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Alice in Mediocre-land

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Published: Sun, March 7, 2010 @ 6:31 p.m.

Alice in Wonderland

From Walt Disney Pictures and visionary director Tim Burton comes an epic fantasy adventure, a magical and imaginative twist on some of the most beloved stories of all time. Johnny Depp stars as the Mad Hatter and Mia Wasikowska as 19-year-old Alice, who returns to the whimsical world she first encountered as a young girl, reuniting with her childhood friends: the White Rabbit, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, the Dormouse, the Caterpillar, the Cheshire Cat, and of course, the Mad Hatter. Alice embarks on a fantastical journey to find her true destiny and end the Red Queen's reign of terror. The all-star cast also includes Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Michael Sheen, and Crispin Glover. Plays in 3D at select cinemas.

Showtimes and more on Alice in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" has had many forms. Among my favorites were "Adventures in Wonderland," which I only got to see when the Disney channel offered the free weekend previews, and Disney's animated "Alice in Wonderland."

Unfortunately, Disney's latest effort won't go down as one of my favorites.

Having seen "Avatar" in a regular movie theater, I wanted to make certain I saw Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland" in 3-D for this review. I wouldn't have missed anything seeing in in 2-D.

But in "Alice in Wonderland," the 3-D effects, seemed sloppy and hastily made. A tragedy, considering reports that indicate the film had $200 million behind its production.

That's not to say there weren't great points in the 2010 "Alice in Wonderland" release.

Mia Wasikowska as Alice was brilliant casting. She handles the character great in its many forms and absolutely looks the part.

The dresses managed to emulate 19th Century and haute couture fashion. Alice's first dress in the Red Queen's castle belongs in a K$sha music video. And I can't wait for Halloween to see what local, crafty girls can come up with to copy some of Alice's signature blue dresses.

Johnny Depp's Mad Hatter costume was right-on and the hats "he created" were absolutely fabulous, even if he did end up looking like he spent too long at the department store cosmetics counter. In "Alice in Wonderland," Depp ends up looking pathetic, not "Mad."

It was the way the relationship between Alice and Mad Hatter that gets excessively creepy. There's nothing like turning a whimsical literary classic beloved by many into a "To Catch a Predator" fantasy.

I'm not a Depp hater. He's had some great roles. "Pirates of the Caribbean" was good, I'll admit that I like "Edward Scissorhands" and "Blow" was a great film. But "Alice in Wonderland" certainly isn't one of Depp's best roles. It's way too over the top, to the point of silliness, and the much-talked about "futterwacken" set to modern music ruins the end.

"Alice in Wonderland" special effects covered the spectrum of adjectives. Some digital treatments worked really well, including Helena Boham Carter as the Red Queen, with her unexplained big head. The White Rabbit was eerily realistic and the Chesire Cat had some really cool moments.

The Jabberwocky, when finally seen, is also a noteworthy aspect of "Alice in Wonderland," as is most of the climatic end.

Literary purists will scoff at this production, as is bends and mangles the book's plot, even basing most of it on "Through the Looking Glass." It also tries overly hard to become a cult classic and stoner staple, which is good, since it's destined to run way too many times on TNT. (Isn't that where you saw many Burton/Depp flicks, anyway?)

While "Sleepy Hollow" was palatable, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" was an abomination of the the 1971 film with Gene Wilder. If Burton and Depp are really committed to ruining my childhood classics, I'd like to offer these options: "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" by Judith Vorst, "Fraggle Rock" or "Shadetree Mechanics."

OK, "Shadetree Mechanics" wasn't a kids show, but I certainly watched a lot of it when I was a child.

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