The complete discussion after the jump.
In this movie, Alice is 19 years old and has returned to Wonderland even though she doesn't remember her earlier visits (I'm not sure they ever say why). This allows Burton to incorporate many of the fan favorite moments from the original tales. And unlike earlier versions, Burton shows us that Alice herself is a "little off" herself--a free thinking outsider in the otherwise stuffy Victorian society. When forced with a decision that could force her to stop her dreaming and join normalcy, she retreats down the rabbit hole and enters Underland.
Alice is played by Mia Wasikowskan and does a very good job finding the right combination of strength and innocence. (I was also amazed to see just how physically demanding the role of Alice was.) The only thing missing is that sense of curiosity that permeates the original Alice stories. I thought Alice accepted the weirdness a little too quickly.
Of course, Johnny Depp shines with resplendent weirdness as The Mad Hatter. Depp actually downplays the madness this time and even displays heroic moments of sanity. (He also has a dark origin for his madness). I couldn't understand half of Depp's dialogue. I'm not sure if it was because of his scottish accent or because some of the words themselves were gibberish.
Burton also combines two characters from the Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass to create the main villianess, The Red Queen (played by Helena Bonham Carter.) The Red Queen is a little brat with an over sized head who is constantly saying "off with your head." (We also find out where those heads go).
Anne Hathaway stars as the White Queen, the Red Queen's nemesis. Hathaway's great performance shows that there is also a hint of madness beneath the white Queen's angelic demeanor.
The cast is rounded out with Crispin glover as The Knave of Hearts; Stephen Fry as The Cheshire Cat, Matt Lucas in the dual roles of Tweedledee and Tweedledum, Alan Rickman as The Caterpillar, Michael Sheen as The White Rabbit, Barbara Windsor as The Dormouse, and sci fi fans will immediately recognize the voice of Christopher Lee as The Jabberwocky.
I should also mention that Danny Elfman's score is one of his best. It is dark but adventurous and really fits in with the world Burton has created.
I liked the movie. Although, I wonder if 3D was the right choice. Since, Wonderland is such a bright and beautiful place and Disney Digital 3D tends to mute the colors. (I felt the same way about Pixar's Up). I also wasn't crazy about the end of the film and thought he came out of nowhere.
Burton's Alice is an escape. The movie provides a fun, weird, and magical world. It's not a great movie, but it is a good way to spend an afternoon.
I can't believe I got through this whole thing without telling you to "go ask Alice when she's eight feet tall." :-)