June 27, 2010

Now I've Seen It: The Worst Movie of All Time

All right, so that might be an overstatement. But I don't think it's by much.

Remember how, back in October of last year, I lamented the then-forthcoming issuance of another Tim Burton "vision," his dreaded reimagining of Alice in Wonderland? I wrote then that "I'm worried. I know it's gonna be horrible."

How right I was. Don't say I didn't warn me.

To be fair, I went into the viewing of this cinematic massacre with a completely closed mind, aided, of course, by the wonderful Trudi, who sat through the entire film with me. Together, we gasped at the ludicrous back story (what seems to be a specialty of director Burton these days), tittered at the dreary dialogue, grumbled at the overly ominous lighting and smirked at the obtrusive CGI that squeezed out and discarded any vestige of inspiration produced by Alice author Lewis Carroll and illustrator John Tenniel in the original tale.

And then there was Johnny Depp. As the Mad Hatter, no less.

It would be an understatement to call his performance "excruciating."

One of the peculiar things about this film was its dogged insistence on making Wonderland a sad, broken place...and Depp's Hatter some kind of tragic figure, who, like the other inhabitants of this creepy world, has found his joys and desires bound with briars by the e-vile Red Queen (played screechingly by Helena Bonham Carter).

Hey, we know the Red Queen's off her rocker and is totally, thoroughly unjust. But isn't the real fun of Carroll's world the same as that of, say, the Freedonia of the Marx Brothers' Duck Soup...that nobody gives a damn?

I mean, this is a Mad Hatter, for crying out loud. Not Henry Fonda in 12 Angry Men.

Then there was the problem of turning this wretched piece of celluloid into an action movie. Didn't work, Timmy. You know why? Well, there's this issue called character development that the film completely skirted. Makes it damned hard to care about anyone when the script is as tight as tapioca pudding.

Honestly, I would've thought the thing was ad-libbed if it hadn't been for that expensive CGI...which, shockingly, looked cheap and rather unrefined, despite what appears to have been an unconscionable number of labor-hours involved in the generation of such effects.

Perhaps the headline of this post is hyperbole. There are plenty of bad movies out there that might top Alice, such as Manos: The Hands of Fate and nearly anything by Oliver Stone.

But Alice is definitely up there. And that leads me to one final thought.

I've indicated in at least one previous post that a remake of a classic has to differentiate itself substantially from its predecessor(s), and I'm not going to take that back. But I will add that if you're going to put your own spin on a masterpiece, you might want to run it by people of taste before launching it into the crowd.

My feeling is, if it ain't frabjous, don't make it. Not nowhere, not nohow.

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