In the era of remakes and remixes, it seems we all have something to say about original classics which undergo personally artistic make-overs. There tends to be a higher level of expectation for works of art, especially films, that are re-created and molded after their maiden form. This perception also bleeds into the criticism loyal fans disperse upon such valiant efforts, as well as the impressionable ears of our interwoven society. Alice in Wonderland has surely not escaped this grip, although it seems confusion is strangling the films quality and enjoyability for many.
First, let me review this film and provide my unbiased opinion. Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and found it to be everything a Burton film usually is. It made me smile, laugh, stare and realize yet again why I love Burton’s artistic point of view. Burton’s amazing ability to portray his angst, Calagari-esque style through the art of film and animation has always intrigued and tantalized my oculars. Watching his films brings me to a place where I can live through my pupils; and no, I am not a teacher. I love how he finds beauty in the smallest details, yet a beauty one would rarely classify as so. His dark themes manage to scream life filled with peculiarities in only the maddest of creative ways. The movie itself is very beautiful and somewhat trippy if you will (although I find psychedelia to be within Burton’s nature). His portrayal of Wonderland is one that could only come from the depths of a Timothy mind. Simple fragments such as ravens flying in place to hold up a chandelier, expose the individual flavor Burton brings to every film project he endeavors upon. The artistic value of this film alone is enough for anyone to stand up and applaud. Whether it be ‘just as the original intended or not’, the look and feel of the environments really make this film his own. This is, I presume, what he wanted.
This brings me to the story; one that he has made his own. Most of what I’ve heard about this film from other movie-goers is that of disappointment and a lack of continuity throughout Burton’s rendition. Unfortunately, the biased minds of many have taken the title and assumed it to be a Tim Burton replica of a classic story; where-in fact it is more of an interpretation of a collection of nonsensical poetic literature. The story definitely falters from the original in many ways, but I reiterate that this film is not intended to be a remake per se of the classic children’s book. I wouldn’t exactly call it a sequel either; that would be ‘Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There’. Let’s give this movie a tangent quality, since it is more based off the lyrics of one of Carroll’s many poems; “Jabberwocky”. Yes, the monstrous dragon-like creature that Alice must ultimately battle toward the end of the film. The newer model has many equivalant factors of the original story, as does the Disney classic we all know and love, but takes place after the original story. It follows a more heroic, mature path in which Alice returns to Wonderland only to become victim to the hands of fate which lead her to conquer the Red Queen and her devilish ways by battling the Jabberwocky.
This plot is clearly a huge adaptation Burton ensued in a risky, yet courageous manner. Quite honestly the story has little inspirational or dramatic quality to it, but does provide a simple path to follow that resembles many fantasy flicks. What seems to be the biggest problems for many are that Burton didn’t follow the outline of the original story nor maintain Carroll’s lack of sensibility. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is classified as literary nonsense. It is a story that really has nothing to do with much of anything and more or less lacks an actual story (beginning, middle, and end). Of course there is this time line within the tale, but nothing really connects or is relevant to any other event. There is no struggle or goal of the story. It’s simply meant to be silly and enjoyable. I can agree that Burton’s Wonderland falls short of this concept, but the truth is that our modern culture needs a story. We are so invested in purpose and reason that another movie that just doesn’t add up or make sense would seem to be a waste of time to many (including myself). Before writing this review I took the time to watch the Disney classic. I will tell you that the movie really doesn’t mean anything or make much of any sense. I journeyed upon a consistent flow of confusion and typical Disney musical flavor until I came to the conclusion that this story is more of a literal dream than that of a sensible build up to a climactic finish. I understand this was the purpose, but I found myself somewhat frustrated and ultimately a little more appeased by the rendition Burton presented in (for me) 3-D. Let it be known, I am not hating on the great Disney efforts or the verbose riddles of Carroll for I am, myself, quite the promoter of sensible nonsense. I simply enjoyed Burton’s film more for its amazing aesthetics and dark charm.
You may have noticed that I claimed to provide an unbiased review. I’m clearly biased in my opinion towards the movie, but I’ve used this term because it is only after I’ve seen the film that I can be biased. I have not allowed the media-marketing scandalmongers to preview and seemingly enlighten my mind to what this movie should fulfill. Nor have I allocated any space in my mind to assume this film should be exactly what the Disney classic proclaims to be, an animated version of the story (note that Disney’s rendition is quite inaccurate as well). The Disney version definitely has many aspects that don’t appear in the classic ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’. One such example can be seen by looking at the character list; tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum don’t even appear in the book, yet they appear in the animation. I’m not sure any movie has ever really perfectly portrayed its literary companion, but the Disney interpretation definitely maintained its lack of sensibility quite well. Tim Burton’s Wonderland, I found to be very clever in its subtle ways. Unfortunately his efforts may take a little more research and time for people to understand. Taking aspects from the original story, poems and themes of the sequel and a kick of Burton’s own originality; he mends and mashes Carroll’s cunning in way that blends and crashes effortlessly through the art Burton presents as viewers are enveloped at 30 frames per second.
So, I must say the gun-jumping on this film has been thus far premature. In my opinion, we all need to approach the cinema with much less expectation and preview. It’s great to know what’s coming out, but that minute or two glimpse into the future presents a constant predicament. This predicament is one of too much hope and desire for a vicarious sense of pleasure with which we all have no control. I often find that the best previews are the simplest, leaving out all the spice and nerve-tingling goodness while providing just enough mystery to intrigue and leave one dangling. Really though, I believe the best preview is none (especially of a movie for which one would presume to know the story).
I am very curious though, to see what movies you think actually lived up to their previewed value.
Also, what did you think of Burton’s Alice in Wonderland? (likes/dislikes)