PG, 1 hr. 49 min. Directed by: Tim Burton. Release Date: Mar 05, 2010. DVD Release Date: Jun 01, 2010.
****REPOSTED FROM THE LATE LATE SHOW WITH NEW COMMENTS AND EDITS****
Helena Bonham Carter steals the show as the piece's villain, the Red Queen; this was a masterwork of reinvention. We've seen the Red Queen several times over the years, and generally, we see her as a woman who is eaten apart by her rage. This Red Queen was just a bit insane, and I found the approach appealing. Also fortunate is that Ms. Bonham Carter spends a lot of time on-camera, which has been an unusual thing in the last year of big-cast movies like Alice.
The set design is outstanding, and for me was the single best thing about this movie; a trait which it shares with only Dick Tracy, and for the same reason (the limited color scheme). It should be noted that I saw this 2D, and think everything I saw would have been more amazing in 3D or IMAX. I have to say that the reimaging Disney and Burton went with here was good. Everything from the set to the costuming felt modern and a bit… off-kilter, which fits in nicely with the spirit of Carroll's original works, even if the message was been somewhat overcome by events. What I particularly like is that this doesn't seem to be such a traditional Burton work. It has dark, edgy moments, but it has bright and cheerful ones as well. If it wasn't for the appearance of both Bonham Carter and Depp, I might have missed that Burton was responsible for this.
The creative license here was nice, but I did enjoy how subtle nuances from Disney's animated version of this film made it through the final editing process. The dragonflies and rocking horseflies were amazing bits of creature features, although not quite up to the Avatar bar.
My only complaint is Johnny Depp's portrayal of the Mad Hatter. The insanity was there, but I found the character way too similar to Willy Wonka and Captain Jack Sparrow. But, you know, I have that complaint about Depp's ever-increasing waves of strange, effeminate roles; making for an off-putting, but not un-enjoyable situation.