Saturday, March 6, 2010

Alice in a 3D Spectacle

Yesterday I saw Tim Burton's new Alice in Wonderland. I saw it in 3D, which is definitely the way to see it, as the key to enjoying the film is to let yourself get caught up in Burton's spectacular visual imagery.

The story is a pretty standard Hollywood female-empowerment adventure about adult Alice's return to Wonderland (more properly called "Underland," in one of the little plot points that are potentially confusing without adding any meaning), but just like Avatar, the plot is just there string together the moments of visual wizardry that are the real meat of the film. The use of computer animation to make Alice shrink and grow is the best of the visual effects, and Helena Bonham Carter's performance as the Red Queen is well-complimented by the visual of her giant, heart-shaped head perching on her tiny body.

The movie only uses Lewis Carroll's work as a jumping-off point, so an essential part of enjoying it is being willing to accept the ransacking of classic literature. Of course, that's pretty much essential for watching anything with literary origins that comes out of Hollywood, so if you enjoy Tim Burton's style of film-making then you'll find something to like (though probably not love) in Alice. It's the sort of movie in which amazing visuals are held back by flawed writing, leaving the final product pretty good but not great.