Combustible Celluloid
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With: Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover, Matt Lucas, Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen, Alan Rickman, Barbara Windsor, Paul Whitehouse, Timothy Spall, Marton Csokas
Written by: Linda Woolverton, based on books by Lewis Carroll
Directed by: Tim Burton
MPAA Rating: PG for fantasy action/violence involving scary images and situations, and for a smoking caterpillar
Running Time: 108
Date: 04/03/2010

Alice in Wonderland (2010)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Grin-Grin Situation

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Tim Burton's 14th feature film and his seventh with Johnny Depp, Alicein Wonderland is not a strict adaptation of the beloved Lewis Carrollnovel of 1865. Rather, it's something like a post-modern tale ofself-discovery, although it works better as a nutty fantasy than asanything with a point.

This Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is 19 and impossible, walking aroundwithout her corset and with dark circles under her eyes (she's one ofBurton's regular Goth blondes). She has recurring dreams and spends mostof her time imagining and fantasizing.

As the story begins, she is pressured to marry the local doofus LordHamish (Leo Bill). When a rabbit in a waistcoat turns up at her would-beengagement party, she follows it. She goes through the familiar "drinkme"/"eat me" process and meets all the familiar characters, includingTweedledee and Tweedledum (Matt Lucas), the Dormouse (voiced by BarbaraWindsor), the March Hare (voiced by Paul Whitehouse), the Cheshire Cat(voiced by Stephen Fry), the Blue Caterpillar (voiced by Alan Rickman),and the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp).

She doesn't recognize any of them, and most of them claim that she'snot the "real Alice." When the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) sends inher troops and captures the Hatter, Alice decides to rescue him. Itturns out that she's destined to fight on the side of the White Queen(Anne Hathaway) and slay the Jabberwocky (envisioned here as a rathertypical dragon).

I guess that's it. It's really an underwhelming story, and it doesn'tparticularly comment on the Wonderland universe, nor does it come tomuch of a coming-of-age for Alice. It actually has quite a bit in commonwith Steven Spielberg's 1991 flop Hook. But Burton's vision is in highgear, and there are some dazzling set pieces, not to mention a pair ofdelightful performances by Depp and Bonham Carter. Some of the effects,including the re-casting of Bonham Carter as a creepy little thing withan enlarged head, are tops.

Timothy Spall and Michael Sheen provide voices, and Crispin Glover(with a digitally elongated body) co-stars as the Red Queen's Knave ofHearts. Disney studio's produced and distributed it, apparently with noconcern over stepping on their original animated Alice in Wonderland(1951).

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