Thursday, March 4, 2010

Hot Topic: Tim Burton's Alice

Hot Topic: Tim Burton's Alice

So what's the word on the new Tim Burton Alice film? Let's go to a critic to see their reaction;
And then there's Johnny Depp. As disappointed as I am in Tim Burton on this film, multiply that by a thousand for Depp. I would like to formally request that Congress step in and pass a law that prevents him from working with Tim Burton anymore, because at this point, I think they're starting to actively hurt each other. There were years where I was a passionate Depp defender, when the mainstream had no use for him at all, and I still feel like his best performances are breathtaking to revisit. "Dead Man," "Donnie Brasco," "Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas," and of course the twin triumphs with Burton, "Ed Wood" and "Edward Scissorhands." This time out, though, his work as the Mad Hatter is nigh unwatchable. It's a jumble of crazy voices and creepy make-up and shifting accents, and instead of coming across as someone genuinely damaged or mad or eccentric or fascinating, he just plain feels like he's trying too hard. And did anyone... ANYONE... really need a backstory for the Mad Hatter to explain why he's mad? No? Well, too bad, 'cause you're gonna get one. And it's really really stupid.
fffffffffffffffffuck. If that didn't rip this movie a new one, I don't know what did. It's getting some massive critical bashing

Now don't get me wrong, I'm actually going to shell out the money to see this one in theaters.. IMAX3D no less. I didn't even bother shelling out that money for Avatar. So that in itself is some compliment that I'm willing to spend the money on Alice.. Though, to be honest, I'm looking forward to re-watching the Tron Legacy trailer again than anything else.

What can I say, as much as I am a Tim Burton fan, I'm just not really feeling this one.

Maybe it's because all the advertising I have seen for this film called Alice in Wonderland, there's very little Alice in it. She has very little lines in ALL of the teasers and trailers and it's clear that this is Tim Burton Presents: Johnny Depp as the Madhatter fru-fru'ing around.

Tim Burton was awesome when he was a kitschy director. His movies included a lot of retro Americana and love of B-movies. A big part of what got him noticed early on was a knack for "creepy" abstract design. This was all derived from Halloween imagery and 50's Sci-fi/Horror. Even the Batman movies were rooted in retro noirish serials and had strong comedic villains to keep things lighthearted

I'm not sure how long it's been like this but I'm not sure I like it. There's something cynical abut how Tim's films are marketed. It's like Disney puts their name on everything and you can expect a certain amount of fluff and happy endings. Whether that's his fault or not, I don't know, but his trademark visual quirkiness is something I personally am getting tired of and there's something about it nowadays that makes it seem like it came off a factory conveyor belt. Suffice to say, Tim Burton these days is not so much the name of a director as it is a brand name that can be sold to people at Hot Topic.

The man made Mars Attacks! for goodness sakes. While it's not the most well loved film, it's certainly of a completely different aesthetic from this whole gothic fairytale kick he's been on lately. Need I remind you that it ends with Tom Jones surviving an alien invasion, and a bird landing on his arm as he starts singing in the middle of the desert?

It basically comes down to this. Tim Burton needs to go back to being John Waters in a vampire costume.

Think about it. Didn't you find it odd that Cry Baby felt EXACTLY like a Tim Burton Film (complete with Johnny Depp!) even though it's a John Waters film? Yeah. That's what I thought. Burton is the cinematic equal of a commercially successful author that really needs an editor. So maybe a producer strong enough to bully him around. Though the same can apply to Johnny Depp. Most people are just letting him "Johnny Depp" up the piece rather than pushing him to the high level of performance he is capable of.

Tim Burton at his best was Ed Wood, and the reason it is his best film is because you wouldn't be aware he was involved if you went in uninitiated. Alice in Wonderland feels like it's marketed as "Homogenized Tim Burton film product", but a lot of his work, especially the earlier stuff, has a hell of a lot of heart and more going on than just the visuals.

I think the real pisser is the placement of his name on other directors' work. Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline, 9... People actually think these are Tim Burton movies and that isn't right. His name wasn't on most of these, but they used the phrase "From the Director of Nightmare Before Christmas" but that's where the problem falls. Tim Burton DIDN'T direct Nightmare Before Christmas! This is what people think. This is wrong.

While Tim Burton wrote the NBC book, but it was NOT directed by him. The whole "From the Director of NBC" Piggybacking on a previous deception is also deceptive. Last year when Coaline came out, I had this very conversation with a friend of mine where they believed a new Tim Burton movie was coming out. I thought they meant Alice, which was still a year away. They were talking about Coraline and that the ads made said from the director of NBC..

I'm willing to bet that they intentionally said Coraline was "from the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas" without specification to dupe the Burton fools. Let me get this straight. Coraline was NOT Tim Burton. The real magic as to why The Nightmare Before Christmas was so amazing on the screen was NOT because Tim Burton. It was due to the real director. And yes, I shouldn't lump all the Hot Topic shoppers as Burton fans. I mean, the Nazis liked Wagner, but that doesn't reflect on Wagner at all.. Not unless Wagner had a Nazi party for his latest recordings like Burton did with Hot Topic... Oh look, a Hot Topic Alice in Wonderland event..

I've always thought Gilliam is what Burton would be like if Hot Topic didn't exist. Visually appealing, lacking decent story or direction, and utterly ignored by the public. But oh how I love him so.

Besides, adding a sinister twist to Alice In Wonderland is a gigantic cliche these days. Especially after that freaky film in the 80's and especially after American McGee's Alice. I just re-read Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass a couple of weeks ago and somehow I managed to enjoy them even though they weren't dark, cynical, gritty, violent, disturbed, or twisted.

I guess I'm just not a cool modern dude.

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