When Alice in Wonderland comes to mind, many immediately reflect on Disney's animated adaptation of the beloved children's books. Others might find it humorous how the books were written by Lewis Carol when he was often high. When Tim Burton comes to mind, many might would say he is one of the more intriguing visual-driven directors to grace Hollywood, or a man of utmost obscurity. So when you place Alice in Wonderland and Tim Burton together, you can expect either a splendid film or a pile of bile. Whatever your feelings about either topic, I'm sure one thing can be certain, things are going to get interesting.
Rather than a remake, Tim Burton's version of Alice's adventures in Wonderland takes place almost thirteen years, with a much older Alice, who has regarded her adventures in Wonderland nothing more than a dream. She is also caught in a curious predicament of being married to a rather snobbish suitor - an engagement pre-arranged - much to her discomfort. But when she spies a white rabbit wearing a coat and watch, she follows it, only to fall into the rabbit hole once more. In the time that has passed, Wonderland has not been much of a wonderful place. Under the iron-fisted rule of the Red Queen, the inhabitants of Wonderland are down-trodden and for the most part miserable. With the arrival of Alice, whom is believed by to be the one capable of slaying the Jabberwocky - a fearful dragon and the Red Queen's symbol of power - the inhabitants urge Alice to save become their champion to overthrow the tyrannic Red Queen once and for all.
Apart from this, the story mirrors several events of the books, although it is presented in a way that is doesn't feel rather stale - but also allows those who are not familiar with the source material some back story. While this eliminates most possibilities to experiment with the material, the performances by the cast (notably that of Mad Hatter Johnny Depp, Cheshire Cat Stephen Fry, and Red Queen Helena Bonham-Carter) makes up for what can be seen a less than original plot and dialogue that is not too sharp.
When it comes to stunning imagery, Tim Burton, being animator for Disney years before directing films, has provided a remarkable spectacle. The CGI is nice to look at, but the way that CGI characters, human actors, and actors that are cleverly enhanced by CGI, is something to marvel at. Though, it is unfortunate that I only was able to see the film in 2D.
The Bottom Line: When it boils down to it, it's pretty much split down the middle how you can receive this Tim Burton film. You might love it. You might downright hate it. But for this reviewer, never has a trip to Wonderland been quite a fun adventure.
The Grade: "B"