Monday, March 15, 2010

Alice in Wonderland review

This weekend we sent to see the Tim Burton film Alice in Wonderland. I didn't have especially high hopes considering the critical reviews were fairly middling. It turned out to completely fill my expectations: A decent film that's very visual but lacking in story and wit.

Just like at the Avatar screening, we came an hour early, only to find a long line wrapped around the halls had already developed. People are serious about their 3D movies! We had the pleasure of watching the dismayed faces of people arriving after us as they trudged to the back of the snaking line to get into the theater.

The movie itself was very subdued and grim. It's hard to explain. The color palette stays in the blue-gray spectrum for most of the film. And visually its stunning but it felt cold and over CGI'd. Nothing looked real or palpable. I told A afterwards that I felt like I'd just watched a cartoon. That's a big problem with CGI that I still think needs a lot of work. Even the actors all seemed in a heightened state of unemotional detachment. The story starts out ten years after Alice's first trip to wonderland. She meets the same characters in the same sequence of events. But the journey seemed more about checking off story points (i.e. Mad Hatters tea, then meeting Red Queen, then meeting White queen etc.) And at the end of the journey at the point in the movie when the good people win and the characters are supposed to be joyous, everything still seems lacking emotion or urgency.

Now I don't want to appear overly critical. After all this was a huge production Burton took on that was more involved and complicated than I can even imagine. And he has created a visually stunning film. I just think that it would have benefited from a little more wit and and humanity and a little less CGI.

Here's an interesting video on the making of the movie.

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