Alice In Wonderland

When the new live-action version of Alice In Wonderland was announced, I had mixed feelings.
I never really liked the 1950's animated Disney movie, because it felt like a patchwork of half- baked ideas, strange concepts and far-out jokes. What crack were the Disney animators smoking at the time?
Turns out the Lewis Carroll book is quite chaotic as well, with Alice encountering one creature after the other.

Unfortunately, the mixed feelings remain after seeing the 2010 Tim Burton movie. Burton tried to make a coherent movie (an effort that should be applauded) but forgot to make a great movie
(a result that should be regretted). The story now has a firm beginning and ending - confusion never peeps around the corner - but lacks warmth and heart.

Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, The Nightmare Before Christmas (although not directed by Burton) ... most of Burton's movies are genuinely touching and inspiring, but Alice In Wonderland never is. Sure, the visuals are dazzling : this wonderland looks and sounds exactly as you would like it. Spectacular colours everywhere, the pimped version of Dr. Parnassus' Imaginarium. Production values are sky high.

The cast is excellent as well : Johnny Depp (a.k.a. The Greatest Actor Alive) never disappoints, Helena Bonham-Carter lives up to her name (she is bon ham : "someone who acts, exaggerating every emotion and gesture" ~ Collins Cobuild English Dictionary) and the best contemporary voices to help the animals talk : Stephen Fry, Alan Rickman and Christopher Lee. Only Liam Neeson is missing. And Mia Wasikowska as Alice? She does an fine job, although she's never truly amazing. But how can she be, with green/blue screens everywhere?

Which can be considered the biggest gripe : too much CGI. Literally every creature is the result of bits and bytes. The rabbit(s), the Jabberwocky, the cards ... maybe they should have opted for a computer animated movie? Why go to the trouble of hiring respected actors if you're doing 90% with computers?

Alice In Wonderland still comes recommended, because it deserves to be seen on the big screen. As a "movie", it's very good. But as a "Tim Burton movie", it's a little average. How sad.

Julian De Backer, 8 March 2010