This isn’t Alice as you remember her.
Lewis Carroll’s cast of creative characters aren’t sure she’s “the” Alice either.
Heck, Alice isn’t sure she’s Alice. You only know she’s the real Alice because director Tim Burton plopped 3-D glasses on your nose and titled the film.
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And do spend the extra money and see this in three-dimensions.
Linda Woolverton’s (one of the writers of The Lion King) script takes Alice on a new journey based on Carroll’s books and Alice’s dreams. She’s now 19. Pushed to marry a toady, disgusting dweeb, a distracted Alice backs away. The appearance of the White Rabbit sidetracks Alice.
Alice falls into the rabbit hole, goes through getting small and getting tall and enters Wonderland. Her purpose: slay the Jabberwocky and defeat the evil Red Queen.
Alice isn’t sure mortal combat with a Jabberwocky is her thing. But a parchment that predicts the future with drawings that are animated says Alice is Alice and Alice is there to right Wonderland’s wrongs.
Centering Wonderland’s insanity is newcomer Mia Wasikowska. Her Alice has an edge. In glorious 3-D we see her transformed from unsure, awkward teen to a competent, fearless woman managing Johnny Depp’s excellent, cat-eyed Mad Hatter, the madness of the Red and White Queens, the Dormouse, White Rabbit, March Hare, Cheshire Cat and the Caterpillar and ready to kick butt.
A touch of violence and a bit more intensity follow Alice down this rabbit hole. The dialogue is sharp and punchy. Carroll’s characters are now PG and along with Alice, more mature. Alice drops the pinafore for more sexy attire.
Wasikowska holds her acting own with wily Johnny Depp whose cat-eyed Mad Hatter attire and acting is the maddest in Burton’s interpretation of Lewis Carroll’s fascinating multi-dimensional world.
The two queens — Red and White — are Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway. Among the voices for the Dormouse, White Rabbit, March Hare, Cheshire Cat and the Caterpillar are Alan Rickman, Stephen Fry and Michael Sheen.
Burton’s multi-dimensional interpretation of Wonderland is marvelous. These aren’t actors working in front of blue screens with obvious effects dubbed in later. You really are in Wonderland. Real life and CGI are seamless.
Burton also lets his movie breathe. He never lets the effects get in the way of a brilliant rework of Alice’s classic story.
Sequels — and this is a sequel — are never this clever.
Mr. Movie rating: 5 stars
Rated PG for mature themes and some violence. It opens Friday, March 5 at Regal’s Columbia Center 8 and at the Fairchild Cinemas 12.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.