REVIEWS_Alice in Wonderland, The Box, The Road

Rebyu ni Vives Anunciacion
Inquirer Libre March 12, 2010

(Some parts of this review is written in Filipino/Tagalog)

Alice in Wonderland
Directed by Tim Burton
Based on the books by Lewis Carroll

The Box
Directed by Richard Kelly
Based on the short story by Richard Matheson

The Road
Directed by John Hillcoat
Based on the book by Cormack McCarthy

Sometimes it just gets confusing, these film adaptations.  Alice is eye candy but needs a heart, The Box borders on the pretentious, and The Road is depressing.

I found Tim Burton’s version a little cold and heartless – I couldn’t connect to any character emotionally.

Granted, the original children’s tale didn’t have narrative cohesion, but for the record, it’s in Through the Looking Glass, sequel to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland where the Red Queen battles the White chess-style. The poem Jabberwocky also appears in the Looking Glass where it’s some unknown guy and not Alice who battles the monster.

So for me, this mumbo-jumbo about Alice being married off and her slaying the jabberwock is more Looking Glass than Wonderland, all visual splendor and less about a young child’s imagination. And why did the Mad Hatter have a lisp? Hindi ko tuloy naintindihan yung ibang sinabi ni Johnny Depp. But for sure this movie will make tons of money – and that’s the bottom-line in Hollywood.

In contrast, Richard Kelly’s The Box is totally not accessible. Parang inside-joke ng director ang buong pelikula at siya lang ang makakaintindi. The Box is a high-concept sci-fi thriller about a husband and wife (Marsden and Diaz) who receive a mysterious box on their doorstep one morning, with instructions from an equally-mysterious man (Frank Langella). If they push the button on the box, they get one million dollars. At the same time, somebody they don’t know will die.

The movie feels like it intends to make the audience feel some dread (pagkatakot) and unease (balisa) but what you actually get is confusion (pagkalito) and annoyance (inis). I think it’s a mood piece – a movie intended to make the audience feel some form of emotion – and not a philosophical exercise. If it were I’d say it’s a stupid idea and the moral dilemma is naïve.

The gem in this trio is the father and son drama The Road, from little-known director John Hillcoat, starring Viggo Mortensen as a man who will do everything to keep his young son safe and alive in a dying, post-nuclear world where the remaining humans kill other people for survival.

The movie is as bleak and depressing as Cormack McCarthy’s book – one of my all-time favorites about a father’s profound love for his son. But the movie feels like it’s been over-edited, some very good lines from the book were missing either intentionally script-wise or were left in the cutting room floor. Overall I like this movie enough I’d buy the original DVD when it comes out. If only the movie can stay long enough in theaters.


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