Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Alice in Wonderland


I have an idea. Let’s remake The Wizard of Oz. Only, let’s have it kick ass this time! (Actually, what we’ll be making is a sequel, but there’s already a movie called Return to Oz, so let’s keep the title to confuse people.) Let’s turn the Tin Man into a Transformer who can shoot lasers out of his eyes and missiles out of his hands. Let’s make the Cowardly Lion into a were-lion who can turn into a muscle-bound warrior as our little band pilot their ass-kicking motorcycles down the Yellow Brick Freeway. The Scarecrow can be comic relief, with all the wry, cynical lines a movie must have these days. Let’s have Dorothy fall in love with the Wizard, who is really a young stud. And let’s bring in a dragon for Dorothy to slay at the end.
If you like the scenario above, you’ll like Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (which, we learn, was really called Underland; Alice misunderstood). If you don’t …
I can’t tell you how dismayed I was to see this movie unfold. It is intermittently visually interesting—I liked the big head on the Red Queen; in fact, I liked her much more than the simpering, sissy White Queen, at least Red had some blood in her veins—but for the most part the Disney version was much more imaginative.
But what were they thinking? The Mad Hatter becomes a tortured soul. The Cheshire Cat gets involved, which is something he would never do. In fact, making any of these characters into the sort of beings who would go on a quest, get involved in battles, behave in any way other than nonsensically, is so wrong-headed I can’t find words to describe it. Then they import stuff from “Jabberwocky,” one of the finest nonsense poems of all time, and try to make it make sense. There is the vorpal sword. There is the frabjous day, sort of like D-Day. There is a frumious bandersnatch, some sort of freaky giant fat cat. And of course, in the end Alice turns into Joan of Arc, complete with armor, and must slay the Jabberwock, which turns out to be nothing but a ho-hum dragon somebody dug out of the cyber-trash cans at some third-rate CGI firm in Taiwan. And we wind it up with the most ho-hum final battle I’ve seen in an age of ho-hum final battles.
I will never forgive Tim Burton for turning Alice in Wonderland into just another fucking video game.