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movies / March 7, 2010

Alice-in-Wonderland-001

Burton’s Alice in Wonderland is messed up in some ways—we’ll get to that in a second—but it’s seriously beautiful at intervals that command attention. There’s a war theme in it that’s pursued with surprising gravity. Example: the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) is heading an insurgency against the savagely cruel Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter), and urges Alice (Mia Wasikowska) to play her part by slaying the Jabberwocky (Christopher Lee).

Alice says, primly, “I don’t slay,” and the Hatter says, with angry severity, “You don’t slay?

Not only is that a nice play on the early 20th century response, “You don’t say?” (signifying incredulity), it’s a great encapsulation of a righteous moral stance that we don’t encounter much lately. That is: in such a world as this, blighted and murderous, filled with monsters laying waste to everything good, you consider yourself above taking violent action against monsters? Shame!

If you know the books Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, you’ll have already guessed that this is a pretty loose adaptation, pulling in Lewis Carroll’s poem, “Jabberwocky”, some Joan of Arc imagery, random Disney iconography, odd bits of Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, The Wizard of Oz, Xena: Warrior Princess, and the occasional kitchen sink. In Burton’s version, Alice is a misfit 19-year-old escaping an arranged marriage, who returns to the half-remembered Wonderland of her childhood dreams only to find it’s really called Underland, a scorched realm where she’s expected to take up arms in order to restore the White Queen to the throne.

For film critics who are lost in confusion over the lack of “wonder” in Wonderland—meaning not enough scenes of Alice roaming around among giant flowers with a stupid slack-jawed expression on her face, staring at the upper corner of the screen like somebody in a Spielberg movie—please go back and watch the movie again. (Seriously, Owen Gleiberman, try to see the whole thing next time.) It’s all explained in there.

The frame story of the film is pretty bad—best to ignore it as much as possible. It’s standard girl-power boilerplate projected back onto the Victorian Era, courtesy of screenwriter Linda Woolverton, who’s already cursed us with Disney crap like Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. In her vision, Alice is a frowny teen who refuses to wear a corset or marry a total git, and opts for a career instead. Problem is, her chosen career is colonial-era exploitation—at the end she’s going to go expand trade routes to China and parts East, standing tall at the prow of an English ship, and we know how that kind of thing turned out.

Fortunately, the Underland dream seems to break loose from Woolverton’s frame, featuring a powerful opposing vision, a surreal refraction of Celtic rebellion against English tyranny. Depp’s Mad Hatter is a red-haired, green-eyed figure of gibbering anguish who lapses into a harsh Scottish accent whenever the fight is on against the Red Queen, and then back into an uncertain fey lisp when the fight is deferred.

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He’s conspiring with animals against the Red Queen—the White Rabbit (Michael Sheen), the Dormouse (Barbara Windsor), the March Hare (Paul Whitehouse), and a sad, dignified bloodhound named Bayard (Timothy Spall) are his main co-conspirators—which makes sense because the huge-headed she-tyrant is spectacularly sadistic to the assorted pigs, frogs, and monkeys that are on call as both servants and furniture, as monkey-tables and pig-ottomans. (“I love a warm pig belly for my aching feet.”) This is an excellent riff on British history, especially the sub-human status accorded to the Irish, associating them with apes and pigs that made for nice easy slaughtering.

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Of course Alice will take up arms eventually, in a third act that’s getting a lot of flack from some critics who claim it’s pointless, tacked on, intended to sell computer games, and so on. (I’m looking at you, Roger Ebert. Yikes!) Again, I recommend watching the movie to clear up this confusion. It’s all about recovering Alice’s heroine-status through battle. The build-up to war is the whole plot. From the beginning, various Underland creatures keep accusing her of being “the wrong Alice;” meaning she’s not the Alice who will fight for them, the Alice who had such militant promise in her early girlhood.

This is an intelligent way of reinterpreting the Alice character by a director who admits he’s just not that into her:

“I’ve always hated Alice on screen,” he says. “She’s a very annoying, odd little girl. I wanted to make her into a character I could identify with: quiet, internal, not comfortable in her own skin…”

So he Burtonized her. He does that to everyone.

The movie is darkly opulent, of course—it’s Burton—and likely to be particularly memorable and haunting for children. There’s a great scene when Alice is crossing the moat to the Red Queen’s castle on a walkway of petrified heads of former enemies floating in the water, which bob up and down as Alice steps on their stony faces. Alice herself is quite beautiful and solemn, a rare, good thing in an ingénue. And she’s fashion-forward to an amazing degree. All fashionistas must get to the theater immediately to see the blood-red-and-plaid dress she wears while nerving herself up to fight. The armor is also pretty stunning.

Anne Hathaway is lovely as the White Queen, and achieves a Glinda-the-Good-Witch combination of authority and zaniness that’s truly admirable. She even maintains an off-kilter ethereal manner when she’s adding the final ingredient to a magic potion by spitting into it. And completing the trio of formidable females is Helena Bonham Carter as the bulbous-headed Red Queen. She’s not quite as scary and hilarious as Miranda Richardson’s Queen Elizabeth in the Blackadder TV series (“Who’s queen?”), but then, nobody is. The role’s still a great fit for Bonham Carter, whose particular gift is playing casual, earthy fiendishness.

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The only thing I regretted about this free interpretation of Carroll’s Alice books is that once again the Cheshire Cat doesn’t get his just due. The erotic charge in the Cheshire Cat’s encounters with Alice are displaced, in Burton’s films, onto the built-up Mad Hatter part played by Depp. The Hatter winds up being the romantic, courtly Scarecrow to Alice’s Dorothy. And the enigmatic soothsayer wisdom of the Cheshire Cat has been handed off to the hookah-smoking caterpillar, here named Absolem (Alan Rickman). This only leaves the Cat (Stephen Fry) with his menacing smile and evaporating abilities and general eccentricity. Oh well—someday someone will do the Cat right on film.

No point getting hung up on fidelity to Lewis Carroll when watching adaptations of the Alice books. It’s like being purist about Sherlock Holmes—no use at all, just asking to have a stroke at an early age. (Which reminds me, for those who are still worried about Lewis Carroll as pedophile, you should really just avoid Victorian literature altogether. Mooning over the underage was practically a literary requirement back then. I’m not saying it was a good thing, just ubiquitous.)

The movie’s in 3-D, and luxuriantly eye-popping to watch in that format, but plainly not designed to take any particular advantage of it. Nevertheless, people seem avidly ready for this movie. I saw it in an audience that was surprisingly hungry for it, more like an action film crowd than the people who generally show up to see fussy production-design spectacles like Burton’s Sleepy Hollow and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. There was a woman near me who had saved four seats around her just to guarantee her own personal space in a crowded theater, and she had that half-crazed air of someone who intends to watch the hell out of a film and might cut anybody who got in her way. I feared for the safety of the six teenagers she was cursing under her breath.

I understood. I felt the same way myself. It’s been a rotten couple of months for films. And now the Oscars are upon us, with their guarantee not to give awards to the audacious films that deserve them (A Serious Man, Inglourious Basterds). That prospect does tend to make you want to see another filmmaker tear up the screen. Burton goes for it. Though it’s in his Vincente Minnelli-ish way that favors elaborate color schemes and beautiful frocks, we must offer up our respect. It matters what you wear to go to war.

41 Comments

Add your own

  • 1. beavus and butthead  |  March 7th, 2010 at 1:04 am

    Slayin article wahaha

  • 2. Berkshire Hunt  |  March 7th, 2010 at 2:42 am

    Depp’s lapsing into a harsh Scottish accent whenever the fight is on and then back into an uncertain fey lisp when the fight is deferred?

    I guess he’s just eclectic in his influences. Braveheart and Gayheart in schizoid, joyful abandonment.

  • 3. Berkshire Hunt  |  March 7th, 2010 at 2:49 am

    Oh, and if you really want to ruin your cereberal enjoyment of the movie for the scenes when Anna Hathaway comes on, just read on:

    WARNING WARNING CLOSE YOUR EYES IF YOU DON’T WANT TO RUIN HER SCENES

    Pubic hair is the same colour as eyebrow hair.

    OK OK ALL CLEAR NOW, YOU CAN OPEN YOUR EYES NOW

  • 4. Bardamu  |  March 7th, 2010 at 3:11 am

    This is a very interesting piece of writing.

    Well done Eileen.

  • 5. MonkeyMouth  |  March 7th, 2010 at 7:45 am

    Whoever said you were the best movie reviewer in the world was right. Spot on. I am ‘Avatar-edly’ ready for this movie, too.

  • 6. FrankMcG  |  March 7th, 2010 at 10:31 am

    Speaking of Ebert, why is he dressed up as a queen in that picture?

  • 7. Diet Coke  |  March 7th, 2010 at 11:15 am

    This

    is

    SPARTAAAAAAAAAAAA

  • 8. Cernunnos Trismegistus  |  March 7th, 2010 at 11:18 am

    I’m always disappointed that Jan Svankmajer didn’t see fit to include the Chesire Cat in his version of Alice (another free-form interpretaion). And since all the voices were done by the girl playing Alice, the “erotic charge” would have been pretty bizarre.

  • 9. jimmy james  |  March 7th, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    What is it about Basterds? Why are so many critics I admire pulling for it when it’s probably Tarantino’s second worst film?

  • 10. radii  |  March 7th, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    Burton is the Gen-X Liberace of Hollywood filmmaking – too much sparkle and not enough substance … his stories are always disjointed and weak – he never ever gets them right and it sounds like in this case, even with rich source material, he’s served another gaudy plate of misfit soup … sure, he’s an interesting visual stylist and has done will with Beetlejuice, Ed Wood, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure and even Mars Attacks, but he does not know how to tell a story

  • 11. bryanD  |  March 7th, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    The druggy 1966 BBC version of AIW is being released this month. Great cameos, Ravi Shankar soundtrack, and a drowsy, snotty hottie (slightly underage—but at least not frikkin’ 19!), all in glorious B&W, makes IT the one to spend money on.

    There’s some clips on Youtube.

    PS. Burton directed Mars Attacks?
    I guess he’s not useless after all.
    Johnny Depp? Still useless.

  • 12. Allen  |  March 7th, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    Berk: mission accomplished.

  • 13. Gustavo Arellano  |  March 7th, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    That dig at Ebert was FUCKED UP—but I laughed too hard.

  • 14. mydick  |  March 7th, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    When will people finally shut up about the oh so poor oppressed Celts?

  • 15. frances  |  March 7th, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    jimmy,

    You ask “What is it about Basterds?” Years ago, I went to a Van Gogh exhibit in LA. There was a room devoted to what I think of as Van Gogh’s Japanese period. Walking past the earlier stages of his work, you could see him imitating the Japanese painters, trying to master their styles. By the end he had stop imitating them and become one of them. He had learned from them the elements of what was now his own style. Fluent in the language of the art, he now said interesting things. For me, watching the early Tarantino is like viewing those early efforts of Van Gogh. I remember watching Tarantino’s films and thinking “Woo did it better”, “Lam did it better”, “Suzuki did it better”. Even the narrative novelty of _Pulp Fiction_ seems to me to find its source in Japanese films that I saw in the 60′s. Basterds is the film where Tarantino really takes command of his style. And it’s also flat out, down right, smart as hell. In Basterds Tarantino says interesting things. That opening scene . . .

  • 16. frances  |  March 7th, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    radii,

    I’m not sure that Burton, for the most part, is trying “to tell a story” in the sense that I think you mean.

  • 17. tazio  |  March 7th, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    After Hurt Locker took screenplay and the best line they could come up with to justify this was ‘guy gets punched’ it was pretty obvious it was going to win picture. That’s the future of war movies: you’re not going to be taken seriously unless you lack the balls to make any sort of statement about what’s going on, regardless of whether you’d be right or wrong. Even less dignified than the death of the western.

  • 18. 16 Shells from a 30.06  |  March 7th, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    Nice column.

    Eileen Jones is the best.

  • 19. Plamen Petkov  |  March 8th, 2010 at 6:07 am

    never cared for Burton’s weird just for weird sake alone stuff, and second, books never adopt well to movies with the exception of Clockwork Orange, maybe.
    And YES, I am a huge fan of the Alice books; this movie is just yet another unnecessary “addition”, another desperate move by the talentless Hollywood to make money somehow by pillaging classic works that have no copyright on them.
    Off to watch Dance In The Vampire Bund now. Way better.

  • 20. MD  |  March 8th, 2010 at 8:58 am

    @9,15
    I don’t get the fanfare about “Basterds” either. It was OK. There were some genuinely great performances, and still more pretty good ones. But the thought of sitting through it again makes me retch. “Pulp Fiction” and “Reservoir Dogs” withstand repeat viewing. For me, those are his only movies that do.

    @17
    Do you mean “Hurt Locker” didn’t have a political message? If so, I disagree. It didn’t have a broad, overt political agenda, but it illustrated scenes that speak for themselves: the private soldiers competing with US army and making things worse, the mutual suspicion between soldiers and locals, the efficacy of jury rigged bombs. Everything to say about oil has been said. This is a small, personalized story about an adrenaline junky foil to an absurd and futile world of violence, paranoia and opportunism.

  • 21. Dameocrat  |  March 8th, 2010 at 9:29 am

    I hated the white queen almost more than the red. She could have easily killed the jaberwockey herself, and stopped the red queen, with her supporters and her armies but made little Alice do it with no help at all. She knows the red queen is bad but chooses to do nothing. Why should Alice have given a damn. Reminded me of Obama.

  • 22. FrankMcG  |  March 8th, 2010 at 11:47 am

    Ha ha, another stunted halfwit displaying “conservative satire” in their name sneaks an obtuse Obama slam into an article on Tim Burton’s American McGee’s Alice.

    #19- Fight Club is one example of the movie being better than the book.

    Really though this whole Alice movie is pretty much Narnia only replace Christian overtones with inflated self-amusement.

  • 23. tazio  |  March 8th, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    @20 Are you really trying to tell me that ‘bombs blow things up’ is an important message? Really? Face it, The Hurt Locker is a melodramatic, disjointed fairy tale full of cookie-cutter characters: a black man in command who disapproves of the unorthodox approach of the corn-fed country boy hero, a young man afraid of death, and a desk jockey who doesn’t understand what REAL WAR is. It’s sheer bullshit, and if anything, these unimaginative characters give the movie a tangible conservative bent. That’s why it’s so fucking quiet about what it wants you to think about the scenes it gives you. The clowns behind the movie understand that the most ra-ra shit you can get away with these days is a half-hearted “support the troops!” like bigelow gave last night. Even the ‘criticism’ of mercenaries it puts forth boils down to a jab at the fighting ability of people with funny accents

    Seriously, have you ever sat down and had an off the record chat with an Iraq vet who’s going back of his own accord? The real people who want to go back do it because they’re allowed to kill anyone if they’re brown and remotely suspicious. They relish the chance to murder with impunity in the name of the law, and there’s none of that in The Hurt Locker. Just a bit of fratboyish roughnecking to lose some steam. The seedy underbelly of the American armed forces is hinted at very lightly, sure, and they try really hard to make the main character look like a hardass, but if the movie was really supposed to cover aspects of Iraq that haven’t been covered before (like you’re arguing) it would also be about the most horrible American atrocities committed and witnessed by American soldiers, not just about how we’re the real victims because we’re trying our best while these uncivilized darkies just keep planting bombs in each other’s backyards. Wawawawa, us occupiers have it so hard :(

    Now, a movie about a unit that regularly rapes and murders locals for fun in the neighborhood they patrol, that would be a war movie worth giving best picture to.

  • 24. MD  |  March 8th, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    @23
    I like “Hurt Locker” for what it is, but you seem to hate it for what it’s not. You want a comprehensive commentary about modern atrocities committed by the west? That’d be a good idea. I’d watch that. But it’s not what this movie is, and that was always clear. You want a movie that covers different sides in depth? Again, good idea. But this movie is about the fear and vulnerability associated with their position. You emphasize that by limiting POV. Think of every jungle war movie, and how each includes a scene of everyone firing blindly in the direction of an unseen threat.

    Those movies are generally racist as fuck, but an accurate political picture takes a back seat to drama most of the time. This one wasn’t that bad in those terms, as far as I know. Other movies should be made that offer different perspectives on events we’ve only known by our own historical tunnel vision.

    It’s a small character driven story. It doesn’t cover a whole shit load of ground, or make ambitious statements about politics. It shows it from street level, where it’s chaos, and policies are distant and abstract. Whether the details are realistic is debatable, as you suggest, but it’s what’s included, rather than how much and how clearly, that makes the difference to me. Which are the details I’ve mentioned before. I like the subtle way events and consequences are introduced.

    It would make rotten propaganda, though that wouldn’t stop anybody (the US Navy kicked around using the Village People song in advertising for a minute; I hope I’m wrong and that’s a myth). The main character is a nihilistic thrill seeker with no agenda either way. He’s a borderline sociopath. He shows concern about that kid that died, but he also gets his fellow soldiers into pointless and devastating fire fights. The whole of his motivation is that he can’t stand around picking a cereal.

    They’re getting their asses beat by guerrillas invisible among the locals (since they probably are locals) with Sanford and Son technology.

    Anyway, I think you’re describing something this movie was never meant to be. It’s like questioning the anthropological validity of “Avatar.” It tells a story in a war setting, with some good details and twists thrown in; it is not a thorough socio-political allegory.

  • 25. radii  |  March 8th, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    some good observations and analyses in these here comments re; Hurt Locker – most insightful views on that film I’ve seen anywhere

    it would be nice if we could get even one film made about what’s really driving these wars and the dark underbelly of the various participants … but Gen-X and Gen-Y essentially have no politics and hence no point-of-view nor any foundation in literature and the human condition … we have desensitized videogame experts now sitting in featureless warehouses in Las Vegas-adjacent directing drones in the battlefields half a world away and the explosions they see on their screens they caused and real people are dying. Think they feel anything?

    … as for Tim Burton, just look at how he massacred a perfect film – Planet of the Apes – with his awful-on-every-single-level remake

  • 26. radii  |  March 8th, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    oh, and for Inglorious Basterds, it is Tarantino’s most uneven film … I’m sure Harvey Weinstein told him he couldn’t put off making a Holocaust™ film any longer and so Tarantino decided to make everyone morally ambiguous to the point where you didn’t care if any of them lived or died … and it is 2 films, the one before the basement bar shootout and the one after – which descended into farce, camp and crappiness … Tarantino showed friends some Hong Kong film with a plane going into a building after 9/11 happened to watch their shock so it is not surprising that he would belittle Nazi inhumanity and negate the humanity of the story …

    Tarantino sets up a revenge arc – the young girl who gets away at the end of that opening, best, scene will face off to-the-last with her Nazi pursuer who killed her family … but NOOOoooo, it never happens and when our heroine does die you don’t care

  • 27. GhostUnit  |  March 8th, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    Tarantino’s films are about people (mostly thugs) making long, arrogant, self-important speeches to other people when they have them under their guns. Rinse and repeat, gunshots, ending.

    If surprises me to see how many people are into that kind of stuff.

  • 28. tazio  |  March 8th, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    @24 Of course I hate it for what it isn’t! I wouldn’t be complaining about this movie if it were any successful mix of realistic, daring, original, funny, insightful or even fucking entertaining. What was put on the silver screen was pathetic Remarque fan fiction tailored to contain enough bathos and flattery to be prime award bait.

    Otherwise, well, it really isn’t a useful movie. Everything in it has been poached from other sources and reassembled in a manic fashion, with no visible concern for how these pillaged devices will affect the narrative. Hell, what the whole thing amounts to is a series of melodramatic re-enactions of news headlines strung together with interludes of Renner and those other assholes aping characters that haven’t existed for almost 40 years. It’s Frankenstein’s war movie. Or maybe Tommy Wiseau’s.

  • 29. Myf  |  March 9th, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    Basterds’s naked revisionism was made it such a perfect distillation of b movie mores. It was a ton of fun, and as both Mark and Eilleen pointed out, it was the most humanizing of Nazis any film has ever been. This was all done very cleverly and convinced me that Tarintino really has a grasp on what he’s doing. Good holocaust films have one important message, germans could have done more to stop the nazi regime, basterds showed that and was also tons of fun and not full of the normal hollywood ‘oh its so sad these jewish fellers are dying’ bathos

    Tim Burton hasn’t ever done a good movie outside his normal hot topic gothic purview, aside from Peewee. His lack of creativity has been most clear in films that he could have easily made wonderful but instead made into kitschy TIM BURTON TM trash. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Sweeny Todd were both massive letdowns that could have been great in the right hands. Why have not evolved the musical in any way? Sweeny Todd was begging for doom or drone but it got some The Music Man shit. Tim Burton is a droopy old man whose personal set of imagery has long become dated and trite. Helena Bonham Carter as the same character in every movie, nice things are really bad things! Bright purples are now dark purples!

  • 30. FrankMcG  |  March 10th, 2010 at 11:41 am

    As bad as Hurt Locker was, I feel we’re making progress because it was still better than the atrocity that was M.A.S.H. Every time I see that thing referred to as a classic and consistently breaking top 10 comedies lists, I just have to chalk it up to self-important Boomer horseshit.

    I’d also like to take this chance to take a shit on Robert Altman in general. I constantly hear people praising his overlapping dialog (i.e. “shit you can’t understand”) as so realistic because “That’s how people really talk!”

    Real people and real talk are boring. There’s a reason they have to pump so much drama into reality shows: because every day conversation is mind-blowingly inane when you put it up on the screen. People who praise Altman for this always come across to me as people who know nothing about movies but really, really want to come across as some sort of authority on them.

  • 31. FOARP  |  March 10th, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    Okay, you’ve finally given the game away with all the anglophobia in this piece, so you might as well just come out and admit that E. Jones = Dr. Dolan .

  • 32. MD  |  March 10th, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    @28
    I disagree that it’s not insightful. It’s minimalist, so I think the intent can be easily lost because there’s no obvious contemplation. Some viewers just see the action and stupidity, but they’re not thinking of the implications of story elements that pass by without emphasis. Like I said, the thing that sends Renner back isn’t a moral duty or patriotism, it’s boredom. His motives are nihilistic, no better than Meursault’s complaint that the sun was hot. They don’t show any atrocities committed by Americans, but it’s clear he doesn’t really care about the place either. IMO, covering atrocities would make the movie sprawling and confusing, though I think there ought to be other movies that go over all the things we’ve done there.

    Contrast it with “District 9,” which I thought was OK for such an ambitious modestly-budgeted film, but it was also overrated and ham-fisted as a social commentary. All they did was exchange planets for countries, and it freed them to make a White Savior movie with no historical baggage. In fact, a lot of the most severe prejudice in the film came from the native South Africans. There’s an argument to be made for portraying the oppressed picking on the more oppressed, but at the same time we have real historical issues on the table that they chose to decontextualize in a rather convenient way. And in the end it’s just another movie with wishful thinking about redemption.

    @31
    I dunno. For the most part, it’s plausible. But Jones references Orwell in the Oscar article, and Dolan can’t talk enough shit about Orwell.

  • 33. JoJoJo  |  March 10th, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    All the exile gang share some core opinions. Taking a righteous shat on the Brits (and well deserved) is one of them. But I’m fairly certain Eileen ain’t Dolan. I don’t think Dolan can even pretend to like some of the stuff Eileen has enjoyed.

  • 34. motorfirebox  |  March 12th, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    @23 Yeah, Hurt Locker also lacked a rollicking swordfight scene, and a steamy romance scene, and it had nothing of import to say on crop subsidies in the US. What a shallow, one-dimensional film!

  • 35. FrankMcG  |  March 15th, 2010 at 1:20 am

    Hurt Locker could have played up the more effective scenes (any Arab civilian with a cellphone could be the trigger man), but for the most part it was just Lethal Weapon in the Middle East.

    A far superior “war” movie was In the Loop, but Hollywood latched onto Hurt Locker instead because it was:

    a. Just like every other loose cannon cop movie they had scene so they could understand it.

    b. A loose cannon cop movie IN IRAQ so appreciating it meant that you were totally up to date on relevant issues.

    c. Directed by a woman so the academy could pat itself on the back for how progressive they are.

    If B & C sound familiar, just think back when Crash won.

  • 36. michaelbix  |  March 18th, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    But Miranda Richardson WAS a Lewis Carroll Red Queen (well, actually the Queen of Hearts) and proved astoundingly bad tempered, willful, ill-informed and frightfully dangerous to anyone within her sight… in an uneven, lightweight film by Nick Willing, marked by occasional brilliant performances. One of the strongest roles, apart from Richardson, was the shattered, impulsively childlike, and sad Mad Hatter created by Martin Short.

    And in this film you would not have found (with or without subtext) a redeeming Cheshire Cat… the Jim Henson/Whoopi Goldberg creation was not likely what you would have wished for. “Alice in Wonderland” as produced by Robert Halmi Sr. and Robert Halmi Jr.

  • 37. GhostUnit  |  March 22nd, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    I don’t know what the intent was but this is actually a kid’s movie. It’s got the depth of a cartoon. Also, nothing happens that wasn’t already shown in the trailer. This movie is kind of like a filler for the trailer, and what a boring, pointless and dumbass filler it was.

    Finally, the story sucks, terribly. You wrote “There’s a war theme in it that’s pursued with surprising gravity” but I don’t see where you’re coming from. The whole thing was lazy, idiotic and preposterous.

  • 38. EJ  |  March 30th, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    The reason the story is terrible is that you can’t make a serious story based on “Jabberwocky.” It’s the all time classic parody of heroic verse. It’s deliberately written so that the more you try to invest it with serious drama, the more ridiculous it sounds.

    All this movie does is prove that point.

  • 39. Deborah Rehn  |  November 1st, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    Burton’s Alice is a classic bildungsroman – a novel of becoming – for girls. She has lost her sense of identity during adolescence, on the verge of succumbing to societal pressures. When she meets the Red Queen she’s identified as “Um”. There is constant questioning if she is the real Alice. This is what girls in our American culture have typically gone through – (Surviving Ophelia is a good documentation of this). The story unfolds as she summons herself and her courage, with the help of her friends, to fulfil her true purpose – and to slay the dragon demon of fear and conformity. She is rewarded with an independent career as the world becomes her actual Wonderland.

  • 40. Deborah Rehn  |  November 1st, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    correction – the reference was meant to be: Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls – dr

  • 41. Typewriter  |  November 5th, 2011 at 8:16 am

    I stopped reading after “Disney crap like Lion King.”

    Oh yeah, one more thing:

    YOU JUST LOST THE GAME.


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