bushes and the tree trunks. Alice goes where she is asked and naively believes that she is in a dream despite being in her final teens. Burton’s attempt is a self satiating exercise which goes predictable to more predictable and then to do not care attitude as the slaying sequence arrives.

Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is grown up and remembers her adventures as a dream than a doubting reality. She is a father’s child and as films would have those sentimental killing of the dad, she is left with her mother (Lindsay Duncan). In the Victorian era, girls follow their mother’s wishes and hence Alice is at the doorstep of being engaged to a not so pleasant Hamish (Leo Bill). Running away when she is popped with the question, she follows the fancy Rabbit (voice of Michael Sheen) ultimately ending in the adventure land.

The intention of Burton is clear which is to have a version for himself of this acclaimed and a dubious story for every child. Recollecting the distributed memories hidden somewhere, the childhood story brings a crazy world too crazy for the young mind. And Burton captures that mood in this film with obese twins (voice of Matt Lucas), Hookah smoking Absolum the wise Caterpillar (voice of Alan Rickman), talking Rabbit, talking Bloodhound (voice of Timothy Spall), talking mouse (voice of Barbara Windsor), talking and disappearing cat Cheshire (voice of Stephen Fry) and the dead heads on the canal outside of the castle of Red Queens (Helena Bonham Carter).

And as I was thinking of the nature in which these elements are a tad bit graphic for the young kids, there comes a plucking an eye of a creature to give any one a shiver by the mouse’s little sword. Thankfully no blood spilled and the creature lives by with one eye later to have it returned by Alice itself. There is a desperate attempt to make it PG rated and then Burton wanted his way. How certain scenes past the rating board is a question with no answers.

In this mad land with Depp again going for that crazy character Mad Hatter, it does not have that another layer the director plans it to be. The relationship between Hatter and Alice is a mild effort to have a certain understanding and analogy of the nature their lives are in each of their worlds. Yet it does not come as a profound imagery rather an addendum posed for an emotional connection to the screenplay.

There are typical Burton moments when the White Queen played by Anne Hathaway with a weird goodness. Her White Queen withholds her rage and anger by saying inside her “Serenity Now” by Frank Costanza in “Seinfeld”. And the despicable potion she manufactures in front of Alice to come to her normal size is devilishly witty too (another “Is it a PG movie?” moment).

I think if it did not have the constraint of produced by Walt Disney and more so to address to the younger audience, this would have been a dark fairy tale of strange kind. Instead it becomes a screenplay constantly aspiring to be that dark tale rather than being one providing a single note experience.

I have admired the performance of Mia Wasikowska in the brilliant HBO TV series “In Treatment” as the troubled teenage US gymnast aspirant and was even more surprised to learn that she is an Australian. After that I saw her in few smaller roles in the films I did not much like and this is her first assignment in a full feature performance. She faithfully adheres to the Alice but it does not stick to the reality this Wonderland tries to project.

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