Saturday, July 17, 2010
Toy Story 3 review
2:27 pm edt
There are times in life when you experience something for the first time and you realize you are experiencing greatness.
I experienced greatness the first time I rode Fahrenheit at Hershey Park. I experienced greatness the first time I ate a Rita's
chocolate/vanilla swirl frozen custard cone. And I experienced greatness this past Friday when I saw "Toy Story 3".
To be fair, its greatness is entirely expected. The first two "Toy Story" movies were great (something rare
for an original and even rarer for a sequel) and almost all films from Pixar Animation are great as well. The only thing I
was worried about going into the film was that maybe my expectations were too high, but those worries were unfounded. The
film lives up to the highest of standards.
At the end of the last film, Woody the Cowboy (Tom Hanks) was glad to be
reunited with his owner Andy, but it was with the understanding that Andy only had a few more years before he would outgrow
playing with toys.
Several years have passed, Andy is going to college, and he has a decision to make. He can either
put his toys in the attic where there's only the slightest of chances that he'll give them to his kids someday, or he can
just outright throw them out. Andy's mom mentions that the local daycare could use some new toys, but Andy isn't keen on donating.
Figuring they have nothing to lose, the toys take it upon themselves to get donated.
The toys don't know what to expect
at daycare, but they love it immediately. The other toys welcome them with open arms, and they all seem to look out for each
other. Their leader, Lotso Huggin' Bear (Ned Beatty) seems really nice And as the kids grow up and leave the center, new ones
are guaranteed to take their place. There's only one problem - most of the other toys get to enjoy the mature kids in the
Butterfly Room, but Andy's toys are stuck with the younger kids in the Caterpillar Room. The younger kids play rough. Really
rough. Being stuck in the Caterpillar Room is a nightmare for Andy's toys.
Astronaut Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) promises
to convince Lotso to let them into the Butterfly Room, but Lotso insists that Andy's toys pay their dues in the Caterpillar
Room first. Suddenly Lotso isn't so friendly and the daycare center turns out to be more of a prison. Suddenly rolling the
dice with Andy isn't seeming like such a bad option for the toys.
Woody, meanwhile, opts to leave the daycare center
before the other characters know what hit them. He knows he belongs with Andy and would rather be there for him and never
needed than have the fleeting affection of the daycare kids. He stows away in the backpack of a girl named Bonnie who turns
out to be a really good toy owner, much like a young Andy. One of Bonnie's toys warns Woody that the other toys are in danger.
The rest of the film is a race to break the other toys out of the daycare center and get back to Andy, whatever the consequences.
The film is filled with awesome gags, awesome moments and awesome characters. Lots of favorites are back, including
Jessie the Cowgirl (Joan Cusack), Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head (Don Rickles and Estelle Harris), Rex the Dinosaur (Wallace Shawn)
and others. There are a ton of new characters, the best of which is a vain Ken doll (Michael Keaton). If the film has a failing,
it's that it could have used another hour or two to develop all the new characters. They're toys, let the writers play with
"Toy Story 3" continues Pixar's streak of greatness. It's touching in the right places, funny in the
right places, and awesome in all places. It will more than likely end up as my favorite movie of the year.
2:26 pm edt
"The A-Team" really tries to avoid being one of "those" TV-to-movie adaptations. "Those"
adaptations are the ones that rely solely on nostalgia for the source material in order to get made and sell tickets.
particularly applies to cartoon adaptations, where we're expected to shell out money to see what hand-drawn characters and
scenery look like when millions are thrown into seeing exactly what all those rocks on "The Flintstones" look like
when they're real rocks. When it comes to live action adaptations, the films usually rely on gimmick casting and updated special
For the record, both the casting and special effects are excellent in "The A-Team." Liam Neeson
is Hannibal Smith, the wise leader. Bradley Cooper is Face, the pretty boy. Sharlto Copley is Murdock, the crazy guy. UFC
fighter Quinton "Rampage" Jackson is B.A. Baracus, the tough, mohawked enforcer. No one in charge of casting said
"People will pay to see Liam Neeson and Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson the way they paid to see Jessica Simpson in those Daisy
Dukes in 'The Dukes of Hazzard.'" The actors are cast because they are the right people to play the characters, and they
all turn in decent, respectful performances.
All four characters are people you'd want on your side, both on a mission
and in life. When they aren't coming off as four of the world's greatest drinking buddies, they're practicing a fierce loyalty
not displayed by characters in similar roles in other movies.
All have saved the others' lives at some point, which
means they all owe their lives to each other. It is a bond not broken by things like "imminent danger" and "federal
law." The only one who really gets pushed around is Baracus, mostly because he is usually opposed to either the violence
required for the mission or the need for him to be in a plane (he is deathly afraid of flying, understandably so with the
psychotic Murdock at the controls). Even then, the group makes sure to cook him favorite meal as a peace offering.
action scenes are surprisingly crisp and inventive. Murdock does things that no one in their right mind would ever do with
an airplane. Other scenes involve things that no one would ever do with a cannon, a tank, bungee cords, a bus door, rollerskates
and tires. We wonder what the grand finale will be, and are disappointed when it's little more than a shooting-and-explosions
Sadly, there is an area where "The A-Team" does drop the ball, and it does affect one's overall
enjoyment of the film. That area is the plot.
We are introduced early on to a set of plates that can be used in a printing
press to counterfeit U.S. currency. An army general friend of Hannibal's convinces the team to undertake an unsanctioned mission
to retrieve the plates. However, a bad-guy team of independent contractors steal the plates and kill the general. The U.S.
government blames the A-Team for botching an unsanctioned mission and the team members all go to prison.
A CIA agent
(Patrick Wilson) helps them break out of prison to retrieve the plates for the government again, but really wants them for
himself. An army captain ex-girlfriend of Face's (Jessica Biel, not coming off as half as smart as her character) tries to
keep tabs on everything. Admittedly she does a much better job of following things than I did and probably a much better job
than the film's screenwriter did.
"The A-Team" is ultimately a bad film, but not for the reason that most
TV-to-film adaptations are bad. There are specific flaws in plot and action, but it seems unfair to write off the whole project
because of that. The four main characters are well developed and the performances are endearing. I found myself liking the
A-Team, but disliking "The A-Team".
Get Him To The Greek review
2:24 pm edt
2008's "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" marked the last time we saw bizarre rock star Aldous Snow (Russell Brand).
It also marked the last time I was able to enjoy a sweet, heartfelt. R-rated comedy.
I have enjoyed admittedly nasty
R-rated comedies ("Step Brothers," "Tropic Thunder," "Bruno") since then, and likewise, I have
forced myself to sit through dull R-rated comedies that tried to play nice ("Pineapple Express," "Funny People").
But now, for the first time in a while, I don't have to choose between sweet and funny.
The film tells the story of two men presented with the opportunity to achieve greatness. Aaron Green (Jonah Hill) is a young record
executive who loves music more than anyone else at the label. His boss, Sergio (Sean "Insert Whatever Nickname He's Using
This Week" Combs), is looking for ideas and Aaron suggest putting on an Aldous Snow concert.
Snow has been out
of the limelight for a while now recovering from drugs, a divorce, a breakup with Sarah Marshall and a disastrous flop of
Sergio books Aldous for a show at L.A.'s Greek Theater and instructs Aaron to go to London to pick up Aldous
and bring him to L.A. If Aaron succeeds, he will be a made man at the company and Aldous will make a career comeback.
Aldous has a knack for finding trouble, and this causes problems for the duo's travel arrangements. He isn't afraid to delay
things by partying, drinking, doing drugs, hooking up with women, or searching for his estranged father (Colm Meaney).
of this drives Aaron crazy, of course, but this doesn't stop him from emulating his idol and partaking in some of the partying
himself. This causes an even greater rift between him and his nurse girlfriend Daphne (Elisabeth Moss), already upset with
him for his flat-out refusal to move with her from L.A. to Seattle to pursue a job opportunity.
Aaron's actions on
the road may be deplorable, but we want to see him and Daphne succeed as a couple. They have excellent chemistry in early
scenes, and clearly they are willing to go out of their way for each other. It's nice to see a screen couple worth caring about again.
Aldous may be too superficial to be as deserving of true happiness, but it is still touching to see him
try to work on his relationships with his ex-wife Jackie (Rose Byrne), his father, his son, Aaron, and even himself. It is
genuinely sad to see him struggle with his self-destructive tendencies, and uplifting to see him gain a measure of control.
Mushy stuff aside, the film's funniest parts are born out of raunchy humor.
• Aldous' and Jackie's songs
are so obscene that it's a wonder they ever became radio hits.
• Sergio uses intimidating profanity to teach Aaron
about sucking up to Aldous (a hilarious scene that establishes Combs as a strong comedic talent).
• Aldous wants
Aaron to hide his drug stash in the most disgusting way possible.
• Aaron and Aldous go on several wild, deplorable
• Aldous has an unconventional way for Aaron and Daphne to make up.
• And a poolside
stunt by Aldous has gruesome consequences. Again though, it's handled with a refreshing smartness and honesty that makes for more than cheap laughs (except for the drug stashing, that's all lowbrow).
best scenes in "Get Him To The Greek" are ones that don't seem like they took a lot of time to set up. These scenes
come off as though director Nicholas Stoller just set up a camera and let the actors run their lines. Or that Stoller and
co-writer Jason Segel were able to write out an entire scene in one sudden burst of inspiration.
Either way, the film
marks a welcome return of the kind of sweet, intelligent comedy that by no means should be seen by children.
Prince of Persia review
2:22 pm edt
Video games-turned-movies have a bad reputation in Hollywood for being consistent bombs. The good people at Disney have
promised that "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" is unlike any video game adaptation ever made. They claim to
have gone to great lengths to make it accessible, well-crafted and fun. After seeing the film, I can report that they have
spent a lot of money on the film, and that's about it.
The problem with "Prince of Persia" has nothing to
do with its source material. This isn't one of those zombie-laden splatterfests where the movie would be terrible no matter
what. There might be a good "Prince of Persia" movie to be made, but this isn't it. The plot is riddled with nonsense,
the action scenes and special effects are generic, the characters are poorly developed - and the acting is terrible. The film
could have been based on an acclaimed piece of literature and still been just as awful. Blaming the fact that it was originally
a video game is not an answer or an excuse.
The plot involves "Prince" Dustand (Jake Gyllenhaal), an unofficial
member of the Persian royal family. He and his brothers lead an attack on a subsidiary kingdom that they believe is selling
weapons to enemy empires. Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton) of the innocent members of the kingdom tries to protect a valuable
dagger, but Dustand intercepts it. One of Dustand's brothers gives him a holy robe to present to their father the king as
a war spoil. The robe turns out to be poisoned, the king dies and everyone thinks Dustand is responsible, despite him not
having a motive (his older brother is next in line for the throne and the robe was recently in the hands of enemies). Tamina
helps Dustand escape and they go on the lam together.
Tamina reveals a secret to Dustand. The dagger that he stole
from her is powerful as well as valuable. A jewel on its hilt releases The Sands of Time, which rewinds time one minute. But
there is also a huge stockpile of magic sand in her kingdom that might allow an unscrupulous person to rewind time years and
years. But if they rewind time too far, they might trigger a sandstorm that would wipe out the whole world. So it's best to
just take enough to rewind time for a minute. Dustand must stop the guilty party, but who is it? One of the power-hungry brothers?
Or his uncle (Ben Kingsley) who saved his brother the king as a child, unintentionally sabotaging his own chances at the throne
in the process? Fans of Disney's far-superior "The Lion King" know to put money on the uncle.
There's a laundry
list of problems with the film, I'll have to rattle them off quickly. All the actors are from America and England, they can't
play Middle Eastern convincingly at all. The characters are inconsistent in their dispositions (Tamina is particularly problematic,
she'll be wise and independent in one scene and nagging and needy in the next). The climactic fight scene makes no sense and
it's not clear how exactly the villain hasn't completely succeeded. And perhaps most irritating is the fact that the film
is far too violent. Adventure has nothing to do with the constant sword-skewerings, not to mention the way that it goes against
the family-friendly Disney model. Heck, the characters spend the entire movie trying to get control of a weapon.
will have "Toy Story 3" ready to go in three weeks, and I'll be ready to forgive them by then. "Prince of Persia"
is a bad movie, but it's too bland for its badness to stick with you. Its inability to hold anyone's interest may prove to
be its greatest strength, because just about everything about it is certainly a weakness.
Shrek Forever After
2:18 pm edt
Everybody's favorite disgusting ogre is back for a fourth family film.
The 2001 original saw Shrek (Mike Myers) meet his best friend, Donkey (Eddie Murphy), and fall in love with his human-turned-ogre
wife Fiona (Cameron Diaz) after saving her from a curse.
In the 2004 sequel, Shrek made friends with Puss In Boots
(Antonio Banderas) and got things off to a rocky start with King Harold (John Cleese) and Queen Lillian (Julie Andrews), Fiona's
The 2007 third installment was a collection of painful pop-culture jokes that I've blocked from my mind, but I do
remember that Shrek and Fiona had ogre triplets.
This would be Happily Ever After for Shrek, but the beginning of "Shrek
Forever After" sees Shrek having problems with the "Ever After" part.
He's happy having a family, but
he's not so happy with the idea of it affecting the rest of his life. He's definitely not happy spending so much time around
crying babies, a nagging wife, a claptrap best friend, an irritating array of fairy tale creatures and an inexplicably adoring
public that won't leave him alone. Shrek wants to be alone and feared again, a "real ogre," if only for a day.
meets up with shady dealmaker Rumpelstiltskin. Rumple's been having problems of his own since the first "Shrek"
film. Fiona's parents were ready to sign their kingdom over to him in exchange for lifting the curse when they found out that
Shrek had already broken it and called the deal off. Now nobody wants any of his deals. He wishes Shrek were never born.
and Rumple make a deal: Shrek will get a day to enjoy the kingdom being scared of him, and Rumple will take away day from
Shrek is whisked away to a version of the world that Rumple promised and enjoys a day wallowing
in filth and others' misery. When he's had his fill, he goes home to see his family. But Fiona, the kids and his home have
It turns out that Rumple took away the day that Shrek was born and now the whole world is twisted.
With no one to rescue Fiona the first time, Rumple got to take over the kingdom. He now rules it with an iron fist with an
army of wicked witches to do his bidding. Shrek has never met Fiona, Donkey, or any of his friends. Fiona is leading an ogre
rebellion against Rumple and is tough and disillusioned in love. And Puss is too fat to even fit in his boots.
spends the rest of the film trying to break the contract by getting a kiss from Fiona (even in a fake-ish fairy tale, it's
the only way to get out of a sticky situation).
Rumple tries to keep them apart, but like too many idiot villains,
he thinks separating them by walls and chains in the same room is better than making one of them just go away.
it just gets to the point where you want them to kiss not because you're rooting for Shrek but because it's painful to watch
the movie drag out the suspense.
"Shrek Forever After" is an odd way to end the franchise because the story starts out one way and then the battle is to get things back to the way they were, with no progression.
of the film involve Shrek being gross, Fiona being tough, Donkey being a yapper, Puss being fat, and Rumple trying to suck
people into his contracts. It's not a lot of unique ground, but at least the film eases up on the lame pop culture references
of the two sequels before it, and for that I'm grateful.
Nightmare on Elm Street review
2:15 pm edt
I'm probably one of the few people who likes the sequels to 1984's "A Nightmare on Elm Street" more than the
The point of the original is: "there's a killer who can murder you in your dreams." A scary concept
to be sure, but once you see it done once there's no reason to see it done a half-dozen more times.
The point of the
sequels is: "We've got a whole bunch more Freddy Krueger!"
It is Freddy, not the nightmares, that is the
key to the franchise.
Freddy Krueger is the villain of the series, and the only character to be in all its installments
(he keeps killing off the good guys). Unlike many slashers, Freddy is actually scary-looking with his horribly burned face,
whereas most of the other psychos wear generic masks and need to be holding sharp object to be frightening.
to say that he doesn't use anything sharp, his modified knife-glove is iconic. His other big advantage is that he can talk.
He didn't have much to say throughout the first "Nightmare," but by about the second sequel, he was a real chatterbox,
adding much-needed intentional humor to a franchise that frankly was already unintentionally hilarious.
I was thrilled
when I learned that Jackie Earle Haley was playing Krueger in the remake. Haley is an accomplished, Oscar-nominated actor.
He can be funny when he wants to be, and plays creepy almost too naturally. He also has a face fit for a horror movie, although
the Freddie-burn makeup obscures this. Still, Haley seemed to fit the role perfectly. I waited anxiously to see how the personality
that Haley would give Krueger. Eighty percent of the way through the film, I was still waiting.
All too much like the
original, this version of "Nightmare" presents Freddie as The Killer, not as Freddie. We don't see much of him,
we don't hear much from him. All he does is pop up, sometimes to kill people, sometimes to hurt them, but usually just for
the sake of popping up.
Sometimes pop-up scares are a good thing, if your brain can figure out the setup for how the
pop-up happened. But as long as there's a dream going on, Freddie can pop up anywhere he pleases, which is cheating. It is
also unnecessary, Freddie is scary enough through his appearance and his actions. He doesn't need to be playing the part of
His victims are typically uninteresting teens. Surprisingly, the films limits Freddie's sights to a group
of five, most of whom (except for the inevitable first victim) get significant screen time. I'm actually in favor of keeping
the number small, there's nothing to be gained by a high body count when it's clear the filmmakers aren't going to be getting
creative with the personalities, dreams, or killing methods.
The dreams themselves are a missed opportunity. The kids
lack the imagination to have proper dreams. Blame it on iPods or whatever, but they only dream about the situations that are
already happening. This is to make it more of a surprise when Freddie pops up in the middle of their houses. But I like it
when Freddie interrupts wonderful, crazy dreams.
The film actually picks up at the end when all the boring buildup
is out of the way, Freddie can get slash-happy, and we get a particularly gory version of the standard post-resolution instant
pop-up. But it's too little too late. The film's underestimation of the face of the franchise is ultimately its downfall.
The Losers review
2:14 pm edt
"The Losers" is a loser of a movie and the inevitable joke is out of the way. It is one of those comic book movies
that never lets you forget it is from a comic book. Throughout the film, characters pose in awkward positions and have exaggerated
physical characteristics that you can tell started out as drawings. Other comic book movies have done this formula - but better.
The movie starts as a team of CIA agents who are about to raid a drug camp in Bolivia. We meet the team, but the captions
go by so fast we can't rely on them. The members barely have personalities, so we aren't missing much. There's The Leader,
The Angry Guy, The Quiet Guy, The Guy With The Family, and the Smart-Aleck Tech Guy. They set up the camp to get bombed, but
realize there are children in the camp and try to rescue them. Max, the film's villain, has other plans. Things get botched
badly, and the team is forced to pretend they are dead and go into hiding, swearing eventual revenge on Max.
one of those bad guys who places such little value on human life, that one wonders how he's sane enough to be an evil genius.
Early in the film he gets out of a plane with an assistant holding an umbrella. A gust of wind causes the umbrella to falter
a bit in the assistant's hands, and Max kills her for it. This is supposed to tell us that Max is a perfectionist who believes
in violent consequences for failure. It really tells me that Max is stupid because now he has to hold the pesky umbrella himself.
Not to mention that he'll have to get rid of the body.
One day the leader of The Losers is approached by a woman (Zoe
Saldana, the only marketable name in the cast) who is willing to pay him and The Losers to get revenge on Max, as well get
them their lives back. She has a ton of resources, and the timing is right because Max is about to blow up a good chunk of
the world in a "restoring balance" plot lifted right out of "Watchmen." The plan seems too good to be
true, but the team goes along with it, not least because the leader has the hots for the girl.
The rest of the film
is mostly a series of scenes of The Losers trying to obtain clues or helpful items. They'll exchange some unfunny stakeout
dialogue, then there'll be lots of shooting, maybe an explosion or two and then they meet up to analyze what they've found.
Many of these sequences are set to Journey's "Don't Stop Believing," which means that the film is guilty
of the unforgivable sin of making me hate that song. The film climaxes in a sequence where two high-ranking henchmen are actually
dumb enough to get into separate vehicles and drive toward each other at full speed trying to squash the leader.
Losers" has the audacity to give us an unsatisfying conclusion, as if they'll have to get a sequel to give us the ending
we want. This movie is not going to get a sequel, early box office reports indicate it isn't even one of the top three films
in this, its opening weekend. I don't want to see a second "Losers" movie, hopefully you'll be wise enough to avoid
the first one.
Clash of the Titans review
2:08 pm edt
"Clash of the Titans" is a fairly generic sword-and-sandals epic filled with unconvincing CGI. To help the film
become a bad-but-fun experience, here are some Popcorn Games for you to play while you wait for the film to end:
The film stars Sam Worthington, current King of the Blockbuster Epics after his roles in "Avatar" and "Terminator:
Salvation." Here he is cast as Perseus, a demigod (half god, half human) in ancient Greece. Eat a piece of popcorn every
time fails to hide his Australian accent.
• Liam Neeson plays Zeus, greatest of all gods. He is supposed to be
the "good guy" of the Big Three Gods (the other two being Poseidon and Hades). Eat a piece of popcorn every time
he just comes across as an egomaniacal jerk.
• The plot revolves around the gods and their need for prayers for
humans. Apparently their power derives from these and without them they will die off. Eat two pieces every time the gods mention
this, but seem to be getting along just fine without them.
• Hades (Ralph Fiennes) interrupts a fancy party at
the palace in Argos to inform everyone that in a few days he will destroy the city unless they sacrifice the local princess.
He kills the queen just to show who's boss. Eat a piece of popcorn for every point on a scale of one to 10 that the princess
seems upset that he's just killed her mother. In other words, eat one piece.
• Hades won't destroy Argos by himself,
he'll use a mythical creature called a Kraken. Eat three pieces of popcorn when you realize that it's only been three years
since we've had another Kraken movie with "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest."
• Perseus sets
out on a journey to find a way to stop the Kraken. Along the way he encounters various CGI creatures, some good (flying Pegasus
horses, desert people who look like threatening Ewoks), some bad (giant scorpions, an ugly freak of a disgraced king). Eat
a piece of popcorn every time you get the feeling that the filmmakers couldn't come up with any good use for these creatures,
but wanted to "work them in" anyway.
• Perseus is accompanied by a band of soldiers, many of whom are
easy to confuse with one another. Eat a piece of popcorn for every one of them you can remember. If you can't remember any
of them, just eat one piece and count "the one with the beard" as one.
• Eat a piece of popcorn every
time someone in the group beats up Perseus to teach him a lesson about fighting. There are at least two times that I can remember,
there may have been more.
• Perseus is accompanied by Io (Gemma Arterton), a fellow demigod who becomes a love
interest. Eat three pieces of popcorn when you realize that she never mentions who her father is and that there is a one-in-three
chance that she and Perseusare both Zeus's son.
• The group has to get advice from a trio of witches who can see
into the future. Eat three pieces of popcorn every time you forget for a moment that you're not watching "Macbeth."
• The group has to do battle with Medusa, the mythical snake lady who can turn people to stone if they look her
in the eyes. You're going to want to yell "squint, you morons" at the characters. Stuff your mouth with popcorn
• And finally, shove an entire bag of popcorn up your nose when the gods finally do battle with each
other and we finally get the "Clash of the Titans" that the title promises. Don't worry, you'll never have to do
this because we never get it.
Alice in Wonderland review
2:03 pm edt
Thiis is going to be another one of those reviews where I repeatedly chew out a filmmaker for going to a certain well way
too often. In this case the director is Tim Burton, and that well is the one of the twisted fairy tale. He likes to show audiences things that are somewhat ugly,
somewhat beautiful, but always strange. He has done this with "Edward Scissorhands," "Charlie and the Chocolate
Factory," "Sleepy Hollow," "Sweeney Todd" and several others.
Now comes "Alice
in Wonderland," a film based on an already-strange children's book by Lewis Carroll. This seems like a good choice for Burton. Carroll already got
him started, so he just has to fill in a few gaps.
But this is precisely why this is a bad choice for Burton.
Audiences already know what he's going to do. We're familiar with the story and its characters, there won't be any surprise
there. We've seen the visual style of Burton's other works, there won't be any surprise there either. Burton has done so many
strange films that what he considers strange is no longer strange to us.
The storyline doesn't really follow Carroll's. In
fact, Burton's version is more of a sequel, as if he thinks we have enough interest in these characters to want to see them
in a new adventure. Nineteen-year-old Alice (Mia Wasikowska) takes another trip to Wonderland after she dismissed the trip
she took as a six-year-old as a dream. There she meets up with all the classic characters like the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp),
the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter), the White Queen (Anne Hathaway), the Cheshire Cat, the March Hare, the Dormouse and
others. They don't talk nearly enough in their famous riddle/confusing manner, opting all too often for straight talk that
advances the plot.
They all have a new mission in store for Alice, one that involves getting her to fight against
the evil Jabberwocky. In the course of the film, Alice goes from not wanting to kill the Jabberwocky because killing is wrong
to not thinking she can kill the Jabberwocky because he's too hard to beat. Since one of the film's themes is making the impossible
possible, and it's a shame that Alice doesn't decide to try to do the impossible and make peace with the vicious dragon. She
fights it, which is what everyone expects, and which I find disappointing.
The film is actually structured very
much like a typical "Harry Potter" film. The main character is bored with the real world, gets sucked into a magical
world, discovers that people in the magical world are a lot more friendly and nurturing, sees that the world is in trouble,
discovers that they are the only ones who can fight the villain and save the world, which they to do set up an inevitable
sequel. It's a structure done by many other, better films.
I compare it most to the "Harry Potter"
films because there is a lot of hopping around between minor characters. There are a ton of them, and we get to see very little
of each despite the fact that there are a lot of talented actors behind them. In fact, "Alice in Wonderland" shares
many minor actors with the "Harry Potter" franchise such as Helena Bonham Carter, Timothy Spall, Alan Rickman and
Walking out of the film, I heard people saying that it was "too bizarre." These people
have been tricked. Burton thinks he's being bizarre by throwing in a few mangled trees, grotesque hairstyles, and unconvincing
special effects (The Red Queen's digitally enlarged head looks particularly cheesy). He's really giving us the kind of bizarre
that is utterly normal for him.