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Alice in Wonderland

Tim Burton's 2010 mounting of Alice in Wonderland is a visually arresting and offbeat re-thinking of Lewis Carroll's classic fairly tale, but more than anything else, a superb technical achievement that combines all the elements of great filmmaking but still comes up short as a great film.

Linda Woolverton's screenplay finds our heroine 13 years after her first trip down the rabbit hole. A child of wealth and privilege, a 19-year old Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is about to be married when a glimpse of the white rabbit easily distracts her to the point where she ends up falling down the hole again. It is then revealed that Alice's return to Wonderland is no accident...she has been brought back to Wonderland to help end the Red Queen's reign of terror.

Tim Burton worked very hard at bringing his unique vision to this classic tale and has employed the finest cinematic technicians in the business to bring this tale to such exuberant life. The film is beautiful to look at...it features extraordinary art direction/set direction, and cinematography. The fairy tale characters are brought to life in various forms. some are actors in intricate costumes and makeup and some are computer generated and the scary part is that sometimes it's actually hard to tell which is which. There is so much to look at here and so much to take in that you almost don't notice that what you're watching is basically a rehash of the fairy tale and not a continuation. Alice's constant references to what is happening to her as being a dream don't really help. There are technical achievements here that must be applauded. There's a surreal moment where Alice approaches the Red Queen's castle and she appears to initially be jumping from rock to rock but they aren't rocks, they are human heads, victims of the Red Queen.

The actual actors in the cast are all first rate, especially Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter and Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen and there's also a surprisingly effective performance from Crispin Glover as the Knave of Hearts . There's some great voice work for some Wonderland characters too, especially Stephen Fry as the Chesire Cat, Alan Rickman as the Blue Caterpillar, and Timothy Spall as a dog named Bayard.

Colleen Atwood's superb costumes are the frosting on the cake in this rehash of a classic fairy tale that pretends to be more original than it really is.