I’ve just got back from seeing Alice in Wonderland and I’m now feeling rather depressed and am starting to despair for the future of the film industry.
Let’s get the positive aspects out of the way first. The cast is wonderful and the acting impressive. I particularly enjoyed the little comedic touches that Anne Hathaway brought to the potentially quite bland White Queen. The visual effects were also fantastic. Burton’s imagination together with state of the art technology has given us a wonderful vision of how Wonderland should look.
So what didn’t I like? Well, firstly, I saw it in 3D. It’s the first time I’ve seen a 3D film outside of an IMAX so I didn’t really know what to expect. And it was all a bit disappointing. It was disappointing because the technology didn’t really seem to be ready for the mass market. During fast-moving sequences things got far too blurry. It was also disappointing because the 3D effect wasn’t very convincing. The image just had a background plane and two or three foreground planes. It looked a bit like cardboard cut-outs in a child’s theatre toy. And lastly it was disappointing because directors (or maybe it’s cinematographers) are still unable to resist the temptation to fill 3D films with shots that wouldn’t look out of place in a “This is 3D” demonstration film. Fight scenes were full of swords being jabbed in your eye and chase scenes all had overhanging branches to whiz impressively past. It was all very obvious.
But that’s not my major reason for disliking the film so much. That’s down to the plot. I don’t know if you’ve seen the film yet, but did you know it’s not a retelling of Lewis Carroll’s book? No, Tim Burton decided that what we wanted was a kind of “Return to Wonderland” plot where he mixes scenes from “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” with “Through the Looking Glass” and a nineteen-year-old Alice. On Alice’s return she meets up with all her old friends and gets embroiled in a battle between the Red Queen (aka the Queen if Hearts) and the White Queen. In the end she has to fight the Jabberwock in order to save the day.
It’s terrible. It makes no sense whatsoever. Ok, I know that complaining about logic in a Wonderland story is somewhat ridiculous, but what I’m saying is that I don’t understand why Burton had to play with the plot like that. It’s like my objections to the BBC’s Merlin. I worry that a new generation of children will be introduced to the story through a warped version and won’t ever read the real version. Burton ended up with a pretty good fantasy plot. Why did he have to attach it to the much-loved Wonderland characters? Why not just go off and make a film with his own characters? I don’t really feel that using the Wonderland characters added very much to the plot. This story could just as well been told using characters from the Narnia stories or the Lord of the Rings.
There were two things that Burton did in the film that I may never be able to forgive him for. Firstly, whenever characters mention the Jabberwock, they call it “Jabberwocky”. “Jabberwocky” is the name of the poem. The creature has always been the Jabberwock, The second point also involves the poem Jabberwocky. The Mad Hatter (played by Johnny Depp) recites some of the poem in the film. But he does it wrong. Verses are muddled up and lines are changed. It’s appalling. It shouldn’t be allowed.
I really wanted to see this film. Burton and Carroll looked like they were going to be a fantastic match. I’m massively disappointed that the film was so bad.