Friday, March 26, 2010

Then I Opened The Third Seal, And I Saw...

Okay, so some BAD, BAD news coming out of Hollywood this weekend.

At least, I think it's bad.

I've been told that I'm elitist. What do you think, imaginary audience?

Anyway, here are some links. I'll go from best to worst.

First off, this from Bryan Singer, director of the first two X-Men movies: he also directed the excellent The Usual Suspects and, more recently, Valkyrie. He's a good director, I think; he's just made some bad decisions recently. Singer also helmed Superman Returns. This is bad, because I think the X-Men franchise should go away. The last two films (X3 and Origins) have been more focused on CGI rather than character or story--though I don't think it's a coincidence that the better X-Men movies were made while Singer was in charge, and the franchise started failing when he left. The bottom line is that if Bryan Singer is going to make this work, he's going to have to put his foot down and get this franchise back to what made it great.

Think that's the worst I can throw at you, imaginary readership? You're wrong. It gets worse.

I'm no Harryhausen fanatic, but the man was a master, and apparently his work on the 1981 Clash of the Titans was pretty flippin' sweet. After Alice in Wonderland, I'm really soured on films whose sole draw is their visuals, so I'm going to be extra-critical of the 2010 remake of Clash.
You want my real, uninformed opinion? It looks like Transformers (more later on that wonderful franchise) but with animals instead of robots.

And now we discover that Louis Leterrier is planning a Clash trilogy. Woo hoo. Because what movie audiences everywhere need is biodegradable Transformers. Right.

Now, Leterrier has done some halfway-decent work. His first film, Unleashed, got moderately good reviews. His second film, Transporter 2, is my personal favorite of the franchise, and got mixed reviews. His most recent project (I can still say that because Clash isn't out yet) was 2008's The Incredible Hulk, which was overshadowed by The Dark Knight but was an excellent little superhero flick. So maybe we'll give Leterrier the benefit of the doubt on this one.

Here's the worst news. It's from Michael Bay's official website, and here's the link if you're not convinced. I'll let it speak for itself:

Transformers 3 has been going very well. We are going to shoot in LA, Chicago, Washington DC, Florida, Texas, Africa, Moscow, and China. On the talent front, we just locked in Frances McDormand and John Malkovich. Both amazing actors I've always wanted to work with. We also just got Ken Jeong, he is the super funny actor stuck in the trunk from “Hangover” and the Doctor from “Knocked Up.”

We start shooting pre-shoots in about one month.

I also was at a Ferrari charity event this week raising money for a hospital being built by Ferrari in Haiti. I announced that night the newest Autobot to join Transformers: the Ferrari 458 Italia.

I also want to thank everyone on this site that donated to the Make -A-Wish charity. We raised $20,000 which I will personally be matching. This is a great charity where they make wishes come true for kids who are very ill. We have had many Kids from Make-A-Wish visit us on our Transformers sets and this time we will be posting video of their visits on Transformers 3.

Michael Bay


OMG!!!!!!!! A FERRARI AUTOBOT?!??!?!?!?! LOLZORS HOW C00L IS THAT?!?!??!?!!!????!?!!?!?!?
Kidding, of course. What, will the Ferrari have an Italian accent ("Well, hello-a there, Autobots! Whaddya all sittin' around, lookin' glum for, ah? Would-a you like some of my fresh pizza to cheer you up, ah?")? Bah. I believe AnonymousInternetUser3304 said it best: 

"go die in a hole michael bay"

That's it for me. Long live the stupid people that make the smart ones look so, so much smarter!

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Wrong "Alice in Wonderland", Part IV: Semi-Shiny!

This week has positively flown by.

It seems like a mere thre--what? Oh, that joke is outdated and I should never dredge it up again? Oh, okay.


So this-here is the final instalment in the Pontificator's four-part miniseries on just how much Alice in Wonderland failed. This one will probably be a bit more blunt and short than the others, because the other entries in this series were more fact-based and therefore (counterintuitively, I know) more subjective. In focus, I mean.

See, it's hard to quantify visual effects. And then there's all sorts of biasing things that come into it: like the fact that Tim Burton is undeniably a master of visuals. Or the fact that I did not enjoy Alice in Wonderland, and I don't think it's a well-made film.

So the short story is that I feel like I have to give Burton the benefit of the doubt because he's done so much good stuff in the past, but I don't want to give him the benefit of the doubt because Alice is a terrible, horrible, no-good film.

Perhaps I'll break this down into Likes and Dislikes--Cheers and Jeers. Or...well, perhaps getting creative with words is a good idea. Tears and Leers: "tears" given to what I thought was bad, "leers" given to what I thought was wonderful.

Tears for the visual effects in general. They were derivative. I've seen this landscape before: it was called Middle-Earth, it appeared in a trilogy called The Lord of the Rings and it came out in 2001, 2002, and 2003. They were good.

Leers, though, for the palette. Helena Bonham Carter's realm was pretty consistent--hearts and Red were the main images. Anne Hathaway's hideaway (Hathaway's Hideaway--sounds like a pub) was a bit less consistent, but at least that motif of airy, ethereal, incorporeal, White was present.

Streams overflowing of tears for the misuse of 3D. Seriously? The only redeeming factor of  the 3D was the flying cups during the tea party. That's ALL. For 3D to be valuable, the film has to be visually focused on the 3D. Call me a homer, but I think Up and Avatar are the only 3D films I've seen that use well the 3D.

Tears, too, for a lack of motif visually. Now, there were AREAS of Underland that had a consistent motif, like Helena Bonham Carter's place and, to a lesser extent, Hathaway's Hideaway. Right now, it seems, for 3D films to be successful, they have to find a motif--natural, mechanical, whatever--and exploit it. I think part of the reason that Up and Avatar were so successful visually is that they chose their world and stuck with it. Alice flits from tangled forest to wasteland to grim dark brooding palace to heavenly airy etherea to checkerboard/battlefield and can't decide which to focus on.

And...this concludes my report. I do NOT recommend spending money to see Alice in Wonderland, either in 3D or in 2D. It is a waste of time, money, and screen-space. Don't see it unless you can see it for free. I give it 3/10.

Long live finality!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Wrong "Alice in Wonderland", Part III: How To Annoy Audiences Without Really Trying

This keeps getting more and more fun!

I mean, I started off delving into the narrative shortcomings of Alice in Wonderland,  and that was cool. Difficult, but enjoyable, and--I think--profitable.

Then, yesterday, I looked carefully at the thematic flaws that plagued Tim Burton's latest work. A bit longer, more esoteric, but even more enjoyable than the first instalment, because I got to imagine what an Alice with some thematic unity would look like.

Tonight...tonight, I'm going to rip into the biggest problem that confronted Alice--its characters. Development was weak, casting choices were weak, character arcs were weak, character choices were weak...the whole thing reeked of laziness. (For more on the riveting topic of laziness, see the first instalment of this miniseries.)

Let's start off at the beginning with the most controversial characterization in the film: Cap'n Edward Todd, owner of a famous Chocolate Factory--or, as he's known in real life, Johnny Depp. Now, I don't claim to be a Depp fan--Depp fans are the ones who can recite his lines from "21 Jump Street". But I have seen some of his stuff--especially his earlier stuff--and Depp used to be amazing and versatile, and he hasn't entirely lost that (see: Public Enemies). But Depp is falling into Cap'n Jack mode more and more nowadays, and that's a bad thing.

See, Cap'n Jack is just fine--in the Pirates universe! Cap'n Jack really should NOT bleed over into every character Depp plays. But, unfortunately, he does, to an extent.

I did not witness Burton's direction of Depp, so I don't know if this weird hodgepodge of characters that Depp sports is something he came up with, or if it's a product of Burton's imagination. I suspect that it's Depp's fault that the Hatter is so sketchy.

The other thing about the Hatter (I hated the Hatter, in case you, my imaginary audience, can't tell) that drove me crazy was his swirling and eddying accents. There was deep Scots brogue in there, which in my uninformed opinion would have been excellent for the entire film. Then there was some of that weird half-British drunk dialect that Cap'n Jack is famous for ("...'allo, beastie!". Then there was some normal American. What gives? If that's supposed to illustrate the Hatter's insanity (multiple personality disorder is more like it), it failed, at least in my case. I didn't hear all those different accents and say, "Of course! The Hatter is a conflicted person!", I said "Johnny Depp is a lazy son-of-a-gun."

Enough about Cap'n Edward Todd, the Demon Barber of the Chocolate Factory. Moving now to what was the best performance of the film--Helena Bonham Carter's. And yes, I still am refusing to call her the Red Queen.

See, Carter's a bit of a quiz. For a while she kinda was a rut actress--she played characters like Bellatrix Lestrange in Harry Potter and Marla in Fight Club. That was her bread-and-butter, and it really worked for her. So when I heard that she'd be playing the Red Queen, the only reason I wasn't surprised was that I knew that she's married to Tim Burton.

Carter's character was good--probably the best in the film--but it was regrettably shallow. As much as she could, she developed it, but there really wasn't that much to run with. She shows sparks of depth, but the fault ultimately lies with the scriptwriter.

We're throwing a lot on Linda Woolverton, aren't we?

Mia Wasikowska...wooden. Nothing more needs be said. Sure, the script didn't give her a lot of wiggle-room, but she had only three settings: mildly confused, mildly amused, and mildly afraid. Or maybe that last one was "mildly angry." I really couldn't tell. This is the difference between a good actress and a bad actress: Helena Bonham Carter turned the terrible character that the script gave her into a halfway-decent character, but Wasikowska just played the script straight up. Bad idea.

While I'm bashing on poor Linda, I might as well bring up another one of my major beefs with the film: too many characters who didn't know their places. It's fine to have the Tweedles in the film, for instance; they're memorable and, if done right, can be funny. (They weren't done right in Burton's Alice.) But give them little glorified cameos; don't give them major screen time unless they're going to advance the plot. The frog- and fish-footmen were well-done; they're small but hilarious characters in the book who everyone got a kick out of seeing in the movie. That's how the Tweedles should have been. Another example of this was the Dormouse. Was she/he supposed to be a cheap Reepicheep knockoff? Funny? Heart-warming? Stirring? What? Whatever the purpose of the Dormouse, it failed--it was a waste of screen-space and screen-time that did nothing whatsoever to advance the plot.

And then we have good ol' Anne Hathaway, an actress who used to command a lot of my respect and now has about a teaspoon of said respect left before I begin despising her entirely. What was that she was doing with her arms? Was that supposed to be ethereal? Because it didn't look ethereal. It looked a) colossally stupid, b) like she was drunk, and c) like Cap'n Jack.

Funny how we keep coming back to Jack, isn't it?

Anyway...she could have been good, again--if she had been given some sort of backstory. Like, to whom was the vow of pacifism made? Why did she make this vow? How did she get hold of that armor? What's the background on her being a accomplished potionsmistress?

A review I read suggested that maybe Hathaway wanted to play it a bit more edgy, a bit more ambiguous, and some of that seeped through. As in, is the White Queen good or bad? But all I saw was a pathetically butchered performance that should be shot on sight and buried in an unmarked grave.

Those, then, are my thoughts on the horrible characterization within Alice. Depp really left a bad taste in my mouth, but Woolverton and Hathaway come in for a fair share of my ire, too.

Tune in tomorrow as I discuss the visuals of Alice in Wonderland, answering such riveting questions as: was 3D worth the extra charge? Does Burton still have it in terms of visual design? Are Alice's visuals its redeeming factor? From what classics of cinematography does Alice shamelessly borrow? Does this look infected to you?

Well then, folks. Till tomorrow!

Long live disdain!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Overflowing Wellspring

Sounds sci-fi and cool, don't it?

Yeah, it do.

So after the gigantic stretch-run of a post that was my most recent entry into the Alice in Wonderland miniseries, my muse turned to lighter issues. So here they are. They're not hard to think about or even necessarily relevant, but I want to get them down on...

...see, that's part of the problem with the disappearing of paper. It's harder to say "get them down on paper" because these thoughts may never be on paper. Weird.


So I'm a ginger ale fan, and I picked up some Canada Dry while I was at home. Canada Dry is NOT my favorite ginger ale--that spot belongs to Vernors--but I couldn't find Vernors this time, so I went with what is, in my opinion, a far-distant second best in terms of quality, taste, and body.


It seems I'm actually a dry ale fan rather than a golden ale fan. Vernors and other small, regional ginger ales are "dry", which means that they have heavier carbonation and sharper, more nuanced, fuller flavoring. Seagrams, Canada Dry, and Schweppes are all members of the infinitely inferior "golden" variety, which is weaker, sweeter, less carbonated, and generally much more wimpy and soft.


The other point I need to raise is my admiration for the concept of keylogging. I know it's kinda...not too smart...for me to say that I like the idea of keylogging, considering the fact that keylogging is a nice way to steal information, which is wrong and also a crime. But seriously! It's so simple. If you want to find out, foolproof, what someone is typing, and where they're typing it, you can either keep track of what keys they type, via keylogging, or you can stand over their shoulder and watch them.


And, of course, dangerous, criminal, and wrong. But so, so brilliant.

Okay, I'm done. Peace out, yo.

Long live fountains of inspiration!

The Wrong "Alice in Wonderland", Part II: Thematic Unity and Logic? Who Needs 'Em?

My opinions are like fine wine: they only get more pronouncedly poignant with age.

(I was going to say "They only improve with age" but that was a tad braggadocic, even for me.)

(Braggadocic. Google it. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle used it once. So...I'm in good company.)

(Aaaaaand...I just compared myself to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Looks like I can't escape braggadocio after all. Also, it looks like I can't escape parentheses.)

So this-here is the second part of my four-part diatribe against the travesty that was Alice in Wonderland, and seriously. Why the HECK did I go see it? Of course, hindsight is 20-20, but even re-viewing the trailers...they are not in the least promising. I think it boils down to a sentimental attachment I had to the source material that allowed me to overlook the absolute shortcomings in Burton's interpretation.

Now, I believe that before I continue here I must offer an apology for my bitterness against Alice, apology here being used in its original sense, meaning a defense of one's position. I often judge adaptations against their source material; I most certainly judged Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings against J. R. R. Tolkien's books. But when necessary, I can switch that habit off, and that's exactly what I did for Burton's Alice. I do not dislike Burton's interpretation because of its ravaging of Carroll's original; I dislike Burton's interpretation because of its poor quality. In other words, I'm not judging Burton's Alice relatively, in comparison to its source material; I'm judging it absolutely, in comparison to generally-accepted standards of excellence.

So anyway.

The first unit of this series covered the severe narrative shortcomings of Alice in Wonderland; that was relatively easy, because we can all tell when a story works and when it doesn't work, when it makes sense and when it makes us scratch our heads.

This time, I'll be discussing the thematic problems and disjointednesses of Alice, a subject which will of necessity be more subjective, less absolute. But I'll give it my best shot, and I expect some disagreement, especially on something as subjective as this.

The narrative flaws of Alice actually contributed to the film's thematic flaws. For instance, I felt the film's greatest thematic problem was the conflict between themes, the struggle for precedence between the themes presented in the film. It almost seemed like Linda Woolverton, the scriptwriter, couldn't make up her mind which theme she wanted to emphasize.

Thematic harmony is important in scriptwriting--or at least that's my opinion as a viewer. Themes need to intermesh with narrative and with each other in order to make sense AND to have power.

The five main themes that I counted were as follows: self-awareness, destiny, loyalty, unreality, and compassion.

Self-awareness, also known in Hollywood as "the follow your heart" motif, is primarily Alice-centered, though it affects the Hatter and the Cheshire Cat as well. The whole "wrong Alice" plotline, as well as the search for the champion, tries vainly and not-too-valiantly to freshen this soul-crushingly worn-out, overused, tired cliche of a theme. Then, too, you have the Hatter's melting-pot of characters, eventually resolving to his transformation into Braveheart on the battlefield--er, chessboard. Or how about the Cheshire Cat? Is his character arc another iteration of this theme? After all, he seems a bit non-committal early on in the film ("I don't pay attention to politics") and then later ends up helping the Hatter and Bayard and that ineffably STUPID mouse...

N.B. If I had to choose, I'd probably say that the predominant theme of Alice in Wonderland is self-awareness. Which is a real shame.

Another important theme in Alice is the idea of Destiny. Unlike most of the other main themes of the film, this one's pretty straightforward, or as straightforward as a discussion of destiny can be. The problem with destiny is that it's a dangerous, dangerous theme for filmmakers to dabble with. As a general rule, you devote a whole film to the theme, or you allude, or you leave well enough alone. You don't try to make destiny a part of an ensemble cast of themes.

Examples: the previously-mentioned Lord of the Rings alludes to destiny but doesn't really flesh it out. Because PJ was smart. He knew how film-consuming a theme destiny can be. On the other hand, just about every time-travel movie ever focuses on freewill/destiny.

It can be done right, but destiny should be either a controversy point (LotR: was Gollum "fated" to die?) or a starting point for philosophical discussion (Terminator 2 and "no fate but what we make for ourselves").

Loyalty. There we go, say the Alice apologistsThere's one you can't discredit. There's one Burton and Linda Woolverton got right.


See, again. This would be a GREAT theme to have at the center of the film. I mean, seriously, think about it. You have the sharply defined factions in Underland, Red and White. (Wars of the Roses, anyone?) Then all of a sudden between these warring factions comes the exceedingly normal (for Underland) Alice Kingsley. Who will she join? To whom does she owe her loyalty? Is Helena Bonham Carter's unquestioned authority, willingness and ability to lead, organizationally-oriented mindset, and badass army worthy of Alice's fealty? Or does she bow to Anne Hathaway, who is sure beautiful and has a pretty house and takes vows and can mix up an AMAZING size-potion? Or does Alice perhaps set up shop as the Blue Queen and use her awesome size to decimate everyone?

You'd want to see THAT movie, wouldn't you? You know why? It's because THAT movie has logical conflict, and in THAT movie theme and narrative support each other.

Unreality is pretty much at the heart of Lewis Carroll's Alice, so it's not surprising it makes a showing in Burton's Alice. Perhaps the small part it plays thematically (I'm not talking visually yet...that's for Thursday) is good, given the other liberties Burton takes with the source material.

See, the question of "what is real" has been a favorite with creators of narrative for hundreds of years. The iconic Bill Shakespeare loved this idea of reality vs. unreality, and he used it in a lot of his great works (Hamlet, Macbeth, Timon of Athens, Romeo and Juliet). So Carroll was hardly treading new ground when at the end of his book he decided to deliver a massive middle finger to his readers in the form of an "it was all a dream".

So it makes sense that, given the direction of the Burton Alice, unreality gets some play, but not an overwhelming amount. What doesn't make sense is the fizzling-out it succumbs to. At the beginning of the film, "is it all a dream?" is an important conflict. By the end of the film, you're not even sure if it was a dream...or if the dream itself even occurred.

And finally, the idea of compassion, which is another theme around which this film could VERY WELL have been structured. (Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: "It might have been.") Anne Hathaway keeps talking about her vow not to hurt anyone--Alice wins over the Bandersnatch by compassionately returning its eye--poor ol' Bayard's family is in danger, dang it! But there's no depth to this compassion; lacking a richer cultural backdrop and any form of poignancy, it becomes a mere exercise in character differentiation.

Notice how I called it character differentiation. Differentiation is different from development. Differentiation is helping the audience tell characters apart, and a lot of times it's technical--vocal or visual or occasionally narrative or something along those lines. There's a lot of character differentiation in Alice in Wonderland. What the film lacks is character development--the imbuing of differentiated bodies with differentiated personalities, characteristics, souls--lives. And I will discuss this issue of character at length tomorrow, as I delve into the hodgepodge of characters that makes up Depp's Hatter, how Mia Wasikowska's performance as Alice is more two-dimensional than those playing-card soldiers of Helena Bonham Carter's, and whose acting performances deserve praise out of the entire cast (hints: there are only three and I'm counting voice-actors too).

Long live whorish segues...

I mean, long live cliffhangers!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Ian the Pontificator Is Breathless

...and no, for those of you who want to know, this is NOT the second part of my four-part series on how Alice in Wonderland fails.

I read Animal Farm over the weekend, and I have to say that I'm pretty astonished. I'll have to read it several more times before I catch everything, but my first time through left me pretty breathless.
Just...Orwell's ability to use animals to so accurately portray humanity--our psychological and intellectual processes--is pure art. The symbolism is hauntingly accurate, but it's never heavy-handed, and it's always open to interpretation. Animal Farm takes shots at religion, politics, ideologies, history, psychology--all at the same time. What a master!

I think part of what makes Animal Farm so amazing is its limited-omniscience third-person perspective. The narrator is not an animal on Animal Farm--the narrator does not speak in the first person. But the narrator does not know more about reality, about daily events, than the animals do. The limited-omniscience third-person style is difficult to write--I know from personal experience--and it's rare. But it does have a peculiarly immersive effect.

And then, of course, there's the final chapter, with its heartbreaking images of the meeting in the farmhouse, the blurring of reality, and that one Commandment up there on the wall...


What a book. I'm a fan.

Long live quiet amazement...

The Wrong "Alice in Wonderland", Part I: Lazy Storytelling Is The New Black

More stilted that Mia Wasikowska's performance. More bloated than the Tweedle twins. More tangled than Alice's mop of light-blond hair. More unoriginal than the Mad Hatter's character.

I could go on. 

Should I go on?

For the sake of space, I don't think I will. I will, however, warn you, my imaginary readers, that I will relentlessly spoil, and you will thank me, because otherwise you might have been tempted to spend money on this atrocity. I did. I don't think I'll forgive myself for a long, long while.

(A brief interlude here. I spent two posts on Avatar and two on The Wolfman. So there's precedent for what I'm about to do. Which is create a four-part--yes, you read that right, FOUR-PART--reaming of Alice in Wonderland.)

So, where to's about the narrative? Yeah. The narrative structure of Alice is a series of disjointed frame narratives and desperate attempts at interwoven plotlines. For starters, the film has its primary frame narrative of 19-year-old Alice trying to avoid marrying the revolting Hamish (Leo Bill's performance in the part is the only entertaining part of the film). Then there's the "right Alice" plotline, which begins and ends too early. In the no-man's-land between these two warring plotlines is a hodgepodge of incomplete and haphazard attempts at narrative, including (but not limited to):
  • The rebellion against the Red Queen
  • The history of Underland
  • The Red Queen's quest for the Oraculum
  • The captivity of Bayard's family
  • The romantic involvement between Stayn and the Red Queen
Now, I'm all for narrative complexity, but Alice isn't narratively complex. You know what's a narratively complex movie? Snatch. Snatch. has all sorts of storylines and characters that you think are unconnected at the beginning, but by the end they're all in relatively the same place, after relatively the same thing--in short, the storylines come together and are completed. The problem is that Alice isn't Snatch. and Tim Burton isn't Guy Ritchie. Alice introduces interesting storylines and then lets them go bye-bye. Allow me to revisit my pretty bullet points:
  • The rebellion against the Red Queen--it begins promisingly, with Bayard a spy in the Red Queen's court and a secret forbidden language used as code by all of the rebellion and danger and what-have-you. But does this plotline come to anything? Not bloody likely. Bayard sort of slobbers his way into the background, the Outlandish code-language is ignored, and the rebellion is revealed to be...not really a rebellion. I mean, rebellions are supposed to have disorganized, ill-equipped, untrained citizen soldiers that nevertheless win a glorious upset victory. The White Quee--screw it. That was no White Queen. That was Anne Hathaway. Anne Hathaway's rebellion doesn't have a ragtag army of farmers at her back--she's got a CGI host of chess-piece soldiers who look like quite the match for the playing-card guys.
  • The history of Underland: promising, again, and then it went nowhere. We get one Fable-esque flashback and then nothing further. No Red King? What about Alice's first trip to Underland? Doesn't that extraordinarily pivotal event merit more than a thirty-second-long montage? And how about the Vorpal Sword? The Jabberwocky calls it his "old foe". Does the Jabberwocky have some sort of history with the Vorpal Sword? (Great voice-cameo by Christopher Lee. Some brilliant casting there, if you ask me.)
  • Helena Bonham Carter's quest for the Oraculum: Nope, sorry. The Oraculum looks to be a pretty valuable catch for anyone seeking to look into the future and stay in complete control, and so it makes sense that HBC is looking for it. And then she finds it. And then the White Rabbit steals it back. And then...we hear nothing more about it for the rest of the film. Except for in brief references to Alice's destiny.
  • The captivity of Bayard's family: Nitpicky? Perhaps. But Bayard counts as a supporting character, but little time is given to the subplot of his family's captivity. Sure, we get a few shots of them languishing in prison, but they seem to be more of a cheap narrative device to give Bayard some sort of "motivation" to join the rebellion. And then they escape: how? How does the Cheshire Cat manage to get them out? For that matter--well, let's add the Cheshire Cat to this list.
  • The Cheshire Cat's selective omnipotence: The Cheshire Cat is pretty darn powerful. He can fly, he can disappear, apparently he can move the moon, he can adopt forms identical to those of other people (see: The Mad Hatter at the beheading), and he can help various characters escape. How? And if he's so powerful, why doesn't he just impersonate Stayn, stab Helena Bonham Carter in secret? Or something? This is the syndrome called "selective omnipotence", and it usually occurs in good characters. The characters can do a whole bunch of different amazing powerful stuff, but they don't, for one reason or another--they choose not to. For examples, see: Professor X and Superman. They CAN take shortcuts--they're able to--but they don't choose to. "Selective omnipotence" is also known as "lazy storytelling."
  • The romantic involvement between Stayn and Helena Bonham Carter: Okay, so this one was halfway decent. It just didn't get the chance it deserved. This narrative thread had a lot of promise, in my opinion, and the fact that it sort of scruffled away and died and then ABRUPTLY CAME BACK TO LIFE is, again, an instance of lazy storytelling. I'd have liked to have seen something come of the accusation of seduction, but that would have required actual character development. So it didn't happen.
It was a waste of time was not at ALL a compelling story. I checked the time repeatedly. There was no sense of "what's going to happen next?", and some parts were narratively incomprehensible. Like the scene in the Bandersnatch's kennel. That was certifiably bullcrap.

Tune in at some point later in the week as I discuss the other shortcomings of Alice in Wonderland, including the film's many thematic disasters, Tim Burton's contest with himself to see how unoriginal he could be visually, and a crash course in wooden acting and flat characterization.

Long live scathing damnations!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Just Popping My Head Around The Corner


I'm back, but not really. My busy schedule continues to be very very busy, but I'm taking time right now to briefly blog about a few things which deserve bloggage.

First, my spring break is this week, and I'm making the theme of this week "Controversial Books". I plan to read Huxley's Brave New World and Golding's Lord of the Flies, and I've already started Orwell's Animal Farm. Now THERE's a great book. I'm a fan already--and Napoleon (foreshadowing, anyone?) just put himself in charge. There's a long way to go yet.

Second, here's the second Iron Man 2 trailer, and I'd just like to mention that I CAN'T WAIT TO SEE THIS FILM. It's my 'umble opinion that it will be sheer awesome.

Okay, that's all. Goodbye again.

Long live brief reappearances!