Alice in Wonderland 3D
Directed by Tim Burton
Starring Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter
Release date: March 5, 2010
Tim Burton has spent the bulk of his career adding films to his resume that should have made us all rejoice in the idea of seeing his version of Alice in Wonderland. His imaginative style had the potential to lend itself to a classic version of the Lewis Carroll books. Technology and animation has caught up to Carroll’s imagination which should have provided an open canvas to bring the cherished story to life. Even in the able hands of someone who should be able to pull it off, it turns out that isn’t such a good thing.
Somewhere in the last few years filmmakers have become clouded with this notion that 3D is some kind of art form and it seems like every other movie is being converted to 3D, even ones that have no business being in the discussion. For the life of me I cannot figure out why they have yet to realize it is just a gimmick. There is no doubt Avatar changed our perception of what is possible but everybody else is light years behind the curve and until they figure it out, 3D will remain a joke that brings nothing to the table. Just because the glasses are a little cooler than they were 20 years ago doesn’t mean we should all hop back on the bandwagon. It went away before for a reason and it was brought back without really fixing the problem.
Even in a movie like Alice in Wonderland , where 3D should work, it is used as nothing more than a tiring sequence of things flying at the screen. Not because it adds depth to the story, but because some idiot in the back row will “˜ooh’ and “˜ahh’. Even the quieter moments without action weren’t impressive. It always seemed clunky and out of place. As soon as you can point out the technology, it becomes a distraction. I realize there is the option of choice in viewing formats but Alice in Wonderland was always intended to be a 3D vehicle. When one of the main selling points of a movie ends up taking you out of the story, it might be time to rethink your process. Plus, I am growing tired of saying and hearing the phrase, “Well, it looks cool but”¦”
So I should have just seen it in regular 2D, right? Maybe, but the same argument can be said for the performances. The big names, mostly Burton staples, were intended to realize what appeared to be inspired casting. Unfortunately, rather than asserting themselves seamlessly into the vision Burton created, they all take turns trying to be the court jester until it turns into the Which-Character-Can-Be-More-Annoying Hour. Johnny Depp is on the shortlist of actors I would have liked to see play the Mad Hatter, but he has appeared in so many Burton movies that singularity between his characters is starting to blur. They are all becoming the same character. It plays out like Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter imitating Johnny Depp in every other Tim Burton movie. It’s like a lifetime achievement award montage if you put in all the average parts. Helena Bonham Carter is in the same boat. She was given the freedom to shriek and chew her way through every syllable of dialogue and she took full advantage. A lot of people will like her as the Red Queen but I thought it was unbelievably grating.
There have been many adaptations of the Alice novels. I give credit to Burton for trying to make a definitive version (why else would you make it if not to be the best version available?) but from where I am sitting, something got lost in the shuffle. The often erratic structure of the books are restricted to a plot-pointed story barreling towards a joyless climax. Burton should have been able to hold it together but there isn’t enough of his imprint on the movie to make it work.