Alice in PLUNDERLAND.

Title: Alice in Wonderland.
Director: Tim Burton..
Screenplay: Linda Woolverton
Cast: Johnny Depp, Tim Burton’s Wife, Mia Wasikowska, Anne Hatthaway, Stephen Fry, Crispin Glover, Alan Rickman, Matt Lucas
Genre: Action
(2010)

There are so many things I could say about this movie.  So many things.  I could say that this movie destroyed my faith in Johnny Depp as a competent actor.  I could say that the CG felt cheap, and that I’m so, so, so glad that I didn’t watch it in 3D.  I could say that the writing was retarded, that the narrative was off and that the characters were abused.  Indeed, I could say that Tim Burton ostensibly failed, outright and with no buts.

But I won’t say any of those things, because those things are mild compared to the biggest problem that this movie had.

I don’t think Tim Burton knew who he was making this movie for.  The imagery looked like it wanted to appeal to children, but to adults to – and not in the way that a traditional children’s movie might but in a way that tried to cater exclusively to one but not the other.  But it tried to do it with both.  It left the audience with a mishmash of images that, honestly, we didn’t quite know what to do with.  Were we supposed to laugh at the Red Queen’s head or were we supposed to take it as some sort of metaphor?  Slapstick or grotesque symbolism?  I really don’t know.  All I know is that it looked dumb and, honestly, I found it jarring.  I found the Knave jarring too.  In fact I found all of the CG cheap and jarring.

I don’t think the writers knew what they were doing either.  I think on some level they wanted to adapt Lewis Caroll’s work, but on another they wanted to adapt the Chronicles of Narnia. And they weren’t clear on who their audience were either.  Kids or adults, or both or something in the middle.  The plot was nonsensical, for that matter, only barely explaining itself in context and only just explaining its imagery.

No one knew what they were doing with the Mad Hatter.  The writers had absolutely no idea and Johnny Depp even less.  His scarce Scottish accent sounded great, but it’s arbitrary employment made it difficult to decipher its meaning — why?  WHY was he sometimes Scottish?  It was clearly important to the narrative, but the narrative clearly didn’t know why.

Why was Wonderland renamed as Underland?  Why did Alice not remember what to do upon her revival?  Why did no one question her change of clothing?  Why?  Why?  Why?  I don’t know and the movie didn’t tell me and I’m not convinced that the movie knows either.

And that’s why Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland is a bad movie.  Because it simply doesn’t know what it’s doing.  So despite great voice acting and despite a fantastic Alice, despite a fantastic opening, the movie degenerates into soulless tripe with a tacked-on, clichéd and out-right retarded ending to really seal the deal.  It was a bad movie.  Don’t see it.

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