This week at the movies, we’ve got a trip down the rabbit hole (Alice in Wonderland, starring Johnny Depp and Mia Wasilkowska) and a ride-along with the boys in blue (Brooklyn’s Finest, starring Richard Gere and Don Cheadle). What do the critics have to say?
At first glace, a Tim Burton adaptation of Alice in Wonderland seems perfectly serendipitous: Hollywood’s most playfully macabre filmmaker would be the obvious choice to reinterpret Lewis Carroll’s darkly whimsical tale. However, critics say the result is curiouser – a film of remarkable visual invention that lacks strong plotting or a sense of wonder. Mia Wasilkowska stars as the titular heroine who heads down the rabbit hole, where she encounters such eccentrics as the goofy-but-somewhat-sinister Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) and the tyrannical Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter). The pundits say Burton’s taste for phantasmagoric images is intact, but he loses track of the narrative, and the film misses the book’s good humor and sense of wide-eyed awe. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Burton’s best-reviewed films, as well as our feature on composer Danny Elfman’s Five Favorite Films.)
With Training Day, Antoine Fuqua brought fresh, gritty energy to the cop drama. Now he’s back on the mean streets with Brooklyn’s Finest and critics say this one is far less — ahem — arresting. Finest follows three cops (Richard Gere, Don Cheadle, and Ethan Hawke) who, over the course of a particularly hectic week, find their personal and professional lives at wit’s end; will they sacrifice their ethics in the line of duty? The pundits say the movie features fine performances in the service of a shopworn script that borrows liberally from dozens of law enforcement flicks without bringing much new to the table.
Also opening this week in limited release: