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Author: Bill Ramey
March 5, 2010

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OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS: A grown up Alice returns to Wonderland, where she reunites with her old friends and learns of her true destiny.
DIRECTED BY: Tim Burton
WRITTEN BY: Linda Wolverton
CAST: Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway
OFFICIAL SITE: Disney's AIW Site

Yes, I HATE BATMAN RETURNS.

I flat-out despise that film and will take a shot at it just about every chance I get here on BOF -- that's how I roll.

Consequently, many readers assume that I dislike director Tim Burton. For the record (AGAIN!), I’m actually a fan of Mr. Burton’s and have enjoyed many of his films (PEE-WEE's BIG ADVENTURE, BIG FISH, BEETLE JUICE, BATMAN, CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, SLEEPY HOLLOW -- love 'em).

BATMAN RETURNS? HATE it.

Look, I’m certainly not a film guru or expert -- I’m just a guy that likes movies. So when I review ‘em, I don’t attempt to analyze them to the nth degree and show everyone how film-smart I am. I either like a movie or I don’t and I try to do my best to tell you why either way. Like this ALICE IN WONDERLAND directed by the aforementioned Tim Burton…

Meh.

I’ve never read the source material, I’ll admit that. What I know about Alice and company mainly comes from the 1951 animated film from Disney. While this new version is also from Disney, it bares little resemblance to the studio’s previous animated incarnation.

What it does resemble is a “Tim Burton Film.” Like I said, I like several of Burton’s films, but aren’t they all very similar? Yeah, different story (well, sorta) and characters, but they’ve all got basically the same theme. You know, the awkward and misunderstood loner/outsider amidst an assortment of bizarre -- and usually more interesting -- characters.

Really, it’s to the point now with Burton that you know exactly what you’re going to get, right?

In Burton’s AIW, Alice (Mia Wasikowska) returns to Wonderland a grown woman who is running away from arranged nuptials to a man she doesn’t much care about. Once there, she meets up with all of her old friends -- such as Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter -- and discovers that she’s the only one that can save Wonderland (called “Underland” here for some unknown reason) from the evil clutches of The Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter).

And that’s about it, really. All this film appears to be is a series of goofy and nonsensical “Burton-esque” episodes that reek of spectacle over substance. Granted, the film looks fantastic and the special effects are topnotch, but so what? Plus, the 3D -- while cool -- comes off as an unneeded gimmick.

I’m most disappointed with Johnny Depp -- who just happens to be one of my favorite actors. I think this cat is one of the best thesps working today. Love this guy…but it looks as if dude just mailed this one in. It’s as if he was simply hired to be “Johnny Depp in a Tim Burton film” and that’s exactly what he put into this endeavor.

Come on JD, you’re MUCH better than this!

Frankly, Burton’s ALICE IN WONDERLAND reminds me a lot of that BATMAN RETURNS he gave us almost 20 years ago. You take classic literary characters (Batman/Alice), give ‘em the “Burton Treatment, and voila -- awesomeness!

Uh, no. Anyway…

All is not lost actually, as I suspect kids will enjoy the heck out of ALICE IN WONDERLAND. So if you’ve got ’em like I do, don’t hesitate in taking them to see it -- they’ll probably love it and have a good time. Unlike it’s demented cousin BATMAN RETURNS, it’s very kid-friendly -- the PG rating is legit and not a gift to Disney by the MPAA. Trust me, Disney wants you to bring the kids to this one (*cough* merchandise *cough*).

Plus, there’s not a drop of black goo to be found anywhere in Underland...

GRADE: C-

Bill Ramey is the founder of BATMAN ON FILM.

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