Monday, July 12, 2010

Thoughts I Had While Watching... Alice in Wonderland

[Sigh]. You guys...

"Where have you been lurking?"

I've been meaning to write about Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland for weeks now. But every time I so much as thought about doing so I felt a pit in my stomach as deep as that rabbit hole to Underland. I hate the movie sooooooo much. The flames... breathing... on the side of my face.

Why must it exist to taunt me with its billion dollar gross? Way to reward a filmmaker for lazy stagnation. Just pick a famous property, collect your usual coconspirators and then throw shit at the screen. Literally! You can convert it to 3D later. A billion dollars will be yours! As long as the masses recognize the title and you have a bankable star, you're gold. (See also: Sherlock Holmes).

I can't bear to watch the movie a second time. I usually skim back over when I write about films -- so these are just a few scattered thoughts expanded from my notes and my tortured memories of the nightmare witnessed.

<--- Alice sees a green spotted pig because, why the hell not? Nothing has to make any sense. The very essence of the property robs the lazy of having to pick which of their visual ideas to use.


What was with the "Underland" thing anyway? If you wanna get cute about messing with the title, at least have the balls to change it. Tim Burton's Alice in Underland would still be a stinking pile, but a rose by any other name would not smell as rancid. It can be quite enjoyable and fascinating to see artists riff on past stories, concepts and ideas from previous artists which is why we should all be thankful for the public domain (which greedy corporations are always trying to end... as if they had any hand in the original blood sweat and tears creativity). Once a story has been around for 50-75 years, shouldn't it belong to the world in actuality the way it belongs to the world in the abstract sense?

But just because you can riff on a past work, doesn't mean you should. Especially if you have nothing of value to add.

Mia Wasikowska is a pretty young thing but Alice is a dud. And she's even slightly ugly of personality at the end. Why does the screenplay make her mean spirited? At the end of the movie she actually humiliates her suitor by mentioning an unattractive health problem he has (I forget what it was). Yes, she is right to refuse the marriage offer from Lord Doofus (I don't care what his character name is, it matters not). But to humiliate him while doing so? Most lazy pandering movies present the unsuitable suitor as SO unsuitable that virtually no one should ever marry them. Said suitor should die miserable and alone. Remember WAY back in the day (a decade back, I guess) when movie women did not have hateful suitors or fiancees? As recently as the 90s filmmakers used to trust the audience to understand the nuance of "this guy is not right for her, which is too bad because he's kind of cool/nice." (see Reality Bites, Sleepless in Seattle and others). It wasn't always "this guy MUST be humiliated because he is so awful and oh, the very thought of her with him! You go girl, dump his ugly/insufferable/rude/unfeeling/cheating ass!" I swear to God Hollywood thinks we all have the EQs of lint. "This character good *grunt*. This character bad *grunt*."

Wouldn't her film-ending decision have had more gravitas if she had to say no to a good guy because, the dull domestic life wasn't for her. She's made for larger world travelling ambitions. Wouldn't that be more stirring? Something to actually think about while the credits played? I mean who wouldn't run from the life choice presented her? What kind of a character arc is that?

But her ugly insult and lame story arc is only a tiny thing. Everything in the film is ugly, whether by design, color combinations or sheer excess: The sets, the busy costumes, the special effects. Even Anne Hathaway is ugly and how is that possible exactly? That's not possible without the aid of hideous lighting and makeup design.

It's hard to feel bad about The Court and its way of life being destroyed in The Mad Hatter's backstory exposition flashback scene because that is ALSO garish. Sure, burn it down. No one will miss it.

Johnny & Helena & Alan
Johnny Depp has starred in seven Tim Burton films. The first two collaborations are classics (Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood) The third is solid (Sleepy Hollow). Thereafter its tough to argue that he was necessary or even right for any of the roles. You can't be a daring unpredictable weirdo icon if you become totally safe, predictable and familiar in your daring unpredictable weirdness. These things don't go together. MOVE ON.

The only actors who seem to be working above the material are Alan Rickman, a droll voice choice for the stoned caterpillar with that resonating slightly phlegmy bass of his and Helena Bonham-Carter. Her red queen is the saving grace of the film. Or rather the life raft. The film is not saved but her impeccable timing and focused stylization generally make her scenes tolerable. It's even hard to be annoyed by the nonstop CGI "help" because she knows what she's doing and she's doing it skillfully.

"You've lost your muchness."
This line, spoken by the Mad Hatter to Alice is a good one. It could well apply to Tim Burton, though. He has definitely lost his muchness. In its absence, he compensates with MUCH. The film is always always always too much. Every scene is tricked up with gaseous CGI swirls as if the celluloid can't stop farting.

Even the Chesshire Cat, usually a textbook example of the simplicity of great illusions, doesn't really disappear so much as dissapate into computer generated fumes. Adding to the smell is the distinct impression that the print had been urinated on by someone with a Jabberwocky sized bladder. Why was garish yellow their color of choice?

The movie's over compensating muchness, most obvious in its hideous color palette, busy f/x detailing (wait, this quarter of the frame is empty... throw some weird animal into it! Hurry!!!) and super long redundant sequences which manage to convey exactly one idea each -- fall, chase, fly, fight, etcetera -- reminded me of four other movies. George Lucas's entire ugly Star Wars prequel trilogy has a similar redundancy of one note scenes as well as a shared affinity for grotesque but unappealing creature designs. And most of the action sequences, lamely executed to a one, reminded of that patience testing dinosaur run in King Kong. King Kong was a fairly successful remake but that one scene stuck out like a sore thumb. It added virtually nothing to the story, it was redundant visually, it was OBVIOUSLY special effects (so the film stopped feeling seamless) and it went on forever... at least twice its justifiable length.

These are not good things to be reminded of.

<--- "Goodbye sweet hat"

Some final statistics & observations
  • Running time in Underland: 108 minutes
  • Running time in Nathaniel's apartment: 108 hours
  • Length of time before I became annoyed: 41 seconds. I blame the absolutely unsurprising score by Danny Elfman. Same as it ever was. I liked his score for Milk a lot recently. Step away from the Burton, Danny Elfman, Danny Elfman.
  • Standard length of time before Nathaniel usually starts shifting uncomfortably in his seat hoping that the movie will soon end: 91 minutes (comedy) / 109 minutes (drama) / never (A/A- minus level movies. I just watched The Best Years of Our Lives which is 172 minutes long and I could have watched an additional 220 minutes if William Wyler had only let me. But that's a topic for a forthcoming post.)
  • Moment in which I stopped hating the movie briefly but can't for the life of me remember why: Something about the Mad Hatter in his new office making hats for The Red Queen.
  • Percentage of scenes with more f/x than there needed to be: 89%
  • Missed opportunities for subtext: ∞

  • Last time it was super easy to love a Tim Burton live-action movie without reservations: 1996's Mars Attacks!
  • Last time Tim Burton made a truly excellent movie: 1994's Ed Wood
  • Moment I began to suspect that Alice was by far the worst movie Tim Burton had ever made: The 43 second sequence in which Alice falls down through the green scree -- rabbit hole and keeps on falling. And keeps on falling. And kept on falling through sloppy green screens and random imagery, furniture and obstacles that she had to duck or collide with. Was it a movie? A video game level? A test reel? A bad drug trip? Whatever it was, it was pointless. I don't know if you've ever timed other big movie sequences but 43 seconds is a really long time. You can fit a lot into 43 seconds if you aren't phoning it in or editing on quaaludes.
  • Offscreen moment of which I am most ashamed: Wishing Helena Bonham-Carter and Tim Burton would have a horrible row and break up for good. One should never wish ill on happy couples. But she's such a good actress and she's just stuck in ever worsening movies.

  • Number of times I wished that Anne Hathaway had never seen Amy Adams' Enchanted performance: 1,194
  • Number of times you miss something 3D cool if you watch it in 2D: 0
  • Number of times I thought about great Tim Burton films wistfully: 94
  • Number of times I even wished I was watching Planet of the Apes or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: 4
  • Number of times I lost the will to live: 1*
  • Number of times I actually died: 0
  • Number of future films by Tim Burton I'd like to see: ...guess.

*I made it all the way through this article without once mentioning Johnny Depp's breakdancing. Wait, oops!


Matt said...

I agree.

Alice in Wonderland is lousy and I'm sick of Tim Burton working with Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter (who I thought was the least awful part of the film).

Ed Wood is pretty awesome though!

Neel Mehta said...

This movie was completely unnecessary. The definitive trippy Alice in Wonderland was made 25 years ago, in the form of a Tom Petty music video.

Still classic. More Tim Burtonesque than Tim Burton's version.

Movies with Abe said...

I must say, even though I actually liked the movie quite a bit (, your review is highly entertaining. I saw it back in March and haven't thought much about it since then, so I wouldn't dare try to debate you point-by-point or in general. Regardless, it's a fun review even if you hated the movie. I had a similar fun time trashing The Last Airbender (my review will be posted tonight).

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

I think I realise your hatred is a subjective thing, so it's unfair to question you point by point but some of your thoughts really pique my interest.

The first being, though I don't love Burton as much as some, I still consider Big Fish and Corpse Bride to be two of the strongest films of the last decade. In fact, I'd call the latter my favourite animated I don't really buy the hate
that he's lost "it".

What really interests me is your lack of love for Anne. I said before, I don't like her but I think she does multitudes with the role (surely, not like Giselle). I get the feeling the White Queen is just as nefarious as her sister, just better at showing it...and I LOVE Atwood's costumes (almost like artwork).

I agree on Waskikowska's blandness and HBC's awesomeness though. "I love a warm pig for my aching feet" is one of my favourite line readings of the year thus far.

I'm sorry you loathed it so, pity.

SoSueMe said...

Now I have to see this movie just to see what all the fuss is about! Great (and funny) review Nathaniel!

I'm interested to see what Tim B. might do with Dark Shadows...hopefully he'll make it genuinely scary, and not quirky.

I'd rather he revisit Beetlejuice with a sequel though.

Ian said...

"Sherlock Holmes" was great. Don't lump that with this awful "Alice in Wonderland" remake. I don't mind DEPP/BURTON/CARTER working together so much (they have their shorthand that works for them, so more power to 'em), but why can't they pick material that's out of their wheelhouses once in a while? Maybe crime noir or sci-fi or another period piece. I don't care what it is, just change it up some, guys!

City_Of_Lights said...

I saw Alice in 2D. Thank God otherwise I think I would have walked out of the theater with that bs coming at me!
I was bored to death with the exception of HBC and the cat. At first I thought maybe I am too attached to the Disney version but everyone I know was let down. Hated most of the casting. In the end I didn't like it, and let it go. I'm not really a Burton or Depp fan [exceptions: Pee Wee's Big Adventure and Donnie Brasco]. But what has me worried is the Dark Shadows film they are doing together. I really hope this isn't a sign of things to come because they really have to get the tone and characterizations right for it to work...on a fan level and for people who have never watched DS.

So disappointed the Hatter lost his muchness. Have Burton and Depp lost it too? Public Enemies was nothing but an exercise in Depp porn for Depp fanatics (minus the lovely Cotillard).

Neel Mehta, totally agree.

Volvagia said...

5 Points:


I admit, it was good, but could Depp be a more generic/overly mainstream choice at this point? A couple less mainstream weirdos to think about:

Richard E. Grant
Bruce Campbell (Why not drop the stupid alternating (Brit/Scot) accent?)

2. Who decided on the atrocious dancing?

3. Yes, Alan Rickman and H-B C were great.

4. It needed a smaller cast. There's 15 cast memebers, but they could have easily cut 8 (Tim Spall, Frances de la Tour, Paul Whitehouse, Michael Gough, Stephen Fry, Christopher Lee (why did the Jabberwocky even have a voice?), Crispin Glover and Barbara Windsor) and still had close to the same movie, yet better.

5. The falling sequence was the right length, but way too busy. My aunt fell asleep after 20 minutes, right around that sequence.

Overall, it's a beautiful if messily so movie that is a C overall. A+ for beauty, D in every other aspect. Clunky dialogue, pandering plot, overly weird, too little happening, mostly forgettable performances and no "sympathy" scenes for anyone.

cal roth said...

I love Edward and Ed Wood, but Burton's ultimate classic is Corpse Bride, sorry. A/A-.

I haven't seen this one, but I don't think this is such a bad path for HBC if Burton manages to make a good film again. Before Burton she was Corset Helena with occasional outré choices.

I don't want her to go back to corsets, since we don't have a James Ivory today (is he retired?) and she would be the mother of Keira Knightley.

I'd like to see HBC in a run of contemporary dramas with NO stylization.

She is so easily typecast...

Jeremy Heilman said...

Well done... This is a horrendous movie, clearly one of the year's worst. In fact, I've been attempting to sway fellow Razzie voters to vote for (against?) it, but it seems like they are more content to focus their hate toward lame "star" vehicles that no one will remember in a year (e.g. The Bounty Hunter) and moronic parodies like Vampires Suck instead of inexplicable billion-dollar-grossing fiascoes like this one.

Yes, something like The Last Airbender might have technically worse, but it's hard to imagine that anything will represent lazy, squandered potential more than Burton's mess.

adam k. said...

I'm glad I never wasted any time or money on this. I had a strong instinct to avoid it based on the fact that I kind of hated Burton's last kid flick remake (Charlie & the Chocolate Factory) and was only lukewarm on his last take on an established property (Sweeney Todd), and am generally annoyed at his apparent view that EVERY famous story/play/previous film would be just as good or better with Depp, HBC, and a quirky goth vibe. I'm totally over Burton at this point. LOVE Edward Scissorhands, enjoyed the recent Corpse Bride, liked a lot of things about his Sweeney even though it was a missed opportunity on so many levels... but I will NEVER watch another remake of his unless it has universally great reviews and/or doesn't use Depp or Bonham-Carter. And I'll think twice now about seeing anything he makes at all. He's gotten SO aesthetically lazy, and kind of arrogant in his "look how little effort I have to put in in order to make a giant hit" posturing.

Why are so many great auteurs' worst or least interesting films the ones that make the big bucks and/or win oscars? This, Forrest Gumo, Ben Button... seems like there are a lot of examples of that.

In happier news, I also watched The Best Years of Our Lives recently and agree that it's great.

Michael C. said...

Thank you for this.

I thought I was going crazy earlier this year with everyone saying all kinds of nice things about this movie. Then to see it go on to make a bajillion dollars was salt in the wound. I wanted stagger through the streets grabbing people by the lapel and shouting, "Have you all lost your mind?! It's awful. Awful!" And you didn't even get around to discussing the appalling action finale. Dear God.

I almost wanted to go see The Last Airbender just so in December I can proclaim with authority that Alice is, in fact, the year's worst.

Benji said...

I didn't like the movie either, but for me it was actually Helena Bonham Carter that stood out like a sore thumb. I found her extremely lazy in her role, just following a textbook for the stereotypical Red Queen (or rather Queen of Hearts in the books).
That said, I can't stand another Johnny Depp weirdo performance. It is just not exciting anymore...

Adam said...

You've hit on everything that makes this walking nightmare haunt my dreams except Depp's impromptu dance after the final battle. The whole film is a full-on assault of good taste and common decency, but that dance is enough to cause hysterical blindness. Should the hideous, gray aesthetic be substituted for the flashiness of Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I imagine it would induce seizures in small children and animals. My eyes are still bleeding.

Relive the dance here:

Alex said...

I have yet to see the movie, but it's good to be forewarned.

And did I REALLY just see a "Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean" joke? Really?

Billy Held An Oscar said...

Bonham Carter & Burton are a macabre version of Mia & Woody.

Robert William Berg said...

Could not agree more. I wasn't only bored silly by this film but actively offended at its very existence.

Philip said...

I've been sick of the Tim Burton = Johnny Depp + Helena Bonham Carter equation for the longest time now, and I'm glad I didn't waste money on this movie.

Noecitos said...

I hated the movie (but I enjoyed Helena and Anne) but it is unfair of you to complain of the weird animals when you put Avatar (which looked like a new Pokémon game) on your top 5 of 2009.

I think Avatar is more despisable (I'm not sure this word exists) than Alice, and Alice is very despisable...

James T said...

Loved this post!

But really, don't die! Imagine afterlife being a theater where you watch this movie again and again but with Rene as the Red Queen. The horror!!


@Adam -- if you follow the asterisk on "lost my will to live" you will see the very scene of which you seek. MOST UNHOLY. possibly the worst scene of any film in a decade or more.

@Noecitos -- i disagree. the world of Pandora was very carefully constructed. all the animals looked like they belonged to that same world and there was a consistency about the vision. I get why some people would hate it... for me Avatar's neon works despite "shouldn't work" but I have rarely seen a movie as straight up ugly as Alice on Wonderland.

@Billy -- good point. but hopefully they're happier offscreen since onscreen they've become a nightmare (it's like the REVERSE of woody & mia who were so wonderful on screen)

@Michael C -- dear god. now you've put that in my head. I may have to do the same.

@Volvagia -- beautiful? Too me it's the definition of hideous. but beauty is in the eye of the beholder i guess.

Walter L. Hollmann said...

Every time I think of this movie, I get the urge to claw my eyes out. And then you mentioned the breakdancing, surely one of the most offensive cinematic crimes in the history of the medium. Johnny Depp, you're on probation. For the first time, I find myself wincing at the idea of another Burton film. Alice. Sucks.

Oh, and why would she tell Frances de la Tour to stop imagining things that made her hopeful? Is that really what she learned in Wonderland? Really?

Wait, why the hell was Frances de la Tour even in this movie?

Mike said...

I would love to see Helena (who in my estimation is one of the best and most underrated actresses of our time) go against type and work with new directors as well, but I fear opportunities would be scarce for a woman of her age. The upside about being Burton's muse is that she'll always have steady work, and as you said, she is quite good at elevating poor material.

Brian said...

Michael, Nathaniel, I encourage you both to try that Last Airbender gambit. It's by no means a perfect movie, but I liked it about a million times better than Alice, and also much better than the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe or the Golden Compass or anything else in the CGI-other-wordly-fantasy genre I can think of since the Lord of the Rings movies.

I suspect Airbender's particularly low RT score is the result of a perfect storm: 1) over-protective fans of the cartoons, 2) knives drawn (justifiably, sure, but why against this film more than against Hollywood in general) about the non-Asian casting controversy, and 3) a general desire to see Shyamalan's career killed. (which I personally don't share, having liked ire-magnets Signs and the Village quite a lot) There's just no way the film deserves to be overall more poorly reviewed than Lady in the Water and the Happening, based solely on what's up there on the screen.

pomme said...

you're a nasty boy here!
the movie is just tasteless and irritating of "nothing"/easiness/predictability

pomme said...

and as every no Tim Burton Fan, my fav Burton movie is "Ed Wood"

okinawaassault said...

Since other commenters have done it, here's my watery review of Alice Alice's ending is more interesting than everything else. In the movie, she frees herself from Lord Who and conquers China. Were there colonialism undertones to the actual Alice story?

Big Fish is awesome.

@ cal roth I think James Ivory has been dead for five years now. *debbiedowner

Michael C. said...

Am I the only one who's terrified this is going to get some Oscar nominations in the craft categories just because of the overbearing excess of it all?

john said...

Brian, how can you like the Airbender film over a film with La Kidman and another with The Swinton...and both being in icy bitch mode too!


Michael C... you're not the only one.

I'm terrified to think of this as an Oscar nominee but I suspect we're looking at

costume design
and maybe even art direction


Volvagia said...

I didn't like Avatar, to the tune of a C+. Not for the look, but for the fact that: It's James Cameron trying to pretend he can tell a great story. T1: Very good. More for the set pieces than the plot. A- (I take a third of a grade for Linda Hamilton's weirdo haircut.) Aliens: Great performance and also set pieces, but not a well written movie. A T2: Another set of amazing set-pieces off set by 1 excellent performance and another great line delivery ("I need your clothes, your boots and your motorcycle.") A+ Titanic: Only worth it for the CGI. DiCaprio and Winslet were just dressing. Not that any actor deserved a top 5 for this, but I'd say Kathy Bates falls into position 6. B
He's convinced himself he's a story teller, even though the prior evidence suggests otherwise. He's the premier action director for a reason, but he's abandoned that for a self-important sci-fi that plays against his strengths.

Brian said...

John, I think you've just given me a cause to out myself as a "non-Actressexual". I do like both Swinton and Kidman, but not to the point where their presence can do much to save a dully-realized film. None of the performers in the Last Airbender are particularly good at their line readings, but the consistant unreality of the acting is in a way less distracting than seeing natural actors like Swinton and Kidman trying to interact in an inorganic universe.

cal roth said...

@okinawa Googled it. Ivory is not dead. His partner, Ismail Merchant, is.

He is not retired. He's just directed a movie, The City of Your Final Destination, but I am assuming nobody heard of it.

Volvagia said...

Costume design? I don't buy that. Why? Other than Alice, the "real world" stuff is plain. The other 6 costumes are great, if excessive, but I think they'll want more extravangent cloth used than that. Art Direction: Toss up because of the amount of CGI and empty battlefields. Makeup: Probably. Depp's Hatter is a triumph of that if nothing else.'h I mean VFX: You have to ask?


volvagia -- shit. i hadn't even thought of that. with the expanded F/X category, it'll probably make it in . 5 nominees. wow. we are going to see CRAP movies in this category from here on out (because they still don't get how award worthy "supporting" f/x can be (like in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or in the recent James Bond movies)

brian -- interesting perspective about great actors in inorganic environments. i shall have to think it over.

Criticlasm said...

I wrote on this myself when it came out because the movie bugged me, mostly because they took a story with whimsy and curiosity that has kept everyone from children to political theorists rapt for over a century and made it into a trite, predictable piece of eye mush.

So, um, I agree. Love the stats. You know it's bad when there are stats. Mine's for the Twilight movie - 10:38 before I just turned it off.

Andrew R. said...

I thought the movie was simply mediocre. Not F worthy, more like C-. Bonham-Carter certainly helped a lot. ("I love a warm pig belly for my aching feet.")

And we won't discuss the breakdancing. When that happened, I heard a noise...the sound of Tim Burton jumping the shark. Bring back movies about people named Ed or Edward, Tim Burton!

And why...WHY did he enlarge Bonham-Carter's head? It's big enough! The white makeup didn't help either...I have made countless jokes about how she seems to have a thing against sunlight.

If this film gets a costume nomination at the Oscars, I'll live. But makeup and art direction? NOOOOOOOOO! PLEASE! NOOOO!

And Johnny Depp...please, go work with someone else now. Enough.

Rant's over.

Volvagia said...


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Leo DiCaprio? The poster suggests they want someone baby faced and creepy in his own way. Done and done. Plus, there's the persona mock angle by doing it right after The Aviator.

Corpse Bride: Nervous, stylish, gentleman type having to deal with romance issues? James McAvoy.

Sweeney Todd: Brooding, intense, British psycho around 45-50. A first try with Richard E. Grant? (Music optional)

Alice in Wonderland: Mentioned already.

Dark Shadows: Suave American Vampire that can pass for 40? Bruce Campbell, definitely. He looks young for his age, like most actors, circa 2009.

Kyle said...

As more and more movies bomb over the course of this summer, I keep getting scared that somehow this piece of garbage will get Best Pic consideration on audience goodwill alone.

Anonymous said...

I agree that this movie was GOD AWFUL...but Burton's 2 films prior (Sweeney Todd and Corpse Bride) were both really good and Big Fish before that wasn't bad. I think it's a little quick to write him off after all the great things he's done...just felt like this one was really uninspired and lazy. He's normally pretty damn good at keeping his movies under one vision but this bad

OtherRobert said...

I liked Carter and the costumes. That's it. I wish there was more emphasis on both.

Volvagia said...

As for Helena Bonham Carter? I've always found her perfect and impeccabley placed in her Burton roles. May he always bless his movies with something for her to do. Just, not so much Depp.


Kyle -- don't put that thought out into the universe. it would have to be the worst best picture nominee of all time.

No Bad Movies said...

My mom LOVED it but she is a 68 year old movie simpleton. Movie buffs are different than the average movie goer. In fact I kne w a few friends who are casual movie goers that liked it and when I laughed at that they were offended. They are not seeing what you see Nathaniel. That's the dfference right there.
Sorry mom, I still love you even though you really LOVED Alice.
And did you see what Burton's next film is ? Is it the Jolie pic or Frankenweenie ?

The Jaded Armchair Reviewer said...

I never did understand why we are supposed to root for any of the protagonists let alone Anne Hatahway's White Queen who was constructed to be so deranged. HBC's Red Queen had all the motivation and explanations about why she was the way she was and we're supposed to believe she is the bad guy? She got screwed over by her entire family and is constantly disrespected because of her surface qualities. Such a shallow exercise.

Let's face it, Johnny Depp has turned into the guy we all thought was a charming weirdo until he just kept doing it cause people gave attention and paid him big so he needs to constantly remind us about it in order to protect his "thing."


no bad -- god. i love the frankenweenie short. I don't want that to become a feature given how Burton is now.

Ryan said...

Oooh thanks! I really needed a pick-me-up tonight, and an evisceration + a Clue quote really helped.

No Bad Movies said...

Burton's next few projects on the slate don't exactly excite me. I may be in the minority but I don't care about Maleficent. The others are Dark Shadows and his version of The Adams Family. Hasn't that alrerady been done ? And was the original Dark Shadows that great of a TV series worthy of a motion picture based on it ?

Alison Flynn said...

Thanks for posting your thoughts on this, Nat. I was interested in reading what you had to say about the movie, especially after seeing the grade you gave it - I knew you didn't like it but I thought you might be more charitable since you've liked other Burton movies, lol.

I agree with every single thing you said in this write-up.

@No bad: I think a lot of what's listed on Burton's InDevelopment imdb page is based on rumor. Dark Shadows is the only one that he's doing for sure. The other two were rumors that were started earlier this year and which I hope to God don't end up having any basis in fact. There were already two Addams Family movies and I don't really need to or care to see Burton's take on it. As for Maleficent - just no.

TheDudeinFlames said...

errr...I seem to remember you giving Sweeney Todd a B+ (I also strongly disagree with your thoughts on Johnny Depp in that film, he was amazing, but I digress)

Rick said...

To No Bad Movies....

I am 68 years old and hated everything about the movie...

Don't you dare lump everyone together b/c it makes YOU the simpleton!

Chris in WV said...

All I'll say is that this movie makes Tim Burton no longer my favorite director. His artistic vision made me fall in love with him with "Big Fish", "Edward Scissorhands", his "Batman" outtings, and "Ed Wood", among others. I could stand "Planet of the Apes" so he could make some money. "Sweeney Todd" was great to me, besides some singing problems.

This movie was just pretty bad. Overwrought visuals, pathetic writing, despaired acting from far too talented performers. Depp and Burton are the ones who need a breakup. He needs to spread his wealth. I loved him in "Finding Neverland" and "Blow"; why not try that again! Bonham-Carter needs to look at her past: "Fight Club", "Howard's End", "A Room with a View", "Wings of a Dove"? You have depth and talent and RANGE (something quite rare: EM Forster and Chuck Palahniuk are VERY different storytellers) How about you step away from your boyfriend and go try elsewhere. Hathaway: you followed an Oscar-nomination (and should have been win--sorry Kate, but if you would've been nominated for "Revolutionary Road", I would've said different) with this load? Get back to "Rachel Getting Married", or, hell, "The Princess Diaries" (guilty pleasure).

Whoops, guess I said a little about the movie. Can't wait to see if Burton can EVER redeem himself and direct an original thing again. But in the meantime, any suggestions for a new favorite director?

lolalo said...

i don't know about others... but i just don't like Mia ways of acting... she looks still, and not into the character so much

Damian said...

Nicely done, Nathaniel. There is nothing more enjoyable sometimes than reading a scathing review of a movie someone hated.

Lately I find that I've been referring to ALICE IN WONDERLAND as "Tim Burton's HOOK." In other words, it's... (deep breath) "a major Hollywood filmmaker's thoroughly unnecessary and rather indulgent sequel to a classic English tale which, although I did enjoy it, I can't really say is a good movie--though there were some good elements in it including bright colors, flashy special effects and a memorable villain,--in spite of the fact that it contains a sequence that briefly depicts scenes from its well-known precedent story and which reminds me of the fact that at that particular moment THAT is the movie I'd rather be watching."

(exhales) Whew!

MD said...

Ah, this movie. I don't think I've ever suffered as much in a cinema. I thought Anne Hathaway got off lightly. She didn't have to talk much.

And the one moment that put me off Alice completely was when she told her crazy aunt that she was crazy. When did that become even remotely necessary? I don't know.

vg21 said...

This was priceless:). Though I'm sorry for your suffering, Nathaniel. I didn't like Alice either, but for me it was the hideous writing, the cringe-inducing dialogue that undermined the whole experience. Also, I didn't really enjoy Mia Wasikowska here either, though it may be because of the wrong costume and make-up choices making her look even paler than usual. I still have to see it in English (it was dubbed, of course - I really hate it) to hear Alan Rickman's velvety voice. Well, maybe only his scenes.

No Bad Movies said...

Rick I didn't call everyone simpletons but my mom is. She thinks stuff like He's Just Not That Into You or What Happens In Vegas are masterpieces. You know the kind of movie goer that's easily amused and doesn't break down premise, dialogue, acting ability, direction, cinematography etc. It's just a fact that there are people that like romcoms, and car chases and really flashy, bright things.

I couldn't break down a film to my mon. She wouldn't know what I was talking about. It's be like a foreign language to her.
That's the difference between movie goers.
But I never generalized in saying " everyone ".

Y Kant Goran Rite said...

Wow - I think I felt every single one of those things while watching Baz Luhrmann's Australia.

The spice said...

I laughed sooooooo much :) - Oh, lovely Madeline Kahn.

You know, if you think about the average viewer's secret expectation that Alice is going to find Wonderland in China, 43 seconds is really not that long for a fall time.


@MD -- i should have mentioned that Crazy Aunt scene (I think i expected that they'd pick up the thread later once Alice became more imaginative?) because it fits in with the humiliation of the Lord she dumps. Why is Alice mean?

I'm not against lead characters with unsympathetic qualities (the way you often hear audiences are) but there has to be a nugget of interesting personality or something to root for and all I saw was dull, indecisive and mean. Not a good lead character.

@Damian -- ooh. totally good reference point. HOOK is the moment that totally put me off Spielberg and I've never fully reembraced (though he's had two great moments since)

@YKant -- ouch.

Andrew R. said...

@Nathaniel, regarding Kyle's Best Picture Nominee Comment-One, it won't be nominated. The amount of Oscar bait that comes out in December amazes me each year, plus Kids are All Right and Inception are practically locked in for the summer slots. (Inception's reviews, thus far, are mostly raves. HOORAY!)

Two, it wouldn't be the worst nominee ever. Ever see Airport? (Not the hilarious comedy, the film which won Helen Hunt an Oscar. Oddly enough, she was the best part of it and fully nomination worthy, though a win is a bit dumb.) Love Story? Broadway Melody? Dr. Doolittle? Cavalcade? Cimarron?

Granted, you gave this movie an F, I didn't, and I have no idea what you gave the movies cited above...but still. It would be a pretty dreadful nominee if it was nominated, but it won't be the worst. AND IT WON'T BE NOMINATED FOR BEST PICTURE.

It seems a very likely nominee in minor categories, but considering NORBIT was nominated for makeup, that means it won't even come close to being the worst Oscar-nominee ever. Considering three of the movies mentioned above WON Best Picture, the Academy has done MUCH worse.

So...relax. It won't be nominated in major categories, particularly Best Picture. It probably will be nominated in Costumes (fine), Makeup (OK, that would suck) and Visual Effects (eh, we've had worse), but that is really it.


Volvagia said...

1. That's why I can't give this an F. Because if this is an F, Norbit is an F-.

2. Helen Hayes, not Hunt. 20 Year Time Gap.


An F i reserve for movies that i wish had never existed. And this one qualifies.

vg21 said...

"I'm not against lead characters with unsympathetic qualities (the way you often hear audiences are) but there has to be a nugget of interesting personality or something to root for..."

Exactly! I almost commented on how alienating Alice was in this movie. The screenwriter of The Devil Wears Prada said that they had really wanted to show an appealing, seductive side to Miranda as well as the sacrifices she had to make for her success so that Andy's behaviour was justified as well as the audience could relate to and not only hate her. Unlike in the book, where she is a really one-dimensonal character, who you just cannot care about and I had the same feeling with Alice - a very distracting, unappealing and alienating protagonist, creepy and mean.

Volvagia said...

I say that because Norbit is 1. Dumb. 2. Plain looking. 3. Racist and 4. Has characters that have no personality. I can forgive any of the above on their own if other aspects are better (Intelligence, well developed characters, amazing visuals, or moral impeachability. Transformers: C-. Transformers 2: D. 2012: A weird sort of A, mostly because of the hilarious "we've got to drive through the sinking California", "we must meet crazy Woody Harrelson" and "we just have to drive away from a fireball spitting volcano" scenes.) Why an A? After those scenes, it gets much more plausible, but counting how many times they should have died in the first 90 minutes was a weird sort of humour.

Henry said...

Interesting, 'cause it turned out that I liked the film when I first saw it on DVD. I especially enjoyed Bonham Carter as the Red Queen. But I could see where people might have a problem with this film. Actually, it's very much how I regarded Charlie and The Chocolate Factory (still absolutely hate that film), yet it seemed like I was the only one who thought so. Eh...

AliceFreakyFan said...

You're stupid. You can't appreciate talent! Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway--they're all great! And Burton did a GREAT job! The ending was great! It's a movie get over it! I don't like Twilight but you don't see me posting shit bashing it! Get over yourself! If you don't like it, keep it to yourself and people who care! And don't watch it if you don't like it--DUHH!

David Portrugheis - Film Composer said...

It's such a shame, I felt truly disappointed with this film... Disney's is still my absolute favourite, after the book of course!

Alison Flynn said...

Oh my. I just saw this bit reposted from a wiki article (referencing a Playbill article that isn't available online):

Walt Disney Theatrical is already in early talks with Burton and screenwriter Linda Woolverton to develop the property as a Broadway musical. Woolverton authored the screenplay for Disney's The Lion King and is also the Tony Award-nominated book writer of Beauty and the Beast, Aida and Lestat. Burton will also render the overall designs for the stage musical. Woolverton will adapt her screenplay for the stage production. Neither a composer nor songwriting team has been chosen yet. Robert Roth is set to helm the stage musical that will have choreography by Matt West. The duo also collaborated on Disney's first Broadway outing, Beauty and the Beast.

Ugh. If I remember correctly when Tim Burton was interviewed prior to the Sweeney Todd film being released he said he doesn't like Broadway musicals, so it's pretty curious to me that he'd be involved in this to any extent.

Do not want at all.

Dan said...

My one reoccurring thought was: this can't be as bad as Planet of the Apes. It is you know! Terrible film.