UPDATE: Today is May 31st, 2010 – Memorial Day. I stumbled across this article and thought I’d update my post – according to them. Just to be fair, this doesn’t change my opinion of the film or my review – but it does attest to the power of popular opinion.
My Review of their Review: I stumbled on this review browsing the endless posts at Digg.com that purports to represent perspectives from everyday people like you and me. Since their site and WordPress are not connect I thought I would post my thoughts on their thoughts here for your consumption. And in the process I came up with this new category: My Review of Their Review. You get the benefit of my practical movie review along with theirs. If you haven’t yet, take a look at my original review of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.
With that said: I must admit that from the onset their review seemed sloppy and oddly contradictory. But this isn’t a new experience in the decade where anyone and everyone can post their thoughts, opinions, advice, expert and not-so expert experience online for everyone and no one at the same time. I’m not opposed to this idea because, well, lets face it I’m doing the very same thing! Yet to me, the airways and byways end up resembling rush hour traffic and what stands for the best route to get home sometimes detours you to areas you’d rather not venture. In a world of online blogging, bloviating, and exchanging one inner most thought with another, it’s pretty easy to feel overwhelmed with advice and opinions which is really like no advice or opinions at all. Thirty one flavors – how will I ever decide? Who do we listen to? The little voice in our head that screams, “run em’ over, all of them!” or every other site visited with the catchy URL that suggests added length to your special member, free internet sex, or anything on YouTube with an attractive face. In part that is the very reason for Above the Line – practical movie reviews from someone who in the very least has a graduate degree in film, but modestly speaking is also a filmmaker and someone who has viewed over a thousand films so you don’t have!
I digress. Well, sort of.
Back to the review in review-sheeps clothing. In the first paragraph, or perhaps it was in the description field, the reviewer comments that Tim Burton’s retelling of Alice in Wonderland achieves, in effect, a bold step in changing our perceptions about the original story penned by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson – more lovingly known as Lewis Carroll. Following this assertion, the reviewer goes on to tell us that Mr. Burton’s version of the story is actually drawn from the original books by the aforementioned Mr. Carroll. Huh?Well, which is it? How does Burton draw from these works and simultaneously detour from them? In my opinion, Burton does indeed draw heavily, if not entirely on the source of these novels but any departure can only best be described as little alterations here and there. Alice as a teenager, returning this time instead of for the first time. Got it.And then what happens? Further into my disagreement, the only real difference I find is the benefit from computers, advanced editing techniques and 3D hocus-pocus. No, a 3D version of a 2D film is not a retelling or an imaginative departure from the many, and I mean many, films and television versions that have come before. Sorry, no. Ah, yes, marketing. If you thought this was the same movie with a different wrapper, would you go? No, maybe, but why? I do applaud Mr. Burton, though. His visual style, amid the style-less filmmakers out there continues, however commoditized, maturing and growing from picture to picture, genre to genre. When you think of Timothy William Burton you think of Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Beetlejuice, and you should, if for no other reason than his visual style. I mean, Beetlejuice? It’s timeless, and the characters stand as if sunbathing naked, newly born in the bosom of cinema parenthood. Of course Johnny Depp doesn’t hurt the equation, nor the often unique characters that populate Burton’s landscape. His movies stand scrutiny often for their inventiveness – odd, yet available characters who might not look like someone we know but surely behave like they do. Who doesn’t want to take Edward in, comb his hair, scissors and all? If one were to expound simply on the basis of technological achievements this would be by far the most inventive if not the most visually satisfying of all films prior, 3D aside. So maybe that is reason alone to make the film, though this humble reviewer thinks not. I guess for those who know me they might ask, but what about views of John Carpenter‘s The Thing, based ostensibly on the 1951 Howard Hawks–Christian Nyby film The Thing from Another World?- which be the way, you prefered the remake to the classic? And then there is the 1972 film, Solyaris, inspired by the 1961 novel by Stanisław Lem of the same title, later remade by Steven Soderbergh in 2002 – of which you preferred the remake? Well, to that I say, using lyrics from the Byrds, “To everything – turn, turn, turn, There is a season – turn, turn, turn, And a time for every purpose under heaven”.
I appreciate the extent of your article but must seriously question the reliability of a review that comes from a slick as rain, social-network-like website that is built upon the reliance of sponsors and advertisers with ready-to-click links for our online gambling equivalent purchases of everything we stumble upon, on-line.
“Buy the DVD because we think the movie was great. Check out now and we’ll send your very own copy of the movie to you by clicking here.” Sorry Mr. or Mrs newreleasewall.com. I’ve seen this movie and this iteration lacks, among other things, a new take on a beloved story with tangible characters I want to invest two hours of my life in. I put this film right along side the Spike Jonze movie version of Sendak‘s Where the Wild Things Are – which, btw, was terrible. Why? Because it was wrong for all the reasons the reviewer at newreleasewall is wrong – for suggesting, however well intended, that to base a new work on that which came before is assurance that we the collective movie audience will slurp it down and ask for seconds. Leave the stories and movies we hold dear as they are, and push yourself to create new stories that somewhere, perchance, others will hold dear because, well, films like this are unnecessary anywhere MY wild things are.