UK Cinema Releases: Friday 5th March 2010



Alice In Wonderland (Walt Disney): Tim Burton’s adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s famous children’s stories conflates the two books Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass.

Alice (Mia Wasikowska) ventures into a fantastical world where she meets various characters including Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter), the Knave of Hearts (Crispin Glover), the White Queen (Anne Hathaway), the Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry) and the White Rabbit (Michael Sheen) and also has to slay a beast called the Jabberwock.

Although a big budget studio production, it is a major disappointment for a variety of reasons although that won’t stop British audiences from powering it to a healthy opening weekend despite mixed reviews. [Odeon Leicester Square & Nationwide / PG]

Legion (Sony Pictures): A fantasy-horror about a group of strangers stranded in a remote diner in the Southwest who unwittingly become humanity’s last line of defense a terrifying biblical apocalypse descends upon the world. [Nationwide / 15]

Chloe (Optimum Releasing): A remake of the 2003 French film Nathalie… about a doctor (Julianne Moore) who hires an escort (Amanda Seyfried) to seduce her husband (Liam Neeson) whom she suspects of cheating, which leads to unforeseen consequences. [Odeon Covent Garden, Showcases Bluewater, Newham & Nationwide / 15]

Case 39 (Paramount): A horror about a social worker (Renee Zellweger) who fights to save a girl from her abusive parents, only to discover that the situation is more dangerous than she thought. [Empire Leicester Square & Nationwide / 15]

Ondine (Paramount): The latest film from director Neil Jordan about an Irish fisherman (Colin Farrell) who discovers a woman (Alicja Bachleda) in his fishing net who he believes to be a mermaid. [Nationwide/ 12A]



1234 (Soda Pictures): British film about a wannabe musician and his band members trying to make it big. [Key Cities]

Exit Through The Gift Shop (Revolver Entertainment): A faux documentary about guerilla street artist Banksy and his collaborators. [Clapham Picturehouse, Curzon Soho, Everyman, Gate & Key Cities / 15]

Father Of My Children (Artificial Eye): A French film about a family who’s life is turned upside down when the father, a film producer, faces a crisis. [Curzons Mayfair & Richmond, Odeon Swiss Cottage, Renoir & Key Cities / 12A]

Motherhood (Metrodome Distribution): A comedy starring Uma Thurman, Anthony Edwards and Minnie Driver, set in New York’s West Village, about the dilemmas of motherhood. [Apollo Piccadilly Circus / 15]

The Shouting Men (Kaleidoscope Entertainment): Low budget British comedy about a bunch of Gillingham football supporters as they head north towards Newcastle. [Key Cities / 15]

DVD and Blu-ray Picks for Monday 1st March including Fantastic Mr Fox, Dawn of the Dead and Jacob’s Ladder
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Cinema Thoughts

Alice in Wonderland

Tim Burton’s vision of Alice in Wonderland is a garishly average affair which doesn’t do justice to Lewis Carroll‘s source material.

This version fuses the two books Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, whilst also making modifications.

Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is older than usual and the story follows her as she ventures into the fantastical Underland (or ‘Wonderland’ as some inhabitants call it).

It is there she meets various characters including Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter), the Knave of Hearts (Crispin Glover), the White Queen (Anne Hathaway), the Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry) and the White Rabbit (Michael Sheen) and also has to slay a beast called the Jabberwock.

Many children around the world have grown up with this story and the characters are fairly iconic to people of a certain age, so it was a no-brainer to make a live action feature film, especially given the success of Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005).

But Burton has made a deeply average film which only contains fleeting glimpses of magic and too much that is pedestrian and uninspired.

Major problems begin with the casting of Alice, who is played by an actress who seems like she has just fallen out of bed rather than down a rabbit hole.

Newcomer Wasikowska just doesn’t have the spirit the role demands, especially given all the mind-bending experiences the protagonist goes through.

The idea of making her older doesn’t add anything substantial and her journey towards an armoured warrior towards the climax is unconvincing.

The production design and visual look of the film – one of Burton’s big selling points as a director – is also badly handled, much too reliant on green-screen trickery, to the point where it all blurs into an ugly CGI mess with little craft or imagination.

This is no more apparent than in the famous supporting characters.

The likes of the Cheshire Cat, Tweedledum and Tweedledee and the White Rabbit are wonderfully visual on the page, but on screen there are wafer-thin digital creations lacking charm and generally passing by without any consequence.

The two exceptions are Depp and Bonham-Carter, who do bring some zest to their roles, with the former tapping into the surreal charm of his character whilst the latter conveys the aristocratic impatience of hers with nice comic timing.

But this is little relief in a film which is a chore to sit through.

To make matters worse, the 3D has not been thought through properly and as the first major studio film to be released in the format after Avatar, this could prove to be a big let down.

I suspect, though could be wrong, that it wasn’t designed as a 3D film from the beginning, but when the 3D bandwagon gathered steam last year, someone decided to tick a box in the hope of boosting the box office.

When you think of the events in the story – falling down holes, characters growing in size etc – it is a massive missed opportunity, whether 3D was originally planned or not.

In fact, the film itself is one big missed opportunity that fails to translate the material effectively and a sign of a director who seems to have lost his way.

> Official website
> Alice in Wonderland at the IMDB
> Other reviews of Alice in Wonderland at Metacritic