As he had shown with his reinterpretation of **Planet of the Apes** and **Sleepy Hallow,** Tim Burton takes an author's words and characters, but weaves his own plot and narrative. Burton's **Alice** (Mia Wasikowska) is not a prepubescent girl, but a 19 year old woman who must confront her past in order to control her future. Based on two of Lewis Carroll's "Alice" novels, this movie is a sequel to Alice's earlier adventures in Wonderland, now called Underland.
Apparently, Alice had visited Underland during a happier time. In the years that Alice had been away, the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) has ruled Underland with intimidation and fear. ""Off with their heads!," is the Red Queen's policy for her judicial restraint. If head chopping is not enough, then Stayne-Knave of Hearts (Crispin Glover) can unleash the Jabberwocky (voiced by Sir Christopher Lee) upon the Underland dwellers.
Like King Arthur finding Excalibur and returning to Camelot, Alice's return to Underland had the same effect upon the depressed Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), the White Rabbit (Michael Sheen) and Bayard the dog (Timothy Spall). These characters form an alliance with the White Queen (Anne Hathaway) and declare war with the Red Queen.
The actors try, but are overwhelmed by Hollywood narrative formula.. One now takes the madness of Johnny Depp for granted, there is nothing fresh about this Mad Hatter. Christopher Lee voices the Japperwock, a character this is given the longest introduction of screen time, but with less on screen time. Anne Hathaway reprises her spacey princess act as the White Queen.
Helena Bonham Carter steals the show as the Red Queen. Even with the outrageous special effects, Bonham Carter completes a complete quirky character, a mixture of tyrant and victim from a Scott Rothstein Ponzi scheme.She won't be, but Helena Bonham Carter's performance should be considered for a best supporting actress award.
Given today's political climate, Lewis Carroll's books can be found on the shelves and they are worth a look for timely social criticism of political leaders drunk with power. Also on Youtube, one can find the 1933 version of **Alice in Wonderland** starring Charlotte Henry as Alice, with Cary Cooper, Cary Grant and W.C. Fields in unrecognizable cameos as Lewis Carroll's favorite character. For those seeking an afternoon visual treat for older children (age 9+), then **Alice in Wonderland in IMAX 3 D** will hold their interest.
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