Director Tim Burton steps aside and just produces this sequel to his imaginative take on "Alice In Wonderland". While new director, James Bobin does a credible job, the films sorely lacks Mr. Burton's macabre sensibility and humor.
Mia Wasikowska returns as Alice and is joined again by Johnny Depp as The Mad Hatter, Ann Hathaway as The White Queen, and Helena Bonham Carter as The Red Queen. The vocal talents of Alan Rickman, Stephen Fry, Timothy Spall, and Michael Sheen also return as the various CGI characters of Wonderland. Joining the cast for this sequel is Sacha Baron Cohen as the human/machine hybrid, Time.
The plot has very little in common with the original story. Instead, Alice returns to Wonderland to help the Mad Hatter, who has grown despondent and physically ill after discovering his family may all still be alive but with whereabouts unknown. Alice must borrow the Chronosphere, a device which powers time itself to help the Hatter. Time, of course can't exist without the device making it very dangerous for Alice to use it.
Far removed from the original plot, the story builds up the character of Time and Mr. Baron Cohen is very good in the role but it diminishes Mr. Depp's role as The Mad Hatter, who ends up with little to do. It's really a waste of Mr. Depp's talent and instead gives Mr. Baron Cohen a chance to really shine. Ms. Wasikowska is a stalwart Alice and a role model for pre-teen girls everywhere. Ms. Hathaway has little to do as The White Queen. Ms. Bonham Carter as the crazy and villainous, Red Queen chews up the scenery.
Visually the film is a kaleidoscope of color and movement. The CGI work is excellent but unfortunately even the colorful characters of Wonderland, (Cheshire Cat, White Rabbit etc...) are given a back seat to the main plot. It's a good concept but it belongs in a different film. Time, his seconds, his grand clock and castle are amazing but it's not a Wonderland story. It bogs down in dreary details but does pick up enough for an exciting climax.
If Alice ever decides to return to Wonderland, I hope the studio decides to keep the story about Wonderland and all it's outrageous characters. Don't mess with the Classics.