It may be a delusional assertion, but I've never been so underwhelmed by the buildup to a theatrical release (well, excluding Sex and the City, but that was no shock. I had genuine faith in this Burton/Disney collaboration). Alice in Wonderland, whether in 3D or not, was a dim reminder of Tim Burton's abilities. I did like Bayard the talking bloodhound though. In fact, I don't think people realize it, but that might be why a great many moviegoers are coerced into being so taken by this film: Everyone's a pushover for the wide-eyed look of a dog that can speak English, not to mention the added bonus of Johnny Depp in drag.

Writer Linda Woolverton can be credited with most of the originality of the film in her take on Lewis Carroll's storybook version of Alice in Wonderland, called "What Alice Found There," combining it with some of the premises of Disney's 1951 animated version. But even a decent script can fall by the wayside if all of the emphasis is on the visual; this makes what sparse dialogue there is highly vulnerable to judgment. I think the only non-banal line that was delivered came from the mouth of Crispin Glover (who else could be trusted with such a purpose?) when he said to Alice in giant form, "I like your largeness."

Even though the audience knows going in that this is going to be Tim Burton's rendering of a time-honored, classic story, it is heinously lacking some of the best elements, one of them being the white rabbit screaming, "I'm late, I'm late for a very important date!" or the Queen of Hearts pitching a fit about someone painting her roses red. Or even the walrus and his clam family. Everything is merely a subtle reference or an inconsequential nod to the precendents set by the original story (though the inclusion of the jabberwocky was a pretty badass move). Not to say that Lewis Caroll's psychedelic ranting is worthy of bible-level reverence, but there should be some amount of more highly attuned compliance to this dearly departed, drug-addled literary figure.

Another item to consider is the timing of this film's release. The entire plot is centered around ending the reign of an evil and depraved ruler. It would have been nice if this could have coincided with the Bush years. Obama hasn't quite yet reached this level of odium yet. At least not until after the final resolution for health care. It just would have given the movie a layer of depth that is appreciably missing underneath the five hundred coats of makeup on the combined faces of Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and Anne Hathaway. There's also the contradictory message of saying "All the best people are mad" and then turning around and condemning the Red Queen for her diabolical eccentricity. Why Tim, are you a secret advocate of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?