Those of you who read my post I Heart Tim Burton will know that I have been eagerly awaiting his newest movie contribution, “Alice in Wonderland”.
Now, I had listened to various reviews, mainly Jonathan Ross on Film 2010, Radio One’s James King and the brilliant podcast/i-player ‘listen again’ of Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo on Radio 5 Live. By the way, this last film review show is a must, must, must listen to, its wonderful entertainment as well as being brilliantly informative about our cinema world. But each of these reviews made me sulk a little – none of them rated Alice in Wonderland. I wasn’t swayed though, not too much, I still wanted to see the film desperately, but I did level out my enthusiasm, I went in expecting to be disappointed.
So, on Wednesday, the day of orangeness, we went to see it. I want to say that it delivered everything Tim Burton and wonderful, excitement and fear, beauty and gothic all mixed into a glorious hotch-potch of madness. I want to say I came out buzzing and blown away. But I can’t.
I am far from disappointed because I did thoroughly enjoy the film and will inevitably have it on DVD some day, but I won’t be rushing to buy it as soon as it hits the shelves. But it just seemed lacking, in so many ways.
Anyone who has not seen it, don’t be expecting to go and see the traditional sense of Disney’s Alice, its not the same story. That aspect is fine with me, after all, Mr Burton took a great classic like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and reinvented it into a new master piece of its own. He added to the story and changed it and made it vibrant, exciting, melancholy and everything you expect of him. So I think I should be right in expecting this from Alice, after all it has all these elements in abundance, already sewn into its rich tapestry.
The landscapes were truly beautiful, a lot of time and energy obviously crafted and funnelled into the Burton Vision. But that’s really the only stand out part. There were no stand out performances from those key actors, although I do feel Johnny Depp was closest. But still, you expect magnificent things from both himself and Helena Bonham Carter, but they just didn’t steal the scenes. The girl playing Alice, Mia Wasikowska, was good and I loved Anne Hathaway as the White Queen (I just love her generally!), but they seemed to be fighting a battle against a screenplay and dialogue that just didn’t work very well.
There was so much scope to the tale that they tried to tell, and I can’t help but feel had they tried to add an extra twenty minutes on, or upped the certificate and make it darker, they would have completely blown the world away. It felt bitty with not much being followed through. There was potential for a lot more ‘back-story’ and for the Red Queen to be truly menacing and unhinged but it didn’t come across. There was potential for a lot more fear and edge of the seat suspense with the Jabberwocky, but you never really felt any peril. The Mad Hatter I think had moments of sadness and sensitivity that tried to tug on the heart strings but, despite JD’s best attempts, they felt a little hollow and empty.
Regardless of what I had read and listened to about this film, I did indeed have high expectations, and I still don’t think that was wrong. This is THE perfect vehicle for Tim Burton etal, it could have been written for them! And they just didn’t deliver. Alice’s dresses I think stole more scenes than anything else (wow!).
But, despite all this, I still enjoyed it. I still came out smiling and giggling and annoying Steve with the odd quote here and there. Do go and see it (don’t waste money on 3D though, I’m guessing its not worth it) because you will like it, but you will also see what I mean.
It was enough for me, it was a nice story with some of my Hollywood favourites. It just didn’t knock my socks off.