It's been 12 years since little Alice tumbled down the rabbit hole and lived the story many of us know and love, yet ever since that day she has been having terrible nightmares of the preceding events in Wonderland. Now, 19 years old and at her own "surprise" engagement party, she spots the white rabbit again, and in a moment of overwhelming pre-marriage stress, decides to run after him. She ends up tumbling down the rabbit hole again, but this time, things in Wonderland are very different.
The Red Queen has taken over Underland, and is using the Bandersnatch, the Jubjub Bird, and the Jabberwocky as her own personal weapons - to keep her reign strong. In a psuedo-case of mistaken identity Alice is told that she is the one that must find the Vorpal Sword, and kill the Jabberwoky. She does not believe she can kill any living creature, so she and her new old friends, the Tweedels (Dee & Dum), the Mad Hatter, and the Doormouse, set out to find the new champion of Underland... or something like that.
While all the acting in the film is excellent and every actor does a proper justice to their character(s), the main achievements of what makes this film so wonderful are the new story and the exploration of the wonderful Underland (Wonderland). Anyone who goes back to the books can see that the two "Alice" books never really had much of a plot. Each was about a girl who goes into a new world and just walks around, while meeting new crazy people. And while one can argue the depth of the story elements and the writing (which is something I very much appreciate, none of that really translates to Cinema, which might just be the reason the previous film incarnations always felt so dry.
But here, Tim Burton and screenwriter Linda Woolverton (Beauty and the Beast), successfully display the whole world of Wonderland, while creating a new, and very creative story. The writing and pacing strongly echos the original source material, all the while demonstrating how "mad" everyone (including Wonderland) is. The only problem I had was the last 7 or so minutes of the film (after the climax) where everything just becomes too straight forward - by which I mean almost to an obnoxious degree. Not everything in both worlds needed to be resolved, and that should have been realized at some point. Thankfully, the amount of power this film wields up to that point is so solid, that mishap does not ruin the film.
Nice job Mr. Burton. I fully enjoyed this film, and hope to see many more of this caliber created by you soon.