Sunday, April 11, 2010

Movie: Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Not too bad, not too bad. I happen to have read Lewis Carrol’s Alice's Adventures in Wonderland two years ago and I remember that it is a book without much plot. Of all the books in the world, this is probably the book that is most like a dream, and dreams are not very coherent most of the time. The charm of the Alice story lies in subtle word jokes (that often require an explanation nowadays, 145 years later) and fancies in imagination. But modern Hollywood requires movies with a plot, a clear storyline.

I can imagine Tim Burton’s headaches as he tries to force the well-known Alice elements into a coherent story. I guess he took another look at the Disney adaptation and then made up a lot of new characters and places to glue the Alice elements together. This will make Alice purists groan, but I can forgive Burton for using his artistic licence. At least he tried to stay true to the dreamlike spirit, although the battle at the end is really stretching it. Burton also tries to get away with it by making his movie a sort of sequel to the first, and Alice is a young adult instead of a little girl (like Steven Spielberg’s Hook was a sequel to Peter Pan). The intro with adult Alice is nice, but the ending in the real world is rushed and awkward (curiously Hook’s ending was too stretched out and overly sentimental).

Burton has also sweetened the story a bit. If we compare this Alice in Wonderland with the book and the Disney version, then the latter two are much more darker and brooding and somehow better suited for adults than children. By removing the darkness, Burton’s Alice in Wonderland has become childish and falls a bit flat. In the end, if you like Burton and if you like odd characters jumping through inventive CG landscapes, you can enjoy it at face value. I love the cat.

IMDB: Alice in Wonderland

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