We’re all mad here

March 19, 2010 § 2 Comments

The only thing that just about saved Alice in Wonderland was Alan Rickman as the voice of the Caterpillar (named Absolem in the film version), and Stephen Fry as ‘Chessur’ the grinning cat (as opposed to ‘Cheshire Cat,’ which is what it’s called in the book). Props also to Anne Hathaway for truly embodying the weird, whimsical spirit of Carroll’s classic – her White Queen was all smiles and twirliness understated by intelligence and kindness. Helena Bonham Carter – occasionally cute, but mostly overdone.

Chessur...

There’s nothing more tiresome than someone going, “Oh, but that’s not what happened in the book” during a film adaptation of a novel, but it’s inevitable that a viewer’s perception of the movie will be coloured by what she has read. Especially so if the book is treasured not only in her memory but by a collective of memories and is a ‘classic.’ Which is sort of understating the appeal of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

But it’s okay for someone like Tim Burton, an idiosyncratic and visionary filmmaker, to bend the rules a little and alter bits here and there without being tried in the court of literary sacrilege. Fine. But it’s just that you expect someone like Tim Burton to bend the rules good.

This movie felt like a drawn-out labour not of love, but of necessity. As in, “I started this damn movie and oh god, I have to finish making it.” Call it the Disney effect – but the wonder in Alice in Wonderland was tepid, sluggish, and run-down. I couldn’t find anything really wrong with Mia Wasikowska’s performance, but I couldn’t really find anything right about it either. She just makes you go, “Hmmm… okay. Alice.”

And Johnny Depp sort of went from utter manic (at the Tea Party) to all sad and emotional towards the end, which was just odd. I think I understand what they were going for with the character, the attempt to embody various facets of different personalities that makes the Mad Hatter, well, mad, but there wasn’t really a proper blend of those characteristics. The Mad Hatter is mad and memorable. Depp’s Hatter is forgettable. It just felt like I was watching a bunch of various emotions on-screen, not a cohesive blend of traits that makes a character a character.

Speaking of the Tea Party scene – it wasn’t long, but it gave me a headache. I expected to be charmed, damnit. I did not expect to wish I had a Panadol with me.

And the Jabberwocky – can I just say “no comment?” I’ve always wanted to say that, and I’ll say that in relation to the Jabberwocky. I preferred my Jabberwocky when it was a pencil illustration.

(It must be said that I give big shout-out to the nice people who did the subtitles. “Curiouser and curiouser” translated as “orang yang ingin tahu, orang yang ingin tahu” kept me giggling through the few following forgettable minutes of that pronouncement.)

... or Cheshire Cat?

§ 2 Responses to We’re all mad here

  • Space Bar says:

    ya well. apparently he’s said he didn’t quite get alice when he read it – that it just went from place to place.

    huh.

    this is one burton i’m not watching. besides, i’m a little tired of his weirdness edging into sentimentality, as it so often does.

  • Subashini says:

    Oh god, I didn’t know he said that. “Huh” indeed. That explains why he felt he had to inject a VERY CLEAR narrative arc into the movie and ruin the damn thing.

    Yes, you’ll probably have a better time of it rewatching Beetlejuice.😉

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