Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland

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Re: Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland

Post by Foxtale » March 5th, 2010, 2:02 pm

Went to the midnight showing, it was a fun movie. I loved the visuals and it was very enjoyable. It wasn't perfect but it was worth the money I paid to see it in IMAX 3D, although the 3D was a bit disorienting at times (like when she fell through the hole).
The dance scene... funny but unnecessary. :P Just my two cents.
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Re: Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland

Post by Locall » March 5th, 2010, 6:00 pm

Just came back from seeing it, I thought the beginning was kinda slow, but as soon as the story about the Queens got introduced the whole movie swallowed me up!! I loved it :D

Small minus:
The Mad-Hatter dance was awfull and totally unnecessary, it would even be funnier if one of the characters asked him about the dance and the mad-hatter just said: "don't feel like dancing now" or something like that.
The dance reminded me of Monsters vs Aliens, sooooo bad!

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Re: Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland

Post by EricJ » March 5th, 2010, 6:25 pm

Locall wrote:Just came back from seeing it, I thought the beginning was kinda slow, but as soon as the story about the Queens got introduced the whole movie swallowed me up!! I loved it :D
That was one thing I came out joking about the movie--
Just how many grownup people still confuse Alice in Wonderland with the Wizard of Oz, like they used to confuse the two when they were kids?
(Ie., the Queen of Hearts was not the Wicked Witch, the White Queen was not Glinda, and Alice did not return home in the book by clicking her heels three times after telling the Hatter she'd miss him most of all...) :lol:

Also, remember in "Avatar", when we used to joke about misogynist James Cameron "turning his female characters into Joan of Arc"?
At least Cameron didn't go all the way for the Armor, the Sword and the Prophecied Visions...Tim, that's gotta be breaking some new kind of record, and remember, you've still got Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman on your resume'. :mrgreen:

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Re: Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland

Post by estefan » March 5th, 2010, 7:52 pm

EricJ wrote: That was one thing I came out joking about the movie--
Just how many grownup people still confuse Alice in Wonderland with the Wizard of Oz, like they used to confuse the two when they were kids?
I never had that problem, personally. But, maybe it's because I was most familiar with the Disney Alice and the Judy Garland Wizard of Oz.

As for this one, I enjoyed it, but more out of the fact that I'm a fan of Carroll's book, which both helped me and harmed it for me. On the one hand, I had a smile on my face for much of the running time. On the other hand, I think Burton should have loosened up as the Hatter wasn't mad enough and Wonderland --I mean Underland, sorry-- wasn't dis-orienting drug-imagery inducing enough. The 3D also didn't add anything and those seeing it in regular 2D format won't be missing anything.

So, while Alice, the Red Queen and Cheshire Cat were the only characters that I really got into and were fully realised, I did enjoy the film as a whole, even I feel Burton should have gone all Beetlejuice and Batman Returns on this.

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Re: Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland

Post by EricJ » March 5th, 2010, 8:50 pm

estefan wrote:So, while Alice, the Red Queen and Cheshire Cat were the only characters that I really got into and were fully realised.
As for the Passion of St. Alice of Arc, i pretty much :roll: 'ed, as the whole "Repressive Victorian" and "Believe in yourself" theme smacked too much of that misfired '99 TV movie.
And having seen the trailer for six months, I'd already given up complaining about why they even bothered to refer to the "Red Queen", when they'd written her as the Queen of Hearts.
(No, seriously, what was the idea?--The whole "sisters" thing? It's not worth it, and "Looking Glass"'s real Red Queen was a much funnier character.)

The surprise was not only that Stephen Fry aced the Cheshire Cat, but also that the Tweedles came off as relatively book-unscathed--
I was absolutely dreading the early shots of Tim turning the TD's into the Corpse-Kid Twins from "Nightmare Before Xmas", but at least the script got the "nohow"'s and "contrariwise"'s perfect.
And having something that actually DID resemble the book stuck out too much. :P
As for this one, I enjoyed it, but more out of the fact that I'm a fan of Carroll's book, which both helped me and harmed it for me. On the one hand, I had a smile on my face for much of the running time. On the other hand, I think Burton should have loosened up as the Hatter wasn't mad enough and Wonderland --I mean Underland, sorry-- wasn't dis-orienting drug-imagery inducing enough.
The book's not supposed to be "drug-imagery" at ALL (which was the one reason I was dreading Tim's from the beginning)--
Carroll was just stringing together his picnic story sessions with a few of his incredibly bad puns and some Victorian poem parodies in one place. Like the Pythons coming out of Oxbridge, you have to understand logic to write the right kind of nonsense, and Carroll was a math geek. :D

But both Burton and Linda Woolverton (the Beauty&Beast screenwriter, and my opinions on her ability for faithful book interpretations have already been noted :x ) seem to have taken a lot of Carroll references at random, scrambled them on the table like Mars Attacks cards, and rewritten a Hollywood storyline to fit...And when that happens, it usually means they couldn't figure out the original source at ALL, and overcompensate by treating every single book-derived reference with new and utterly misplaced seriousness.
We get a LOT of metaphorical rumblings about "muchness", "Things that begin with an M", and the Raven/Writing-desk line, whereas in the book the reader could tell Carroll was just tossing those lines off to be proto-Python silly.

Which was my complaint with Tim's Charlie/Chocolate Factory (another book with its image smeared by grownup fans trying to deconstruct it): Trying to overcompensate not understanding the original book by overfocusing meaningless attention on off-topic details, to show his "understanding" of the source material.
Still, it did put me in a mood to dig up the pretty-looking 1972 big-budget British Fiona Fullerton version off the shelf again, which was about as close as you could get to a real word-transcript version of the book and still get the jokes. :)

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Re: Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland

Post by ShyViolet » March 6th, 2010, 12:54 am

EricJ wrote: The book's not supposed to be "drug-imagery" at ALL (which was the one reason I was dreading Tim's from the beginning)--
Carroll was just stringing together his picnic story sessions with a few of his incredibly bad puns and some Victorian poem parodies in one place. Like the Pythons coming out of Oxbridge, you have to understand logic to write the right kind of nonsense, and Carroll was a math geek. :D
Alice wasn't just puns and stories; the novel encapsulated anxiety over childhood becoming adulthood, class issues, political satire, lampooning of education in general (not just Victorian education) and many other themes. Also, the poems were much more than just parodies; they had deep meanings to them as well, both in the wordplay and the stories they told.

"The Walrus and the Carpenter" story of the poor hapless oysters has a funny, sweet, even somewhat sad feel to it. The Tea Party ridiculed convention/manners (the Disney version of this scene brilliantly translated it into escalating visual lunacy) , the Caucus race ridiculed the absurdity of politics in general (not just those in Carrol's time and place) and the "drink me" bottle and the mushroom that made Alice grow and shrink was very much about a child's dealing with the unpredictability of physically growing into an adult.

Carroll was a mathematician, and Alice has interpretations rooted in game theory as well. Even the "big letters turn into tiny letters" snake-like poem has had mathematical interpretations. The story is much more than just a "satire."

On the drug issue, it's never really been proven whether or not Carroll actually did smoke opium, but I don't think it's really relevant to the book anyway. Many people in his time smoked opium, and it wasn't looked at the way we look at "drug use" today.

(EDIT: But I do realize that those themes are "suggested" in their own way and totally understand wanting to see them reflected in the film.)

A better book about opium and hallucinatory images would probably be "Confessions of An Opium Eater" from about 50 years before Carroll wrote Alice, but that's definitely not a book for children. :)

(sorry to go OT! :) )
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Post by Dacey » March 6th, 2010, 12:20 pm

Judging from early box office estimates, "Alice" is nothing short of huge. With a number that's somewhere between $30-$45 million, the movie could end up making as much as $100 this weekend.
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Re: Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland

Post by EricJ » March 6th, 2010, 1:19 pm

ShyViolet wrote: Alice wasn't just puns and stories; the novel encapsulated anxiety over childhood becoming adulthood, class issues, political satire, lampooning of education in general (not just Victorian education) and many other themes. Also, the poems were much more than just parodies; they had deep meanings to them as well, both in the wordplay and the stories they told.
Although many of the poem parodies are Alice reciting her lessons or some authority figure reciting it for her "education"--
And considering that this is the real "Father William" poem schoolchildren had to learn, and this was Carroll's version, you can sense a bit of Weird Al-style revenge. :)
"The Walrus and the Carpenter" story of the poor hapless oysters has a funny, sweet, even somewhat sad feel to it. The Tea Party ridiculed convention/manners (the Disney version of this scene brilliantly translated it into escalating visual lunacy)
Finally, someone who'll stick up for the Disney version. (Not including Walt himself. :x )
Purists may howl at the Disney liberties, but they translate the spirit of the original jokes (in the Tea Party, Tweedles, and Trial scenes) perfectly for those too young to read.
Plus, name any other version that could make Alice the most interesting and funny central character in the story and still stay close to the text, instead of just the humorless straight-man to all the other characters' bits...Between Alice and Wendy, Kathryn Beaumont could always voice the most frustrated Victorian/Edwardian girls.
On the drug issue, it's never really been proven whether or not Carroll actually did smoke opium, but I don't think it's really relevant to the book anyway. Many people in his time smoked opium, and it wasn't looked at the way we look at "drug use" today.
Everyone leaps on the Caterpillar's mushroom and hookah with all the wishful drooling of a 60's campus audience double-featuring with Fantasia--
But even as a kid, I'd always assumed the pipe was for Exotic Pretentiousness (most versions depict the Caterpillar as old-British-Raj), and the mushrooms as, well, being small....Despite the popular misconception, some hookahs had tobacco in them, especially in Carroll's day.

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Re: Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland

Post by ShyViolet » March 6th, 2010, 1:52 pm

EricJ wrote:
Although many of the poem parodies are Alice reciting her lessons or some authority figure reciting it for her "education"--
And considering that this is the real "Father William" poem schoolchildren had to learn, and this was Carroll's version, you can sense a bit of Weird Al-style revenge. :)
True, he was making fun of the educational poems of his day, although the Alice/authority figures thing was also about children facing/confronting the adult world.
Finally, someone who'll stick up for the Disney version. (Not including Walt himself. :x )
I think he really liked the Alice book but it didn't turn out exactly the way he wanted, so I guess he felt he "failed." Which is a shame since there is much brilliance in the film. The only real problem is the lack of momentum. (not really coherence since it's not supposed to be "coherent" anyway, at least not in the traditional sense.)
Everyone leaps on the Caterpillar's mushroom and hookah with all the wishful drooling of a 60's campus audience double-featuring with Fantasia--
But even as a kid, I'd always assumed the pipe was for Exotic Pretentiousness (most versions depict the Caterpillar as old-British-Raj), and the mushrooms as, well, being small....Despite the popular misconception, some hookahs had tobacco in them, especially in Carroll's day.
Yes, the mushroom thing has been very misinterpreted; Alice eating the mushroom and growing/shrinking is suggestive of the instability of physical childhood growth. (Alice suddenly growing tall when she doesn't want to.) And the overarching theme of the caterpillar is not really that he was smoking (he's a caterpillar!) but once again Alice being confronted with the absurdity of adult authority. (The seriousness once again becoming nonsense.)
Last edited by ShyViolet on March 7th, 2010, 12:28 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland

Post by EricJ » March 6th, 2010, 2:22 pm

ShyViolet wrote:
EricJ wrote: Finally, someone who'll stick up for the Disney version. (Not including Walt himself. :x )
I think he really liked the Alice book but it didn't turn out exactly the way he wanted, so I guess he felt he "failed." Which is a shame since there is much brilliance in the film. The only real problem is the lack of momentum. (not really coherence since it's not supposed to be "coherent" anyway, at least not in the traditional sense.
And the fact that it goes for another "weird" abstract ending that also sank Three Caballeros...Although it might've just been an attack of book-purists sneering at Ed Wynn.
But like Fantasia, Walt couldn't look at the big picture, thought audiences hadn't responded to it, and thought that's what the studio got for not picking a story that plucked heartstrings: "Guess there's no money in Whimsy", unquote.
And the overarching theme of the caterpillar is not really what he was smoking (he's a caterpillar!) but once again Alice being confronted with the absurdity of adult authority. (The seriousness once again becoming nonsense.)
The Caterpillar's vagueness isn't meant to be "stoned", he's just infuriatingly aloof when Alice tries to ask for help--
FTR, the Disney version got the "Keep your temper" joke dead-on. :mrgreen:

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Re: Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland

Post by ShyViolet » March 6th, 2010, 2:55 pm

For a long time I didn't really understand why the film ended as it did (it seemed so random and abrupt) but now it seems to me that things are just supposed to get crazier and even more nonsensical (as if that were possible) until it's actually kind of scary. That's why everything blends into itself at the very end in that really insane way. There can't even be a pretense of normalcy. The escalating weirdness actually kind of out-does Carroll in a way.
But like Fantasia, Walt couldn't look at the big picture, thought audiences hadn't responded to it, and thought that's what the studio got for not picking a story that plucked heartstrings: "Guess there's no money in Whimsy", unquote.
Yes, it's too bad he got discouraged...but back then it might have been harder to see that it might become more of a hit later because there was no home video. Also, it wasn't just audiences that didn't overwhelmingly respond at the time; the film was savaged by critics who felt Walt "Disney-fied" the book without remaining true to its wordplay, humor, etc, as well as the famous illustrations.
In many ways Alice was ahead of its time (blending abstract ideas with fantastic visuals) because critics didn't understand that it was an interpretation of the book, not a straight adaptation. If the Classic Disney Alice had been released now I bet the reaction would have been very different. But there's really no way Walt could have predicted the future.
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Post by eddievalient » March 9th, 2010, 10:53 am

Saw this on Sunday and loved every minute of it. I'm a huge fan of Tim Burton and I think Alice is one of the best films he's ever made (up there with Big Fish and the criminally underrated Planet of the Apes). Johnny Depp was brilliant as the Hatter and Helena Bonham Carter adds just the right touch of menace to an otherwise goofy Red Queen (the heads in the moat were a nice touch).

Before the film was released, I read something in USA Today that said there's never been a really good Alice in Wonderland movie (even the Disney cartoon is a total mess despite some moments of genius) because Alice is a book that's impossible to do. There's no plot to speak of, no conflict, no central villain, no nothing. It's just a series of random, odd scenes (at least, that's what I got when I read it). Consequently, it doesn't really work as a movie.

Until now. Tim Burton's Alice is, in my opinion, the first truly great film version. I think it works precisely because it's not an adaptation of the book. Taking the characters and telling an original story was a marvelous idea and whoever had that idea ought to be commended. This is just another sign that after years of miguided flailing about, Disney is finally back on the right track. Took 'em long enough.
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Post by James » March 9th, 2010, 1:49 pm

Alice is my all time favorite novel so I bristle a bit when people talk about the book as if it were a totally random mess. Though I totally understand the reaction if you just do a casual reading. So while I'm looking forward to the movie, not sure what I'll think if it's just a "re-imagining".

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Re:

Post by EricJ » March 9th, 2010, 2:05 pm

eddievalient wrote:Before the film was released, I read something in USA Today that said there's never been a really good Alice in Wonderland movie (even the Disney cartoon is a total mess despite some moments of genius)
Ah, the inevitable ritual of Chocolate-Factory Syndrome--
In which the opening hype for a new remake, sight unseen, causes a new progressive rush to "punish" and demonize the older version for being "old", "outdated", or the standby favorite, "Just not capturing the spirit of the original".

(Here's a thought: Maybe they're BOTH not perfect. Yes, we even had knee-jerk CFS'ing of that Jackie Chan "Around/80 Days" and that hellspawned Time Machine remake, just for showing up--It's just something in man's nature.
Keep an eye out for mass demonizing of stop-motion animation, the week that the CGI "Clash of the Titans" remake opens...My psychic powers are unfathomable.)
because Alice is a book that's impossible to do. There's no plot to speak of, no conflict, no central villain, no nothing. It's just a series of random, odd scenes (at least, that's what I got when I read it). Consequently, it doesn't really work as a movie.
Apart from, as Vi says, a general children's bemusement of Victorian grownup parody, there's no message without pasting one in (ahemBurton), and as it's a collection of short scraps, there's not supposed to be a "plot" except for Alice trying to get from Point A to Queen's garden Point B. (The trial scene gets stranger and stranger because she's "waking up" from the dream.)

As for "best version", that's always been my hobby as Anti-Defamation defender, but in general order of quality for the best known:
- 1972 (British, Fiona Fullerton as Alice): Although most critics thought the movie as "limp" for keeping the non-plot intact, 90% word-faithful transcription of the text, child-friendly depiction of Wonderland as a pretty place (instead of the usual "nightmarish" deconstruction), all-star cameo cast, and Alice in character as having "sensibly" silly off-topic thoughts...But drags down with some pointless songs that have nothing to do with the story, although has a nice framing device about Carroll's river picnics.
- 1983 (PBS live-on-stage version): Also word-faithful transcription, Tenniel-based production design, and all-star cameo cast having fun, even if Kate Burton (Richard's daughter, not Tim's) plays Alice's thoughts with an odd grimness, as if they're Shakespearean soliloquies.
- 1951 Disney - Heavy on the liberties and a few scrambling of quotes and references, but one of the better explanations of the spirit of the original scenes to the pre-literacy set. Unusual in making Alice and her frustrations the main focus of the plot (and Kathy Beaumont is hilarious in it), instead of simply using the character as straight-man "host" to the funnier characters.
- 1998 BBC "Looking Glass" - A little heavy on the "stylized" modern-BBC twists on the original text, but otherwise faithful, all-star cast ("As Time Goes By"'s Geoffrey Palmer IS the slightly confused White King) and the gimmick of using Kate Beckinsale as an adult Alice isn't meant to interfere with the story, unlike, ahem, some versions we could name.
- 1999 NBC - Like most mega-budget Hallmark miniseries, more CGI and stunt-casting than deep interpretations of material. The original book survives well enough, and the stunt-casting seems to work (even Martin Short doesn't annoy as the Hatter), but Burton wasn't the FIRST one who ever came up with the idea of Alice escaping a stuffy garden party while the characters metaphorically lecture her about Finding Her Identity...Like Coleridge said, "Too much moral."
- 1933 Paramount - One of the more cringe-worthy lessons in "Don't do Alice if you don't get the jokes": Inspired by a big-budget stage version that year, a lot of studio-stable stars weirdly cast (except for a dead-on WC Fields as Humpty Dumpty) in even weirder Tenniel-esque rubber makeup reciting Carroll lines without quite understanding the humorous thrust.
- 2010 Tim Burton - See earlier review
- 1981, "Alice at the Palace" - TV version of one of the few musicals ever to close overnight on Broadway. Find out why.
- 1985 Irwin Allen - Yes, we know, "the one you probably grew up with"--But dear gods, what a demon-spawned horror. :shock: Imagine the Allen who gave us "Lost in Space" handling Carroll, and you're halfway there: Wincingly cutesy, barely a word out of the book, and basically rewritten into a variety show for stars like Sammy Davis Jr. to interact with our golden-haired sitcom-totsy. Here endeth the other lesson, "If you don't get the original, don't rewrite it yourself."
- 1966, BBC Jonathan Miller - I didn't know which version to put on the bottom, because the Allen might've looked like I hadn't seen that many versions. But consider this one a non-version: The BBC director so snooty he inspired "Yellow Submarine"'s Boob tries to give us his ritual Artsy-Deconstructionist take on the story--Concentrating on long closeups on Alice's face while we hear The Quotes, suggesting that the adventures were all in her looney head. Gosh, Jonathan, so you're saying you think it's a psychosis allegory?...That's GROUNDBREAKING! :roll:

(Yes, it's a long list, but hey--Somebody's got to be Keeper of the Flame.
We've already got a generation that grew up thinking the Irwin Allen was the "Real version", and we're looking at a generation that might end up thinking Tim's was. Shine a light, for our children's future.)

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Post by Ben » March 9th, 2010, 6:25 pm

Best on-screen Alice has been the 1972 Brit version, followed by Disney's 1951. But Burton's film trumps them both, though be aware that this is NOT the book!

He takes more from Through The Looking Glass than Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, and basically mixes in some Wizard Of Oz and produces a Wonderland version of Return To Oz.

The result is a wonderful wonderland; yes, more sequel than "re-imagining". But I loved, loved, loved it as Burton's best in a long while...and I didn't even see it in 3D!

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