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Alice in Wonderland (PG)

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Review byMatthew Turner03/03/2010

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 108 mins

Tim Burton's eagerly-awaited adaptation of Alice in Wonderland is gorgeous to look at and features strong performances, superb character designs and impressive effects but it's badly let down by some pointless changes and a disappointing script that fails to bring the story to life.

What's it all about?
Directed by Tim Burton, this latest version of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland positions itself as a sequel of sorts, with 19-year-old Alice (Mia Wasikowska, looking uncannily like Gwyneth Paltrow) running away from a public proposal by an unsuitable suitor (Leo Bill), falling down a rabbit hole and winding up in Wonderland once again, only with no memory of her previous visit some 15 years earlier. She duly re-encounters all her old friends - including the Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry), the Caterpillar (Alan Rickman), the Dormouse (Barbara Windsor) and the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) – and discovers that she has to kill the fearsome Jabberwock (Christopher Lee) in order to dethrone the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) and restore the White Queen (Anne Hathaway) as Wonderland's rightful ruler.

The Good
The film is utterly gorgeous to look at and Burton ensures that every frame is packed with minute details that will presumably reward multiple viewings on DVD. In addition, the 3D effects are used well, with a nice combination of Avatar-style enhanced environments and gimmicky things-flying-towards-you moments, while the character designs are extremely impressive (particularly the Red Queen and the Cheshire Cat) and look exactly as you'd expect Wonderland characters reimagined by Tim Burton to look.

The performances are generally excellent. Wasikowska acquits herself well, Bonham Carter rips off Miranda Richardson's Queenie (Blackadder II) to amusing effect, while Rickman and Fry are both superb and whoever came up with the inspired casting of Barbara Windsor as the Dormouse deserves some sort of medal.

The Bad
That said, Depp is over-indulged as the Mad Hatter (the excruciating dance routine should have been cut) and several of the changes (renaming Wonderland Underland, for example) seem completely pointless and don't work at all. On top of that, the script is frequently dull and fails to wring any emotional resonance out of its biggest change - the fact that Alice is returning as an adult.

Worth seeing?
Alice in Wonderland is something of a mixed bag – it's worth seeing for the effects and performances but it's badly let down by a very disappointing script.

Film Trailer

Alice in Wonderland (PG)
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