Sunday, March 21, 2010

Alice in Wonderland

Movie name: Alice in Wonderland
Year of release: 2010
Director: Tim Burton
Stars: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Mia Wasikowska, Anne Hathaway, Matt Lucas, Crispin Glover, Tim Piggot-Smith, Alan Rickman, Stephen Fry, Barbara Windsor, Michael Sheen
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6

Synopsis:Tim Burton's new directorial effort, after the fantastic "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" is an adaptation of two classic books by Lewis Carroll, "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass". The adaptation by screenwriter Linda Woolverton presents a young adult Alice whose life is about to change, since she is about to become engaged to a rather inept young man controlled by his mother. Alice when confronted with her decision, decides to put a halt on the proceedings and follows a white rabbit, who leads her down a whole and into Wonderland. Things have however changed since Alice was last there and the Red Queen now dominates the kingdom, having banished her sister. The Red Queen believes in a prophecy where a young warrior will come forth and challenge her champion and defeat her - Alice fits every part of that prophecy. It's up to Alice and the colorful characters she meets to define each of their own lives and fates.
Tim Burton is as always a very talented filmmaker. Even the most contrived and disjointed screenplays he works with, have a touch of his own universe and sensibility. That is the case of "Planet of the Apes", which even though is a failed film, still retains a lot of his elements and characteristics. "Alice in Wonderland" has a lot of promise, since it again it's focus is a character who is at odds with the universe she finds herself in, much like all of Tim Burton's heroes (or anti-heroes). The main issue why the film doesn't soar where it it should is due to a screenplay that doesn't emphasize the magical component that the film should have. The sense of awe and adventure simply isn't there - the screenplay focuses instead on the feminist side of a young woman coming to terms with herself. Tim Burton feels more at ease where the irreverent and fantastic characters really let loose, particularly the Red Queen as played by Helena Bonham Carter, who walks away with the film. The Red Queen is completely engulfed in her own power, but is also deliciously over the top and totally in love with herself and her partner in crime, Stayne (played by Crispin Glover). Johnny Depp creates another quirky character in his Mad Hatter, but ultimately doesn't have much to do. A good film that deserved a better screenplay.