Movie Round-Up: March 5th, 2010

Brooklyn’s Finest:

Saw the trailer, looks interesting, has lots of actors I like… but I’ll probably wait and see this on DVD mostly because while it looks very good, it’s not a big action movie or horror or comedy, the three types of films that I think really benefit from being seen on the big screen and/or with an audience.  But, if you want to go to the theater and see a new movie this weekend, I can think of worse ways to spend your hard earned dollars.  Speaking of…

Alice in Wonderland:

I suppose it may be that I am just weary.  Weary of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp working together.  And the Helena Bonham Carter triumvirate too.  I got to see a screening of this and I’m glad I did because it saved me the $20 it would have cost for the wife and I to go see it.  I was bored.  The story is extremely predictable, and the settings are predictably vibrant and odd.  You know what this movie is going to be before you go in and it makes no effort to surprise you.  Alice goes back to Wonderland, she meets all the people you expect her to meet, she fights, she wins, she goes home.  This was the biggest let down to me.  There are a number of good reimaginings of the Alice tale that would make good films (for example: Frank Beddor’s The Looking Glass Wars) but instead Burton just rehashed the same old stuff with his penchant for weird by making people have large heads, over-sized eyes or lengthened limbs.  Oh, and like 95% of the people in this movie are pale.  And I don’t mean pale as in “light skin with a pink hue” but instead “pasty powdered makeup white”.  I suppose paleness appeals to some, but it doesn’t to me.  And, this movie is also in 3D.  Now, I’ve seen a bunch of 3D movies over the last few years as digital 3D has become all the rage, and Alice in Wonderland is probably the least effective use of 3D ever.  It doesn’t add much depth to the image at all, and in fact it feels more gimmicky because the only two or three times I noticed the 3D was when they stabbed things at the screen.  Unlike, say, Avatar, where they never did any “Hey look! 3D!” screen stabbing that I recall and instead the world just felt deep, because it was.  I didn’t hate the movie though.  It is probably great for families or die hard fans of Burton’s brand of oddness, but I’m glad I was able to see it for free and I don’t think I’ll ever see it again.

The Looking Glass Wars

Frank Beddor has written an interesting retelling of Alice in Wonderland called The Looking Glass Wars.  The angle he takes is that Wonderland is a real place, Alyss Heart is its princess, and she has to flee it to our world when her aunt Redd kills the king and queen and takes over.  The story follows both sides of the looking glass, as Alyss tries to grow up in her new world and as the resistance fighters try to keep the old ways alive under the boot of Redd.

I picked up this book at the request of my wife, who really loved it.  I, on the other hand, didn’t.  I also didn’t hate the book, I just found it to be predictable.  When the book was described to me as “a darker retelling of Alice in Wonderland if Wonderland was real” I had a pretty good idea of what to expect.  Not all the details, but a general sense of where the story would start, where it would go, and how it would get there.  In the end, though, it was the details that made the book worth reading.

I wouldn’t give the book two big thumbs up, but it was an enjoyable read, and good enough that I’ll keep reading the series as it develops.