Sunday, March 14, 2010

like a disappearing kitty . . .

. . . Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland is at times surprising, even annoying, but ultimately ephemeral. It's not likely to stick with me very long, I'm afraid. Helena Bonham Carter unsurprisingly, steals the show, with Crispin Glover a close second. The girl who plays Alice, Mia Wasikowska, is also quite good. The problem, I'm afraid, lies with M. Depp.

I love Johnny Depp and think that he is a phenomenally brave actor and quite talented. But his Mad Hatter is a mess. It's not all his fault. 50% wrong is the character's look. As I've mentioned before, after seeing promos for the movie I thought the overly heavy make-up job on Depp was a huge miscalculation and would distract, rather than delight. And now after seeing the film, the make-up is even more incongruous, as Bonham-Carter's Red Queen, CGI enormous head and all, has much more subtle and effective make-up—it's still out of this world, but not outlandish. But I'm afraid what really sinks the Hatter, however, is how Depp voices him. And how does he, exactly? It must remain a mystery. At times he lisps, at times he has a completely unexplained Scottish brogue. If he spoke a little differently each time so that we could put it down to madness—but no, alas, the performance is less mad than mishmash.

There are other question marks. Burton also inexplicably seems obsessed with skewering eyeballs at various points in the movie which makes the whole experience more than a little creepier than already expected for adults and kiddies alike. And the "good" White Queen seems just as creepy as her red sister. But mostly, the magic was more than a little missing. We saw it in 3-D, which added a little fun, but honestly there was already enough to look at. I continue to be interested in Tim Burton's work, but I haven't really loved anything he's done since Ed Wood. As was voiced by my movie companions, what would really be interesting is for someone to do Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There. Someone, not Tim Burton. Maybe Alfonso Cuaron? Or Guillermo del Toro?


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