Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Notes On Tim Burton's Alice

OK, I don't altogether hate Tim Burton's Alice. His movies are always good to look at- in a predictable kind of a way. (I'm reminded of the reason Gore Vidal gave for not going to Fellini's latest- "He's a painter. I've already seen his gallery.")

But the crassness of the story-telling really gets my goat. Sending an older Alice back to Wonderland is a goodish wheeze (Carroll had it himself and called it Through the Looking-Glass; why not just film that?) but nothing could be further from the spirit of the original than this banal, Tolkieny epic of usurpation and resistance and bloody revolution .Everything that isn't Carroll is stuff we've seen before in God knows how many other Hollywood movies. Disfigured Villain- check, CGI armies- check. Explosions and things burning- check. Cute animals- check, scantily clad heroine- check. Big CGI monster- check, stirring speeches about liberty and tyranny- check.

Then there's the problem of the Depp ego. Burton and Depp are getting to be bad for one another. They weren't always so but now they defer to one-another's iconic coolness.  Willie Wonka and the Mad Hatter were roles that might have stretched the actor; instead they were tailored to fit the sexually-ambivalent, emo dandy that seems to be his fall-back persona. Depp can be funny- usually when the role doesn't particularly call for it (Hunter S Thompson in Fear and Loathing for instance)- but give him a comic turn and he'll strain- as here- for anything but laughs. What a rum bugger he is! .And Burton indulges him- gifting him with enormous, glowing, CGI eyes like headlamps. This Hatter isn't a character but a big show-off bundle of mannerisms and accents. There's no humour and the audience's sympathy (I'm a freak so love me) is whorishly solicited.  It's a boring performance and there's far too much of it.

Helena Bonham Carter channels Miranda Richardson's Queenie from Blackadder 2, Matt Lucas is rather sweet as the Tweedles, Stephen Fry (instantly recognizable) voices the Cheshire Cat.  Jesus, why does Stephen Fry have to be in everything? Doesn't he have a home to go to?
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