Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Wonderland Teaser

A peak through Tim Burton's looking glass



Curious. I've been wondering for awhile how Johnny Depp's starpower would affect the story, the Mad Hatter being a relatively minor character. At least in trailer form he becomes the narrator of the tale. Teasers sometimes use framing or narrator devices that don't appear in actual films in a sort of "presenting!" way ... but this seems more than likely as a way to expand The Mad Hatter's role.
There is a place...
like no place on Earth.
A land full of wonder, mystery and danger
Some say to survive it you need to be as mad as a hatter...
...which luckily I am
At any rate I hope they don't waste too much time explaining things to the audience. One thing that works absurdly well here is how quick you get to wonderland. The initial story points are so instantly recognizable -- fall down rabbit hole, drink potion, meet an odd array of characters (Tweedlee Dee and Tweedle Dum, The Cheshire Cat, etcetera...) before the more dangerous insanity begins -- that I hope the film doesn't dawdle but speeds through its wonders to keep us as disoriented as Alice.


Once a better quality teaser emerges (this one is so muddy... probably from all the copying and reposting -- the teaser was a blink and you'll miss it affair yesterday) I'll replace this one.

23 comments:

Anna said...

I found the CGI to be too much and actually bad at times. I'm surprised that I'm disappointed in the trailer. Maybe my expectations were too high? It's not surprising that Depp is the focus.

Chris Na Taraja said...

This looks god awful. if you're going that far into CGI, why not just make it animated. Probably would have been an interesting claymation affair. I have no desire to see it.

The only version that doesn't dawdle is the very quick Disney Cartoon adaption, which romps along at a brisk 75 minutes.

Chris Na Taraja said...

I mean CGI claymation like NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHISTMAS and CORPSE BRIDE

Alex said...

Really wanted to see more of Helena Boham Carter :(

SigLNY said...

Burton has the potential to be the ideal director of Alice. But he could also ruin it. Be afraid, be very afraid.

From MTV News:
---------
"Burton's version picks up with Alice (Mia Wasikowska) as a 17-year-old, after she's forgotten her maiden Wonderland voyage and accidentally falls, once again, down the rabbit hole. For Burton, the decision to update the story stemmed from the disjointed storytelling in previous "Alice" movies.

"It's a series of stories," he explained. "For me, that's always been a problem with the movie versions of it. It's always been a girl going from one weird adventure to another, and for me it didn't have much of an impact in the versions I'd seen before. Everyone's crazy. We tried to take the 'Alice' mythology and characters and make a story out of it and be true to the spirit of what 'Alice' is about. The other versions for me suffer because there's no movement to it. It's just one weird event after another. We're trying to ground it a little a bit."

That emphasis on grounding the story extended to Depp's take on the Hatter. "When you look at most interpretations, everything is pretty one-note," Burton said. "With him, we are always trying to find a subtext and layer to it, so it's rooted in humanity to some degree — something deeper than just being nuts."
----------

Cause that's what the Mad Hatter needs! SUBTEXT! Why didn't I think of that? Oy. Why does Burton have such astute aesthetic taste but such obvious and reductive narrative understanding. Creating a "Screenplay 101" story around the Alice mythology is to trade in what made Carroll such a unique storyteller for more-of-same formulaic Hollywood tropes. This instinct dogged him in Sleepy Hollow, obliterated all sense of charm in "Charlie" and it threatened to detour his otherwise sublime "Sweeney." Burton is at once one of the best, most original, and also most frustrating directors out there. Let's hope "Alice" pulls through but, with an adult Alice I fear there is little to be done.

Hayden said...

May I just say I'm seriously disappointed but not at all surprised that, at least for the purposes of marketing, Tim Burton and "the guys who cut the teasers" are making Alice in Wonderland out to be another installment of the Creepy British Johnny Depp Show.

par3182 said...

crispin glover! yay

Mahmoud said...

I feel that it's gonna be disappointing, although Depp-Burton never let me down.

BillBill said...

I thought that it was great. Johnny Depp could probably get some Oscar attention if it had a more voter-friendly release date.

Chris Na Taraja said...

JOhnny Depp will not be up for an oscar for this....Pah-leaze!

Glenn Dunks said...

I actually was thinking that Mia Wasikowska could have emerged as a surprise best actress contender, but a March release sorta pulls the pin on that. I do expect her to be great though.

In regards to what Chris Na Taraja said, I must say... a claymation Alice in Wonderland sounds too good to be true. Alas, I fear Burton has just turned it all into a CGI-fest. I don't even think I noticed one fully constructed set in the entire trailer. All just green screens and obvious effects.

Drew said...

Seriously, enough with the Johnny Depp! The trailer makes it look like the film is about the Mad Hatter. I am so sick of Depp and his shtick in the trailer ain't helping.

Hayden said...

It's just annoying because I feel like we've seen Johnny Depp do this a dozen times. Aesthetically, vocally, it's that same playful lunatic chewing the rich, predictably quirky scenery Tim Burton provides for him.

*Yawn*

I'm all about directors casting regulars, as long as they're pushing each other in ways that are constructive and not repetitive. While I wish a duo like Quentin and Uma did MORE collaborating, I think Johnny, Tim, and Helena could use some real creative space from one another. Pronto.

Jenny said...

Amazing trailer.
Team Burton

Johnny Depp for Oscar 2010?*please*

John said...

I really should read the original Alice in Wonderland before commenting but here goes. I saw an Alice in Wonderland play and of course the Disney movie when I was about 8 or 9 and they were full of fun and whimsy and silliness. I loved it then. But Tim Burton tends to be too dark and moody for me and I agree that Johnny Depp can come across as rather creepy. Sometimes it works for me, sometimes it doesn't. I'll go see it and hope for the best.

Alison Flynn said...

I actually won't be surprised if the Academy gives Depp the Supporting Oscar for this role. For some reason it just fits.

"...The other versions for me suffer because there's no movement to it. It's just one weird event after another. We're trying to ground it a little a bit."

I don't know, for me the charm of the story has always been the fact that one weird event happens after another. And there are other lessons, other points to the story. It's not a mythology. Though if Burton wants to take the idea of 'Alice' mythology and run with it, who am I to say it's the wrong way to go? This could end up being a highly original, well-made new story based on Alice in Wonderland. Or it could be total crap.

We shall see next March.

Janice said...

Nat, you misspelled "peek" at the top of the post. (you're welcome).

I don't think I can improve much on SigLNY's comments, but reading the quote, I wondered if Burton had gone back to the SOURCE material - you know, actually read Carroll's books? Admittedly I have not - but in terms of subtext, is he aware that Carroll's interest was mainly in prepubescent girls and he would lose interest in the girls once they hit puberty/marriagable age? Making Alice adult seems an odd decision - but the fact is that Burton is not remaking the books but creating a new storyline altogether. Now, there's a term for this when it's done by amateur writers - "fan fiction". Housewives and teenage girls have been doing it for decades. And one of the perks of being a famous director I suppose is playing with beloved stories however you like (especially when said story is in public domain and you can't be sued for copywrite infringement.)

But if he is writing a new story "based" on Carroll's stories, then shouldn't he at least change the title to reflect that?

At this point I put Burton in the same catagory with Baz Luhrmann - talent set designers who I once loved as directors and still have great visual imaginations but who have frankly run out of new ideas some time ago, and don't seem to realize it because people are still willing to throw piles of cash at them. (Pardon the run-on sentence.) Why Burton gets less vitriol thrown his way than Luhrmann may be more a function of their personalities than anything else, and perhaps something someone else can answer.

Alison Flynn said...

@Janice: you make some additional great points. And thank you for throwing "fan fiction" in there. People look down on the housewives and teenagers who write that stuff. Burton is a famous director so it's not viewed in that way, but I think it's definitely in that territory.

And I agree with others chimed in on this. Burton is a stunning visual artist and every one of his movies is so strong on style - but that's the problem with almost every one of his movies (except for Sweeney Todd, but I contend that Sondheim's genius source material was so strong that Burton couldn't go wrong, no matter what he did). Even though I enjoy many of Burton's movies so many of them suffer because the style so completely overwhelms the substance. SigLNY mentions Sleepy Hollow, which is a great example of this. Beautiful-looking movie, excellent cast, real campy fun - the superficial elements are all there in top form but the story is filled with plot holes and it just falls apart. Depp was superb in the movie and for me it was his performance that kept the film together to the end.

Alison Flynn said...

And the Baz Luhrmann/Tim Burton comparison is spot on I think. The fact that Burton uses Depp in almost every movie is precisely the reason that he gets less vitriol thrown his way than Luhrmann.

Janice said...

back @Alison: thanks for the feedback! I did not mean to imply btw that "amateur" means bad. (I myself have tried my hand at fanfiction - and some of it was quite bad, some was actually readable, I think) but there are actually some very good writers out there. One has to search out the gems among the dreck, thanks in part to the internet. ("fanfiction" was once upon a time the territory of adult women; now it seems to be dominated by 12-year-old girls.)

I remember the film "Return to Oz" (1985) starring a very young Fairuza Balk and Jean Marsh. Later, I read the Frank Oz novel "Ozma of Oz" and discovered that much of "Return"'s plot belonged to "Ozma" but the filmmaker made major changes - and along the way, changed the title. Of course they had to because the "ozma" character was dropped from the film altogether, but they gave themselves room to play and still be faithful to the spirit of Frank Baum's work. When I first read that Burton was making "Wonderland" I assumed he was literally remaking the story - not making a work of "what happened after..." fanfiction, and I wish the title would clarify that.

Alison Flynn said...

LOL, Janice, I agree that fanfiction is not necessarily a bad thing, although it is very often looked down upon. There are some excellent writers out there who write fanfiction as well as original fiction (and yes, I have written some too - I found it to be a great way to work on certain aspects of my own writing skills).

Burton definitely is heading into that territory, but it will never be acknowledged as such by most people.

BillBill said...

It wasn't some outlandish proposition, so don't try to make my off-the-cuff comment read like something foolish. You can believe that if this is any kind of critical/commercial hit, Johnny Depp will get some kind of Oscar talk for playing the Mad Hatter. What's going against him obviously is Depp/Burton fatigue, a voter-unfriedly release date, and kids fare bias.

JOELE said...

I hope Jeff Bridges with new year 2010 to waken up the Academy Awards to win oscar with Crazy Heart or like supporting The men ...the goats with George Clooney
jOE THE POSTMAN