Burton in Blunderland

I never saw it at the movies, but since it’s now out on DVD, I figured I might as well watch Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. Most of what I heard about it wasn’t too good, and, well, it really wasn’t. First of all, it wasn’t a good adaptation of the original story. The characters who showed up weren’t particularly consistent with how they appeared in either the books or the Disney animated film from the fifties (to which this was allegedly a sequel). The Hatter as a revolutionary leader? The Caterpillar as a sage named Absalom? The Dormouse as a warrior? (Seriously, he looked like Stuart Little and acted like Reepicheep.) The White Rabbit wasn’t too bad, but I couldn’t get over how much he sounded like C-3PO. And the Red Queen was obviously supposed to be the Queen of Hearts, so why didn’t they just call her that? The Disney cartoon did give the Queen of Hearts some of the Red Queen’s lines, so it isn’t the first case of the two queens being combined. But really, I don’t think the character in the Burton film resembled the Red Queen at all. The tarts, the Knave, the playing card henchmen, and “off with her head” were all associated with the hot-tempered Queen of Hearts, not the prim and proper Red Queen. And the White Queen is supposed to be old and absent-minded. Also, why no kings? The Queen of Hearts, Red Queen, and White Queen are all married. I think I heard something about the Red King’s head being visible in one scene, but I didn’t notice it, and killing her own husband wouldn’t have been in character for either queen anyway.

So we’ve established that it wasn’t a good adaptation of the Alice stories, but that might not have been so important if it had been a good movie otherwise. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Most of it was pretty boring, and the story didn’t really seem to have any logical progression. Sure, you could say Wonderland isn’t supposed to have logical progression, but it wasn’t nonsensical in the fun way the books are. It just kind of meandered. I kind of think they put all of their effort into the visuals, but they weren’t all that good either. Some were pretty interesting, like the Bandersnatch and the quick glimpses of the Looking-Glass Insects, but most of it was too dark and drippy.

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11 Responses to Burton in Blunderland

  1. vilajunkie says:

    I agree it wasn’t the movie–as either an adaptation or a stand-alone film. About the Red King, you see shortly when Alice is visiting the Red Queen that the “stones” she used to get across the moat were all the heads of those the Red Queen had killed. In fact, the Red King was one of the stone heads, because, implicitly, the Queen chopped off the head of her husband. As much as the Red Queen was unlikeable and evil, I wasn’t too fond of the White Queen either. Sure, she was pretty, but she was just as cold-hearted as her sister (Sister? Seriously?). She was a necromancer for one thing. And I swore that as soon as Alice defeated the Jabberwocky and the Red Queen, the White Queen was going to turn out to be just as evil or moreso than her sister once she became the ruler of “Underland” again. I kinda liked the Caterpillar, since he was mostly in character, but I think Alan Rickman is seriously overused for fantasy/supernatural films these days.

    P.S. The Dormouse in this was a she.

    • Nathan says:

      I really didn’t get the thing with the queens being sisters, but that kind of thing seems oddly common. In Tin Man, their versions of Dorothy and the Wicked Witch were also sisters. And yeah, the White Queen definitely seemed cold-hearted; it really seemed like they were going for a Snow Queen type with her, which is nothing like she is in the book. I guess she was sort of the lesser of two evils. Maybe Alice and the resistance movement should have introduced a representative government.

      I was amused by how similar Rickman as the Caterpillar was to his role as Snape. I’m sure he’s now an expert at calling young people stupid. {g} But yeah, it seems like he and Christopher Lee HAVE to appear in every new fantasy film. Not a problem, really, just an observation.

      I didn’t even catch that the Dormouse was supposed to be female. I also never got why Disney made the Dormouse tiny, when Tenniel’s illustrations showed him as about the same size as the Hatter and Hare.

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