A few weeks ago, 3/5 of my family saw this film for the first time thanks to Blockbuster, as the other 2/5 had already seen it in theaters.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
Tim Burton, known for his wacky films like "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (yes, I know it should be in italics) and "Big Fish", at first seems to be made to bring Lewis Carrol's film to the big screen. Instead of sticking to the original material, Burton creates a new and independent story where the original events occurred before the movie begins. Several years have passed, and Alice has grown up into an independently-minded young woman who hates popular society but does not feel she can get out of an arranged marriage. While at her engagement party, she sees a white rabbit running around and follows it down the hole. The viewer soon learns that Alice has been in Wonderland before as a child but that she has virtually no memory of it, believing it to have been a bad dream. Upon her arrival, Alice discovers that Wonderland is being ruled by the bad-tempered Red Queen, whose pet jabberwocky is wrecking havoc on the kingdom, and that it is only she who can kill the jabberwocky and restore the rightful ruler the White Queen to the throne. Alice denies that she can do this, but she goes on a quest to find the needed sword and help her new friends.
On the one hand, I can understand why Burton wanted to give the story a plot because the original lacks a definitive one, but on the other hand it comes across as silly and unoriginal. While watching the movie, I kept thinking of "Chronicles of Narnia": child goes to other world, discovers is object of prophecy but refuses to believe it, then goes on a journey of self-discovery and ends up fulfilling its destiny then returning home to find that normal life can be conquered after all. This, I thought, was a very modern-fied version of Carrol's classic story and did not flow smoothly with it. Not only that, but several elements such as the White Queen and the jabberwocky were not even from the original story but were from other works of Carrol's, and so they really did not fit into the general scheme of things. The characters were not well-done either. Far from being the curious child, Alice has turned into an independent woman, the stereotypical girl not sure what to do who later decides to do things her own way. The rest of the characters are nothing really memorable, and even Johnny Depp's performance as the Mad Hatter wasn't as good as his other roles such as Captain Jack Sparrow or Willy Wonka; plus, the whole implied relationship between Alice and the Hatter was a bit weird.
The movie wasn't that bad, but it wasn't great either. It was worth it for one watch but not to see over and over again.