Monday, March 08, 2010

Movies to Watch For

Movies to watch for:

Robin Hood (starring Russell Crowe & Cate Blanchett, to be released May 14th, 2010)
Toy Story 3 (to be released June 18th, 2010)
Tron Legacy (to be released Dec. 17th, 2010)

WOW!  I had no idea three good films were coming our way!

Though, I've got to ask.  Is anyone else out there tired of redos of books/movies that just fail to get it right?  Case in point: I saw Tim Burton's disturbing adaptation of Alice in Wonderland.  Boy, let me tell you: Best Option -- stick to the books; Next Best Option -- stick to the original Disney cartoon.  I knew something was off when Alice's tumble down the hole was no longer a peaceful sip of tea, a glance at a clock, or a resigned decrescendo.  It became a painful, crazy crash-a-thon that she was lucky to get out of alive.  From there on out, I quickly learned that this was not a journey I'd ever care to take again.
    Virtually every review will tell you the visuals are stunning.  They are.  But what's wrong here?  There's no heart, little plot, and way too much redundancy.  Okay, I've got to correct myself.  There's plenty of hearts, just no heart.  Thanks to the Red Queen, hearts are everywhere.  Since the plot was nothing engaging, I started looking for all the clever ways that hearts were included in the film.  The one part in the movie (the one part!) was when Tweedledum and Tweedledee show up with hearts hastily spraypainted on their foreheads.  Whoever did it was in a hurry, and we can clearly see the outline of the stencil square.  As far as their being no heart, there's no connection between most of the characters, save one of the monsters and Alice.  And between us and the characters?  They're not endearing.  They're creepy!  Depp gives the Hatter character, but I can't get over my desire to run away.
   Even though I wasn't the one running around Underland, I quickly grew weary.  What little plot there is stems from Carroll's poem "The Jabberwocky," a poem I enjoy, but a poem that just doesn't make sense to build a movie upon.  (Especially given Carroll's rich material in Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass).  As happens each time I watch a loser film, I go into it with high expectations, and gradually lower them until by the end I'm just thankful the writer put in an ending.
   Redundancy?  Sure, many films have recurring phrases, words that take on new significance to a character through the course of the film.  Problem was, without enough substance, the recurring phrases became incredibly distracting.  How many times did the Hatter ask Alice about a raven and a writing desk?  And yes, we realize that the best people are a little crazy.  But when there's no substance between the repetitions of these significant phrases, we get tired of fluff.  Really, Tim Burton.  If you'd just opened Lewis Caroll's books for 10 minutes you could have found riveting (if nonsensical) conversations to draw on.  Meat! 
   And not dead meat. What sickened me most were the macabre props.  We have the supposed "good guy" -- the White Queen -- mixing potions out of literal "buttered fingers."  Sure, it may have started out with Alice eating cakes and drinking drink me juice, but by the end of it, she's drinking dead Jabberwock blood straight.  Gross me out!  It seems that the White Queen is almost as creepy as her sister, the Red Queen.  Not only is she way overdoing the face powder thing, but she makes a study of dead things and has no problem serving up human juices in her fare.  As for the Red Queen, the cry that the original Disney cartoon rightly dismissed as an empty threat uttered by a acromegalic megalomaniac -- "Off with her head!"  -- now becomes a death sentence.  C'mon -- did anyone in the original Disney cartoon lose their head?  Of course not.  In this version, though, there's more decapitated heads around the Red Queen's court than intact ones.  They're not even properly buried, but floating in the moat around the palace.  And neither Alice nor we are spared the gory details.  At one point, Alice, shrunken to the size of a mouse, has to cross the palace moat by stepping in or over the decapitated heads. 
    In Burton's hands, this story's innocence has been replaced by downright creepiness.  With no good Queen, plenty of ghoul, but no heart, I'm giving this an emphatic two thumbs down.

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