Alice in process…

Instead of the question “Who is Alice?” there are now paths leading to what Alice might come to be…

14 Mar 2010

Off with Their Heads!

Review by Mark Burstein

Of all the trite, tone-deaf, gratuitously gruesome, unimaginative, witless, sophomoric, formulaic approaches to desecrating and exploiting a literary property, Burton’s travesty has reached a new low. In Avatar, a film with a similar target audience, a beautiful garden/forest culture was under attack from a misguided, aggressive oppressor with technologically advanced weaponry; poor Alice must know how exactly the Na’vi felt.

Perhaps half of the gazillion-dollar budget went to assuage Burton’s conscience, from his erstwhile near-legendary status as a star promulgator of visionary cinema to being reduced to a plodding, by-the-numbers execution of a committee-based, poky, clichéd recipe must have taken some doing.

I went to the theater expecting to pretty much loathe the film, but at least to enjoy the 3-D effects, something which I’ve been enamored of since childhood. But from the earliest moments of the idiotic frame story (don’t get me started on that), it was obvious by the multiplaning that this had been shot in 2-D and digitally forced up a dimension, which is equivalent to shooting a film in black-and-white and then colorizing it (as if we’d not notice), adding to the artifice and resulting is something that looks like an old ViewMaster or a Popeye cartoon.

OK, the Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry) was kind of cool in its smoky flickerings, Alan Rickman gave splendid voice to the Caterpillar, Johnny Depp was fun and actually once or twice said “Jabberwock” instead of “Jabberwocky,” as the creature was referred to by the rest of the cast. That’s about it. The rest was sodden, ugly, and vile.

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