Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast

Here are six impossible things to believe about the new Disney movie Alice in Wonderland.

1. Tim Burton actually wanted to do it like this.
Given that he signed on after the screenplay was written and it was part of a two-movie deal, the other being a remake of his own Frankenweenie, I'm guessing he actually has his heart set on the latter.

2. The characters really fit those names and personalities!
The Mad Hatter's name is Tarrant Hightop? The Cheshire Cat is Chessur? The Caterpillar's name is Absalom? Wait, that's actually a real name... Let's call that Absolem. They sound pretty contrived to me. All the characters seemed distant and unconcerned with Alice in the books, with many notable exceptions in Through the Looking-Glass, but here they're all obsessed over her.

3. It's about time Alice faced the Jabberwocky!
It's "The Jabberwock," and it is entirely possible that the Jabberwock in the book was fiction within fiction. How on earth did he wind up with the Red Queen, and why was Christopher Lee just thrown in? Alice also faced the Jabberwock(y) in the 1985 television adaptation of the Alice books starring Natalie Gregory, and also in a very poorly done animated adaptation of Through the Looking-Glass that was released straight to video.

4. Alice becoming a feminist is completely believable!
A little reveal at the end about Alice's future was completely unrealistic for the 19th century. In addition, Alice's mother notes early on that Alice is not wearing her stockings or corset. While Carroll's Alice is only seven and a half at the oldest, her society would dictate that she likely wouldn't have grown up like that.

5. Combining the Red Queen and the Queen of Hearts was natural!
The film's Red Queen is basically the Queen of Hearts with a name change, and even more bloodthirsty, as it's even shown that she had the King of Hearts/the Red King executed, as his crowned head is seen in her moat. The Queen of Hearts wasn't that bad in the book, she only ordered executions we were told were never carried out. The Red Queen is a prim and agreeable woman who even helps Alice get started in the chess game. Moreover, the cleverness of the Cards' suits and the chess motif is completely lost here and just used as framing.

6. Carroll would approve.
I understand actually creating a plot and giving Alice a goal more substantial than getting into a beautiful garden or becoming a queen, but as I've shown above, the characterizations were not completely accurate. The plot is even more escapist than Carroll's books, as Alice runs away from a marriage proposal before going down the rabbit hole again so she can slay the Jabberwocky, defeating the Red Queen, so she can get the courage to give her honest answer.

However, this was actually a good movie. These points will mainly get to people who are very familiar with the Alice books or some of the earlier adaptations. I almost wish I wasn't so familiar with them so I could have just taken it on its own.

While I did have some issues with the plot (the epilogue screams "Disney!), for the most part, it was a good plot. However, some characters were greatly underused as others were overused. And why couldn't we have seen more of the characters who were not in the previous Disney movie? Would it kill Disney to show us the Duchess, her Cook, the pig baby, the Mouse with a sad tail, the Gryphon, the Mock Turtle, the White Knight, Humpty Dumpty, the Lion and the Unicorn, or the rest?

The CG was well-done. However, due to its overuse in many recent films, we can spot it. Here, there is CG in every Wonderland scene, Wikipedia estimating that 90% of the movie is CG. Thanks, Tim Burton, for calling it "animation," because that's what it really is.

Danny Elfman did a great job on the music, but I wish he'd also done the music for the end credits, rather than that Avril Lavigne song. It doesn't fit the rest of the movie at all.

Anyways, if you're curious or think you can take it for what it is, by all means, spend a little time in Underland. (Yeah, they changed that, too.)

1 comment:

Nathan said...

Isn't the Hatter's name "Hatta," at least when he's the White King's messenger?

I know the original Disney animated version had the Queen of Hearts say slightly altered versions of the Red Queen's lines, but they were made to fit her personality. Completely making the two characters into one doesn't make much sense, and I don't think either queen would have had her husband killed. For that matter, if the Red King is dead, does that mean he definitely didn't dream Alice's first looking-glass adventure?