Alice in Wonderland
By Tom Macy
March 11, 2010
If I had a time machine, I would only use it for arbitrary things. After all, if there's anything the movies have taught us, it's that messing with major events from the past is on par with giving machines artificial intelligence. So I wouldn't use it to trip up Dave Roberts trying to steal second in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS – as tempting as that would be, the Yankees deserved to lose that series as much as I deserved to suffer some humility as a Yankee fan (suck it, Boston). But once little task I might deem inconsequential, yet still significant enough, is to go back to this past Saturday afternoon before I bought my ticket to Alice and Wonderland and tell myself: "Don't waste your time."
Am I surprised that Alice in Wonderland was a completely unimaginative, boring and predictable snooze? No, I saw what Tim Burton did to Willy Wonka and Sweeney Todd. But here, his laziness seemed to reach unprecedented depths. I would have thought if Burton himself refused to deviate from his three decade old aesthetic that has now become a tired shtick, at least a studio executive, writer, editor, anyone might come along and say "don't you think audiences are going to realize you're just turning the story into Lord of the Rings and the character of Alice into Neo?"
Well in light of it having the sixth biggest opening of all-time, it turns out it doesn't matter. I guess we know why I'm not in charge of how anyone spends their money in Hollywood. But that doesn't mean it's a good movie. As we have learned time and time again, financial success does not a good movie make. Even the Academy can figure that one out. Ba-zing!
But for me the most annoying thing about Alice in Wonderland did not occur in the theatre. Although the Mad Hatter's random hip hop dance at the end and the reducing of the Jabberwocky to just another CGI dragon were strong contenders. No, the most egregious offense was made several years before when I first heard that Tim Burton would be taking the film on. Great, I thought, Johnny Depp will be the Mad Hatter and Helena Bottom Carter will be the Queen of Hearts. This prediction was corroborated a few weeks later when the cast list was posted on IMDb. What was so frustrating about this was that it was practically déjà vu from when I heard Burton was directing Sweeney Todd. Back then my immediate response was, great, Johnny Depp will be Sweeney and Helena Bonham Carter will be the Queen of Hearts. And if I could use my time machine to travel in the future, I could give you a third example when I find out that Wizard of Oz is being remade by Warner Bros – I believe they hold the rights now – and that Burton - who has an established shameless remake relationship with them in Willy Wonka - was directing. Who wants to finish this sentence? Depp as the Scarecrow. Carter as the Wicked Witch. CGI flying monkeys. Roll credits.