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Alice in Wonderland...

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Scott Roberts
Alice in Wonderland...
on Mar 8, 2010 at 5:15:42 pm

Yeah, don't see this movie.

Tim Burton basically accomplished what he did with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Planet of the Apes. He proved to the world once again that he shouldn't be allowed to remake things.

I don't know where to begin with everything that went wrong with this movie. I guess it's main problem is that for a movie about a place called Wonderland, there was absolutely nothing wonderful about it (sorry for the lame pun). This Wonderland was just a dreary place, and I know that's what he's going for, but that doesn't exactly benefit his cause. Instead of going to a place of nonsense and magic, it was just a wasteland, full of uninteresting imagery. I love Tim Burton films from the 90s, but how many times is he going to beat the exact same style and art direction into everything he does? I thought he did a fantastic job with Big Fish because it was different than what he normally does with his own work. He should make more things like Big Fish and less things like Alice in Wonderland.

The characters were done poorly as well. For starters, he tried to make Alice some sort of feminist hero, which didn't need to be included. But that wasn't that big of a deal, I think it was more that Alice wasn't amazed by anything. She just trodded through Wonderland doing messed up things as if it wasn't a big deal. I guess her logic was that "it's only a dream", but that just completely took away all emotion in her character. I would have rather seen a 9-year-old Alice being dazzled in Wonderland, as opposed to the joyless 20-year-old wooden Alice seen in this movie.

And the Mad Hatter. How could they have ruined this character more?! It's not Johnny Depp's fault, he did what he had to do. I think it's the fact that he had 45 minutes of screen time, and he wasn't all that interesting of an interpretation. Burton turned an incredibly intriguing side character into a dull main character, and made him out to be a serious revolutionary-type, with agendas to overthrow the evil queen! Couldn't have done the Mad Hatter more incorrectly in my opinion. The Mad Hatter knew how to use a battle sword...! Really?!?! Too many times the Hatter was giving dreadful, teary-eyed monologues about destroyed kingdoms and broken dreams, and too few times was he actually being mad.

The only good aspects were that the Cheshire Cat was really cool and well done with neat effects, and I guess overall (despite some of the regrettable set designs) the visual effects were solid overall.

And I'm not sure this needed to be in 3D. This was one of those 2D converts to 3D after-the-fact, and I don't feel as if 3D benefitted this movie at all. So if you are still dying to see this movie, save $5 and just see it in 2D.

I think this video pretty much sums up Burton as of late.



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David Roth Weiss
Re: Alice in Wonderland...
on Mar 8, 2010 at 5:31:56 pm

[Scott Roberts] "I would have rather seen a 9-year-old Alice being dazzled in Wonderland, as opposed to the joyless 20-year-old wooden Alice seen in this movie. "

Kenneth Turan, top film critic for both the L.A. Times and NPR radio agrees with you, specifically on this point, and on many others that you pointed out as well.

Apparently, the films was shot in 2D and converted to 3D after the fact, which Turan thinks to be a big mistake, especially coming right on the heels of Avatar. He thought it seemed like ancient technology, that is obvious even to laypersons.

Sound like one I'll miss.

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Mike Cohen
Re: Alice in Wonderland...
on Mar 8, 2010 at 5:43:25 pm

No surprise with this one.

Seriously, the visuals look amazing from the tv commercials, but considering that SyFy recently did their own Alice with the usual bad production values and wooden acting, I decided that from now on I will only see films not based upon material that has already been used too many times. Like do we really need another Robin Hood movie. Russell Crowe is much better used in something original or less remakey.

Tim Burton has become known as the guy who makes stunning movies based upon beloved books and beloved movies. Sure he did a good job with Batman. Although watching the 1989 Batman today seems a bit hokey. Doesn't completely stand the test of time. But to reiterate the Phantom Menace rule in proper Yoda speak - "stunning imagery makes not a great film."

Think I'll catch Alice on cable a year from now.

Mike Cohen


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Tim Wilson
Re: Alice in Wonderland...
on Mar 8, 2010 at 8:52:58 pm

I predict that there's going to be a lot more 3D conversions from 2D shoots. We ran an article about this in the last issue of the Cow mag that I think covers the issues pretty well.

The biggest is that nearly all the obstacles related to 3D are in getting the cameras right. There are some fundamental features missing, like the ability to animate depth the same way you would zoom. In fact, you get to a state where every single change of focal length is a separate set-up.

That's just one example. There are a jilllion others, not least of which is depth matching across cuts within a scene, or across scenes.

Another is cost for both production and post.

Ironically, the first large-scale commercial use of this was for G-Force, a goofy kids movie that actually made some decent coin - and NOBODY talked about the 3D being primitive. It didn't look primitive at all. Ditto the upcoming Clash of the Titans - I guarantee that nobody is going to say, wow, this post-process 3D looks like crap. You're going to be flabbergasted by the sophistication this CAN add, even if it didn't w/Alice.

Think of it like any other post process - generally a good idea to get it in the camera, but hey, post adds options. Do it right, audiences are swept along. Do it wrong, and even novice viewers can tell that it doesn't work.

As we talk about all over the Cow, don't blame the technology, or its corollary, technology doesn't equal art...or even success. In fact, I'll bet that in virtually every minute of every day, somebody is posting something along these very lines.

Also, as I've mentioned before, people used to talk about movies and TV shows that didn't "need" color, but now they're pretty much all in color. Like it or not, it's coming for 3D. One big reason: 65% of Alice's $116 million came from 180 screens. Some of the handful of 3D screens were still locked up by Avatar. The next issue of the Cow mag will have an article about Europe's first live=action 3D IMAX picture - they've been in the can since December, and are just waiting for screens. Nobody has any idea what's going to happen when there are more than a couple of thousand screens.

THAT SAID, I have to agree with the general take on Alice. What a wreck.


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Naiche Lujan
Re: Alice in Wonderland...
on Mar 8, 2010 at 9:13:00 pm

two thumbs down, way down

Naiche

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Mark Suszko
Re: Alice in Wonderland...
on Mar 8, 2010 at 9:41:37 pm

My favorite Tim Burton Movie is that dark one with all the somber and creepy art direction, the morbid death fixation, ambiguous sexuality, Danny Elfman score, and the quirky stunt casting.

Like my favorite Tom Cruise movie; that one where he plays the "cocky young guy."

I like a number of Burton's things, but he's definitely turning himself into a sort of one-not parody. That's probably half Burton and half the studio's fault; the studios will put you in a certain pigeonhole, and that's all they think of you, and if you happen to make something good and/or profitable in that narrow area of spceicalization, then your reward is aping the same thing in various guises for the rest of your career.

At this point, it really IS like that College Humor clip, that parody is dead-on.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Alice in Wonderland...
on Mar 8, 2010 at 9:49:33 pm

BTW I read a blurb that the original "meaning" behind Alice in Wonderland was that it was metaphor about the politics and arguments revolving around new ideas in mathematics and symbolic logic, in the time Lewis Carrol wrote it.


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Fernando Mol
Re: Alice in Wonderland...
on Mar 11, 2010 at 4:57:59 am

I loved "Frankenweenie", an old short film from Tim Burton. He did an excellent job taking the old story of Frankenstein with a twist, keeping it both tender and terrible. A must see for all Burton fans.

But with Alice... I don't know. It was all about weird nonsense dialogs and characters with no emotion at all.

I'm sure Burton will do better next time.

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Mark Suszko
Re: Alice in Wonderland...
on Mar 11, 2010 at 6:06:59 am

Sadly, Fernando, I'm afraid he will only continue to do the same...


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Scott Roberts
Re: Alice in Wonderland...
on Mar 11, 2010 at 4:00:38 pm

Yeah, I agree, I don't see Burton changing his attitude anytime soon.

But comically, it what will probably end up being a bittersweet moment of irony, his next project set for 2011 will be a feature length adaptation of... Frankenweenie! So now, after years of seeing him mess up other people's stories, we will actually get to witness Tim Burton remaking Tim Burton, poorly! This is like an episode of Twilight Zone!

Whoa whoa whoa, Mr. Burton, don't get any ideas... Nobody wants you anywhere near Twilight Zone source material...


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Mark Suszko
Re: Alice in Wonderland...
on Jun 7, 2010 at 4:36:20 pm

My kid redboxed Alice in 2 d this weekend, I watched with her. I found it mostly ho-hum. The 3- d =oriented camera work was still obvious in 2-d but felt really unnecessary and too obvious in a House of Wax kind of way. I was unhappy with the ending, because it didn't seem true to itself. If Alice's point all the film was that she was choosing her own destiny, that doesn't really happen in wonderland, she still has to fight the jabberwock as she was told from the beginning. The real-world ending was also kind of tacked-on and didn't feel like it worked.

The rendering of the Red Queen, and her performance, was the best thing about the movie, but by itself is not a justification for making it.


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Mike Cohen
Re: Alice in Wonderland...
on Dec 13, 2010 at 11:27:47 pm

This movie is finally making the rounds on cable. I saw the first 15 minutes in HD and could tell it was designed for 3D on a big screen, and also designed for bored parents to take their kids to see. I was bored and could not bear to watch the rest.

Mike Cohen


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Richard Herd
Re: Alice in Wonderland...
on Mar 20, 2010 at 11:48:13 pm

I mean really: What were you expecting? I had a blast, and the cinema was full of children.


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