Alice Needs to Grow Up a Little

I was so excited when previews came out for Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland! So excited, in fact, that when all my potential movie dates fell through I schlepped off to the movies by myself. Because I was going to see this Tim Burton flick, by god! Even if I sat sadly alone with my single popcorn amid the giggling, eager couples and groups. And my reaction, after my own heavy anticipation?

It was... good.

It was very pretty. The clothes and set were gorgeous. But honestly, I was a little disappointed in the story. When I heard this was Alice re-imagined I thought there would be more imagination involved. Sure, Alice the klutz falls down another hole and revisits "Underland" like ten years later, or something. Events had progressed along the logical sequence that one might expect under a queen's despotic rule and Alice steps into the role of heroine. In general this is known as a movie sequel. Not so bad as one that the original movie's writers refuse to work on it and it goes straight to video, but a sequel nonetheless.

When I think of a story as being "re-imagined" I'm expecting something like Wicked (the book, not the musical); taking a story premise and doing something completely new with it, exploring themes or characters that weren't as important the first time around, innovation in the play of the story. This story was a little light and I kept waiting for more. In places where I expected interesting dialogue and insights there was a lot of posing instead. There was a theme developed around Alice's issue with making decisions, presumably one of the costs of growing up, but it was only touched on superficially. The Mad Hatter's character, whom I was really looking forward to, seemed downright muddied. Frankly, I think the SyFy Channel took more risks with their Alice in Wonderland re-imagining than Tim Burton did with his version.

Don't get me wrong, I still enjoyed the movie and I'm glad I saw it in the theater. The movie was visually stunning. Some of the performances were wonderful and some (*cough* White Queen) were a little stiff. The story was entertaining, but it didn't go far enough, especially if Alice's story was supposed to be updated from childhood to adulthood (or at least teenage-hood). People had advised me not to take my 5-year-old because it would be "too old and scary". Honestly, I didn't think it was any darker or adult than any other tween flick out there.

Alice in Wonderland was good... it just wasn't great. I expected more from Tim Burton.

I'm disturbed by this trend in movie-making that spends so much more time on the 3D effects than on the script. Call me old-fashioned but I'm just more interested in a good story and character development than balls flying at my face.

(There goes my social life.)

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