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ecksmanfan reviews Alice in Wonderland

How does Alice stand up against the likes of Batman and a Big Fish?
Tim Burton has a history of providing some of the most entertaining and unique films to hit the big screen. He has created a style all his own which is easily recognizable. With such films as "A Nightmare Before Christmas" and "Big Fish," even the 1989 version of "Batman," he cemented his status as an A-List director. However, not everything he touches is automatic gold, take a look at "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." So where does Alice fit in? As much as I wanted this to be one of his better films, it falls short just a tad. It is still an interesting and fun film to watch, but the story tends to drag and the lack of a peak just holds this film back.

I need to get this off my chest first: the Tim Burton clique needs to go its separate ways. The main duo of Depp and Carter, as good as they are, has lost it magic and things are starting to run together. With the exception of Hathaway, all the major players in this film have played a role in at least two or three of Burton's film. This tends to make the originality of the group dissipate. Don't get me wrong, they are all incredible actors, but I think it's time.

On to the story. The film is actually not a retelling of the 1951 Disney cartoon of the same name, but more of a sequel, so be prepared for that. After Alice escapes the watching eye of a throng of family and friends, she falls into a rabbit hole. Sound familiar? This is one of several nods to the original film, but, aside from those, this is very different. All the characters have returned, as well as some new ones. As I mentioned earlier, the film is paced rather slow and the few actions scenes that are included, are rather anti-climatic, but it is enough to make it entertaining. There is a rather cliched battle towards the end that felt as though I were watching another film from the Chronicles of Narnia series, but it too has its moments.

The best part of the film were the supporting characters/actors; in fact, several of them actually stole the show. Stephen Fry as Cheshire Cat, Alan Rickman as Alumbum (I think that's his name) and Paul Whitehouse as the March Hare were fantastic. Without a doubt, anytime they were on screen, they stole it, quite easily. There is a lot of talk of Carter upstaging Depp, who is know for his scene stealing. Quite frankly, neither one of them gave a unique performance. When you could understand what "The Hatter" was saying, Depp, was decent and Carter, as the Red Queen was rather obnoxious and overbearing at times. It seemed as though you could replace these to roles with any other role the actors have played in a Burton film and you wouldn't be able to tell the difference. The real disappointment here was Wasikowski as Alice. Her performance was dry and one dimensional and lacked any emotion or depth.

Needless to say, the film is quite stunning to watch, as Burton doesn't hold back with his set designs and CGI work. All of the bright colors and quirky designs, the standard for just about any Burton film, were top notch. CGI in a movie should always be as seamless as possible, to the point that if you notice it, they failed, even in a film that is laden with CGI work like this. They achieved that goal here.

As a whole, if you keep your expectations to a minimum and keep in mind that this isn't Burton's best film, you should enjoy it. It's a fun family film that will make you laugh and with the many nods to the original film, parents who remember the original Disney film will enjoy it as well. I'd check this one out in the theater, just to get the full effect of the CGI work.

Grade: B-
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