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From the DVD Shelf: Josh Reviews Alice in Wonderland (2010)

October 1st, 2010
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I once considered Tim Burton one of my very favorite directors, but recent years have changed that somewhat for me.  I still think he’s an extraordinary talent who has given us some incredible films, but since 1999’s Sleepy Hollow, in my opinion Mr. Burton has directed two mediocre films (Big Fish and Sweeney Todd) and two absolutely terrible films (Planet of the Apes and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).

When I first heard that Mr. Burton would be directing an adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, I thought at first that that was an inspired idea — that the weirdness of Alice in Wonderland would be a great match for Mr. Burton’s bizarre sensibilities.  But when I started seeing trailers for the film, I thought it looked terrible.  The glimpses I got of Johnny Depp’s totally wacky portrayal of the Mad Hatter didn’t interest me, the design of the film looked garish, and it seemed to me that the dark terror of Sleepy Hollow had been replaced by lowest-common-denominator all-ages pap.  For the first time that I could ever remember, here was a new Tim Burton film that I was not interested in seeing.  Once I started to read the poor reviews (and, in particular, the on-line eviscerations of the 3-D conversion), I decided to pass on seeing the film in theatres.

But, you know, it’s a new Tim Burton movie!  Even though it didn’t look like a film I would enjoy, I do admit to remaining sort of curious to see what Mr. Burton had come up with.  Was the film really as bad as it looked to me in the trailers, and as I’d read?  When I saw the film in the “new releases” section of my local video store, I decided to rent it so I could see for myself.

Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland is not a total catastrophe.  There are some bits and pieces of the film that I liked.  But as you could probably tell from my recent cartoons, I found the whole thing to be exceedingly mediocre, and quite a disappointment coming from the talented Tim Burton.

The film started off well.  I quite liked Mia Wasikowska’s performance as Alice.  She’s certainly quirky enough to feel right at home as the lead in a Tim Burton film, but her Alice also felt recognizably vulnerable and human.  Her trip down the rabbit-hole and entrance into Wonderland was sufficiently weird and spooky, and I quite liked the build-up of hints that this wasn’t Alice’s first trip to Wonderland.  That was a surprising choice on Mr. Burton’s part (and that of screenwriter Linda Woolverton), but I really dug it.  I liked … [continued]

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New Trailers!

Some great new trailers have hit the web in recent days, and they have quite a lot in common with one another in some fascinating ways.

First up, we’ve finally been given our first substantial glimpse into what Terry Gilliam has cooked up in his new film The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, and, as one might expect, it is spectacularly bizarre.  I cannot wait to see Heath Ledger’s final performance.  Click here for the trailer.

Is that not enough cinematic weirdness for you?  Then check out the trailer for Tim Burton’s version of Alice in Wonderland.  That man was born to make this movie.  I just hope it has a little more life to it than Burton’s version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory did.

Are we on a roll yet?  Continuing the theme of visionary directors adapting famous books, take a peak at the newly-released second trailer for Spike Jonze’s adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are.  That looks absolutely marvelous, doesn’t it?

Finally, speaking of visionary directors adapting famous books, here‘s a long-anticipated (by me, at least) look at Peter Jackson’s adaptation of Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones that is absolutely haunting.  Can’t wait.… [continued]