Johnny Depp in Alice in WonderlandTim Burton's live-action take on Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland has finally arrived with Mia Wasikowska as a nineteen-year-old Alice, Helena Bonham Carter as the diminutive, treacherous Red Queen, Anne Hathaway as the rival White Queen, and Johnny Depp's orange-haired Mad Hatter bouncing manically in between them.

Find out what we thought of the film after the jump... span style="font-weight: bold;">Johnny Depp in Alice in WonderlandAlice In Wonderland (PG)

Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway
Director: Tim Burton
Film length: 105 minutes
Trailer: Watch it here

In a nutshell: For a while it looked as if all the big multiplex chains would boycott Alice In Wonderland over a too-early DVD release date, but Disney's $200million-plus 3D event movie arrives today in a full saturation release. Lewis Carroll's books have been tweaked to age up Alice (Wasikowska), now a feisty Victorian-era 19-year-old who escapes an arranged marriage by returning through a rabbit hole to the strange land she visited a decade or so earlier. There, she provides hope to the oppressed creatures that live in fear of the capricious Red Queen (Bonham Carter). Legend has foretold that a saviour will wield a sword, slay the Queen's pet dragon Jabberwock, and bring salvation to Underland.

What's good about it? It's no surprise that the director of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory has pulled out all the stops to create a highly imaginative universe you'll want to spend an hour and a half in, and Burton also has a lot of fun with CGI characters such as the grinning, dissolving Cheshire Cat (voice of Stephen Fry). With this material it's a given that the story is mainly a series of surreal episodes, but Burton keeps the delight factor on a high setting, and also manages to craft just enough of a narrative arc to hold it all together. Bonham Carter, channelling Miranda Richardson's petulant Blackadder tyrant, is a wonderful villain, and Depp is appropriately Depp-like as the Mad Hatter.

What's not so good? It's a charge that's been levelled at Burton before, but it bears repeating in this instance: there's not a lot to care about. The character of Alice is thinly written, and you'd need the most charismatic actress in the world to pull you into her journey; Australian Wasikowska looks the part, and delivers ample portions of ambiguous poise, but little in the way of emotional access.

Verdict: Burton's first 3D movie is certainly entertaining enough to deliver the blockbuster back-office that's likely to accrue. It's by turns dazzling and delightful and cute and funny. But to this question, we don't really have an answer: how does it make you feel?

Rating: 7 out of 10
categories Reviews