Tim Burton dislikes Lewis Carroll's vision.
Alice In Wonderland is a testament to the fact that Tim Burton and his cohort Linda Woolverton do not care for, or have any respect for, the source material they have based their film on. They're not interested in the original vision beyond the most superficial level. We see an older Alice return to her old haunts and meet up with old friends - only, she doesn't remember anything.
Which is fun for no one because we know she's been to Wonderland, the characters know she's been to Wonderland. Only she has no clue about what's happening to her, and then when she realises what's been happening, it is set up as a big reveal. For whom, exactly? What Burton has tried to do is make a reboot of a franchise - only, there was never a franchise; there was a beloved children's classic, which he thought didn't suit his purposes.
Anyone who has any regard for the books will find themselves completely baffled as Alice and The Mad Hatter are thrown into a heroic fantasy film, completing the reluctant hero and the wise mentor archetypes. There are epic sweeping battles that Alice fights, as she decides the fate of the worlds. This is wrong on so many levels. Good luck explaining to your children why The Mad Hatter is in a sword fight.
If you have never read the books (reason most likely being you live under a rock) or are willing to accept that Alice needs to be in a Narnia
-like (the films, not the books; same problem) action adventure, it is still awful to watch. Plodding and inert, the film lacks any wit or fun, and slowly but surely outruns your patience.
It looks horrible - the character design and the set design try to evoke a fairytale utopia gone to hell, but all it reminds you of are better fantasy films like The Lord of The Rings
. This is not just a lame comparison by the way - the entire third act seems to have been lifted from the fight at Mordor.
Even more tiresome is the cast - Mia Wasikowska looks beautiful as the 20-year-old Alice, but is completely devoid of any charm or charisma. She is a boring husk of an actress who saps all energy around her. Anne Hathaway does not even pretend she is in a film - she simply says her lines flatly and gets out. Helena Bonham Carter will test your endurance for screechy noises, but at least she's fun till the decibel level becomes unbearable. Alan Rickman (voice only, thankfully) can do no wrong, so let's just say he doesn't and move on.
The real culprit in the acting department is Johnny Depp. This is probably his worst film ever, and he has suitably given probably his worst performance ever. Tasked with carrying the film on his shoulders, he at once throws a Scot accent, a dithering lisp and a heroic mannerism in the hopes that something sticks. His loopiness is forced and painful, and his fake enthusiasm apparent for what it is - fake.
The 3D, as is true for all films not shot stereoscopically, is junk. Tim Burton never shot his film to be converted later, and it shows in the design. The film is shot like a painting - 2-dimensional and flat - and there is not depth to the 3D. In regular speak - you don't know it's there. At least the CGI is good - the loopy character design is brought to insane life and made to feel real, with suitable heft and personality.
Shame, I can't say likewise about the film. A boring and plain dull movie that isn't even so bad that it could be the worst thing you watched all year (which would automatically make it the highlight at a Diwali dinner conversation), Alice in Wonderland is something that is unwatchable for all, regardless of their stance on the original books.