Friday, 5 February 2010

Why Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland Will Probably Suck Balls

I think the best way to go about this is to look at why Tim Burton is so massively overrated and a bit shit, then specifically why he is incapable of pulling a good film out of Alice in Wonderland and finally who would have been better for the job (Michael Bay).

So first things first: Tim Burton has never made an exciting film. Go back and study your Tim Burton; Big Fish is a good film and you may have a bit of a weep (as I did) but there are no real highs and lows to be had, as with everything else he's ever done: its a bit quirky and heavily sedated. Secondly: Tim Burton has never made a really, really good film. In the last two decades the Tim Burton films which stand out in most people's minds are Edward Scissorhands (which is twenty years old) and The Nightmare Before Christmas (which he didn't direct but we'll give it him anyway (and is seventeen years old)), neither of which is amazing by any stretch and leaves seventeen years worth of forgettable films. So two good films plus Big Fish and the above average Sleepy Hollow in comparison to the at best dreary and generally stupid Batman Returns, Ed Wood, Mars Attacks!, Planet of the Apes, Corpse Bride and Sweeney Todd do not result in the reputation he has amassed. And he makes Johnny Depp do bad things.

Now the more perceptive amongst you will have noticed that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has been missed off the dreary films list, and this is because it isn't; it is shite. I went bounding to the cinema with he rest of them ready for this magical visual feast I had built up in my head, two hours later I left feeling sick and empty and another two hours later I was drunk and angry, denouncing the film to all the world (or half the Lake District). I think that it is possibly the worst adaptation of anything ever. Even the soon-to-be released Dante's Inferno game looks fun and the only thing that has in common with it's source is the title, I would rather watch the Resident Evil films or worse still the Alone in the Dark films back to back for the rest of my days than watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ever again. In the 1971 adaptation Gene Wilder's character was eccentric and fucking crazy but at the same time there was still a warmth to him and he was deeply caring. Johnny Depp didn't have a character, he was an empty shell, a bit creepy and possibly a threat to children. And how was it even possible to ruin the Oompa-Loompas?! The images leaked so far of Alice in Wonderland look visually stunning, but so did the ones of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and when the film was eventually released that was all there was; style devoid of substance.

I think in order to make a successful adaptation of something you need to have an understanding of what it is you are adapting (and having read the source material helps too). Well I have and I do and have come up with a short list of who would make a far better film. Terry Gilliam. All you need to do is watch Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Tideland and an understanding of the temperament of Alice in Wonderland is presented in abundance. Tideland (as intense and disturbing as it is) presents fantastically the heights of fantasy capable of a child's imagination and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas perfectly conveys the mood of confusia, enjoyment and fear of tripping. Alice in Wonderland sits somewhere between the two in the fantastic, absurd things she dreams up, her fuzzy logic and the vague associations she makes and her lack of time, space, and language perception or any kind of an attention span. Guillermo del Toro may also have made a good film.

So there you have it, indisputably Alice in Wonderland will probably be shit. But you'll still go and watch it. And so will I. And so will every other idiot.


  1. just yesterday i was telling my dear friend laura how terribly over rated tim burton is. she looked at me with a feeling of utter disgust and refused to listen to anything else i had to say from that point on.
    you dont know laura.
    you dont know me.
    but i agree with you. gilliam would definately have done the story proud. del toro, im not so sure. Alice in wonderland isnt as dark and creepy on the surface as he would like it to be. although he could probably operate the underbelly of it.

  2. ha! very enjoyable article!

    second: Nightmare Before Christmas is 17 years old?? fuck i'm getting old.

  3. I think i will reserve judgement on this article untill Alice in Wonderland!

  4. American Mcgee's Alice was beautifully dark and somehow kept the wit and charm of the original Lewis Carroll story. It's my absolute favorite interpretation and I'm disappointed that Burton's version nothing like it.

  5. All so true (although you handily forgot a cracking 22 year old Burton classic, Beetlejuice). And having finally forced myself to watch Alice (I was stuck on a 14 hour flight, what can you do?) - I was disappointed despite my incredibly low expectations. It's not even a half decent bank-holiday children's film.

    Quite why they spent so much money/time/effort making the cat's fur brilliant (which it is) I can't tell.

    The words 'polishing' and 'turd' spring to mind...