Alice in Wonderland – Review

Yes this is a little late but Mild Concern doesn’t have the benefit of press screenings and as Alice is still top of the UK box office this is still relevant, totally. I’m afraid what follows is another positive review, damn my good viewing judgement!

I chose to see the film in 2D so I could focus on the film without weird, slightly off images and tired eyes and I’m glad I did. Tim Burton is well known for his stunning and unique visuals and Alice does not disappoint, the beautiful imagery did not need 3D to make it sumptuous and entrancing. Such a good looking film requires big words.

Admittedly I was worried at the start as the “real world” was suitably dull and shot in standard fashion, all the better for highlight the wonders of so called Underland. It turns out Alice was mistaken about the name in her previous visit and this is her second time down under. Alice does feature quite a few familiar events but the story quickly veers off from the classic Disney plot to have Alice destined to destroy the Jabberwock giving a more satisfying conclusion to her time in Underland.

Mia Wasikowska does an admirable job carrying this film from start to finish though in her scenes at the very start and finish she seems to put all her effort into the accent rather than the acting. Johnny Depp is as good as expected portraying a truly disturbed hatter, though it was odd to hear him share scenes with Barbara Windsor’s Dormouse.

Other performance highlights included Matt Lucas’ charming Tweedledee and Tweedledum and Stephen Fry’s purring Cheshire Cat. Anne Hathaway continues her journey towards being an actress I actually like, though black lipstick on her huge lips is a bit horrifying. It’s a real shame that amongst all these great character performances Helena Bonham Carter has chosen to completely steal Miranda Richardson’s performance from Blackadder. it works well but is a little lazy.

Alice is a good looking and enjoyable journey and it was a relief to see a fantasy film made by a company that can afford to do it properly after so many Sci-Fi Channel original movies. Real actors were distorted in all sorts of ways and blended seamlessly with the computer generated scenery and charaters. Sadly the film’s destination was a little bit of a let down as after the final showdown it ended with a bit of a whimper.

It is a children’s film after all so not particularly challenging but enjoyable and nice to look at all the same.

Out Now – 5th March 2010

Time for your recently regular look at the week’s film releases. At least one big release this week, one that we almost didn’t get to see at all.

Alice in Wonderland

Tim Burton brings us this 3D adventure in which Alice returns to the “Underland” to find it taken over by the Red Queen. With appearances from all the usual characters Alice must slay the Jabberwock and end the Red Queen’s rule. Sure to be an interesting experience and will make a star out of Mia Wasikowska who shone in TV’s In Treatment. My pick of the week simply because everyone else you know is going to see it, and you don’t want to feel left out. Expect wierdness.

Chloe

Amanda Seyfried continues her transition to the big screen in this sexual thriller about a wife (Julianne Moore) who tests the fidelity of her husband (Liam Neeson) with the help of a young escort. Expect drama, sex and betrayal.

Legion

It’s the end of the world! God sends down angels to bring about the apocalypse while a pregnant waitress is believed to be carrying the new messiah. I’m not sure why God would send a messiah and try to end the world at the same time but I guess that’s what you have to watch the film to find out.¬† Expect a few epic fight scenes between supernatural things.

Case 39

Renee Zellweger is a social care worker who takes on the case of a ten year old girl which brings on all sorts of horrific events. Expect to see Bradley Cooper horrifically murdered and Zellweger’s face to look odd.

Exit Through The Gift Shop

It’s a documentary about and partially filmed by Banksy, revered graffiti artist. It might be good, IMDb seems to think it is. Expect it not to be out in a cinema near you.

Ondine

Ondine is a film I heard about for the first time about five minutes ago. It is a modern fairytale starring Colin Farrell as an Irish fisherman who finds a mermaid in his fishing net. Expect authentic accents for a change.

The Father of My Children

As this is a French drama about a film producer struggling with suicidal despair this is only on limited release. I included it here just to use the picture at the top of this post where the lead appears to be a cross between Johnny Depp and Sean Penn. Expect subtitles.

Odeon Caves, World Keeps Turning

Move along everyone, there’s nothing to see here. It is reported that Odeon will now screen Alice in Wonderland just like everyone else.

The boycott was weakened when Cineworld and then Vue dropped out leaving Odeon in an increasingly weak position. Disney were simply trying to be sensible and attempt to reduce piracy, not by attacking film fans who obtain films illegally, but by giving them a little bit of what they want. The DVD will be released 13 weeks after the film debuts next week and people will still flock to the cinemas to get the big screen experience. IMAX screenings are already sold out!

What a load of fuss about nothing. At least it gave me an excuse to use plenty of stills from Alice in Wonderland, and get it plenty of free press.

Odeon, Fanatical About What?

In possibly the last chapter in the tale of Alice in Wonderland‘s UK release Vue has agreed to screen the film, following Cineworld’s lead, while Odeon plans to ban it. The real oddity here is that the film premieres at the Odeon Leicester Square as a fundraiser for The Prince’s Foundation for Children and the Arts. So the Odeon is refusing to show the film… except for that one time. A boycott stops making sense when it’s just you following through, I can only see this as a huge revenue loss for Odeon.

Cineworld Drop Alice Boycott

Cineworld have announced that they have reached a compromise with Disney and are going to show Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland despite the earlier DVD release date. The Times “understands” that this is due to a promise from Disney that this will not become the standard for new film releases. The whole mess continues to baffle me as the average consumer doesn’t know when a DVD is going to be released and probably doesn’t care, especially for a 3D film where the cinema offers a much better experience. Other cinema chains are likely to follow suit or lose large audiences to a major rival.

Alice in UK Boycott Dispute

It was pointed out to me today that I had completely missed the story of the three big UK cinema chains, Odeon, Vue and Cineworld, threatening to boycott Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. In a bid to combat piracy and have the film available for consumers to buy on DVD sooner Disney are proposing to have the DVD out 12 weeks after the theatrical release rather than the standard 17 weeks.

The cinema chains are unhappy as this will allow them less time as the exclusive outlet for the film and so predict they will lose money, and with these three owning about 60% of all British screens and over 90% of British 3D screens Disney would stand to lose millions should the boycott go through. Disney tried the same tactic with A Christmas Carol last year but eventually caved to the cinemas demands so could well do the same this time around.

From the cinema’s point of view it is clearly benificial to have the film exclusively for 17 weeks rather than 12 but isn’t having the film for no weeks at all an even worse prospect? I feel it might be worth Disney calling the cinema chains bluff as I don’t see following through with the boycott as a good business decision.

With today’s technology and the modern consumer’s demand for media content as they want it, when they want it, it is refreshing to see a company like Disney make moves¬† towards not forcing people to wait for access to a film in the medium they want. If someone misses a film in the cinema and are able to then see it on DVD they are arguably less likely to turn to piracy. As the rest of the world moves forward the entertainment industry cannot hope to stick to old outdated distribution methods. Earlier this week Bollywood film Striker was released simultaneously in cinemas and on YouTube, allowing the choice between the big screen experience and a more on demand option.

If consumers can’t get what they want through official means they are liable to turn to illegal options that are more convenient. Disney is making a step in the right direction and I hope they are not hindered by the cinema’s interference.