THE WEEKEND MARQUEE: Tim Burton In ‘Wonderland’; Plus Atoine Fuqua’s New Pic Not His ‘Finest’
After a year of advance buzz, including several teaser trailers and poster art, Tim Burton‘s Alice In Wonderland is opening in theaters across the country, both in 2-D and 3-D. Its arrival may mean that Avatar, which has thus far enjoyed a fruitful run at all Imax locations, will experience a drastic drop in sales — not that anybody will feel sorry for the highest grossing film of all time. Avatar could just shut down today and still be profitable. Disney has put a ton of marketing muscle into the Alice campaign (I swear, every bus stop in Chicago features that poster with Johnny Depp and his demented grin) in the hopes that it can stir some of that blue man box office.
About why he wanted to adapt Lewis Carroll‘s mind-bending classic for the big screen, Burton tells Screen Cave:
There have been so many versions and for me, I’d never seen a version that I really liked. So I didn’t feel like there was a definitive version to me that we were fighting against. And also, I liked what Linda [Woolverton] did with the script. She almost treated this story like how the Alice material has affected us, at least for me. It’s a story about somebody using this kind of imagery and this kind of world to figure out problems and things in their own life, and what’s fantasy and reality and dreams and reality — how they are not separate things, that they’re one thing. It’s how we use those things to deal with our issues in life.
It appears that this new version isn’t the definitive one either, but it’s certainly 100% Burton.
THE BUZZ: Mixed. Many critics are torn between the outstanding visuals and the meandering screenplay. Colin Colvert of The Minneapolis Star Tribune finds it dizzying:
“Indecision haunts every frame. The result is a clattering, hectic spectacle that by the end has run out of inspiration. It’s a home for abandoned ideas.
In The Wall Street Journal, Joe Morgenstern writes:
“A succession of chases and fanciful combats, more akin to Dungeons & Dragons than to Carroll, leads to a peculiarly truncated climax. The 3-D effects are enjoyable, but the added depth can’t make up for deficits in the concept or the plot.
But there are plenty of supporters, too. Peter Travers raves about it in Rolling Stone, saying:
Even Disney and a PG rating can’t bury Burton’s subversive wit. Like Carroll, he’s a master at dressing up psychic wounds in fantasy.
Michael Phillips of The Chicago Tribune admires the unique structure of Alice:
Its best and strangest interludes assert Burton’s skills as a fantasist, as well as Depp’s as a squirrely, inventive character actor.
And in USA Today, Claudia Puig praises the film, comparing to its closest rival:
When it comes to 3-D visual splendors, give me Wonderland over Pandora any day.
For those who were wowed with the look of Avatar but put off by the wooden characters and clunky dialogue, now there’s Alice in all her “muchness.”
Whether you’re taking mushrooms or going sober, it looks like there’s enough to like about Alice to warrant the ticket price.
Also opening today is Brooklyn’s Finest,the new cop drama from Training Day director Antoine Fuqua. It stars Richard Gere, Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke and Wesley Snipes. Fuqua has tackled the theme of cops before and he tells Hollywood Chicago why he’s drawn to it:
“[Cops] are as human as everybody else, and our first line of defense. We count on them daily to protect us, and they live the most dramatic lives day in and day out, outside of a solider in war. And some of them do it for years. Police officers have all kind of stories, from horrific to heroic. They are fascinating human beings when you go into their lives a little deeper.
Unfortunately, his film doesn’t capture that fascination.
THE BUZZ: Just okay, with a slight edge towards the bad side. Robert Wilonsky of The Village Voice blasts the film for its clichés. He writes:
Filled with every cop-movie convention since the invention of gunpowder and curse words, Brooklyn’s Finest is three movies in one, all of which you’ve seen before.
And in Globe and Mail, Liam Lacey writes:
As directed by Antoine Fuqua, the film is well-acted, occasionally hair-raising but ultimately made from stale material.
Who would’ve thought that a gritty cop drama about drugs and corruption would be so unoriginal? It’s not like the genre’s been done to death already.