“You’re the wrong Alice!” exclaim the Dormouse, Tweedledum, Tweedledee and many other characters in Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland,” convinced this 19-year-old girl who fell into a dizzying hole while chasing a White Rabbit is not the same Alice that came to Wonderland 13 years ago. Unintentionally, they are also reinforcing that this ain’t your grandaddy’s “Alice.”

“Alice in Wonderland”

At Quality 16 and Showcase
Walt Disney Pictures

No, this is a corporatized, formulaic, “let’s try to sell as many t-shirts at Hot Topic as we can” version of “Alice in Wonderland.”

For generations, Lewis Carroll’s 1865 novel has spanned across all age groups; it has enchanted children with its goofy character creations and the teacup ride at Disney World, connected with adults who can appreciate the witticisms and subtexts and inspired hippies with its psychedelic undertones (see “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane).

Accordingly, the visionary mind of Tim Burton was the ideal creative force to take the reigns of a new tale set in Wonderland, having already dreamed up the marvelous mechanisms of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory and the chilling woodlands of Sleepy Hollow to enormous success.

With “Alice,” the seventh collaboration for Burton and his apparent muse Johnny Depp (“Sweeney Todd”), the director’s genius is at full force. His visualization of Carroll’s world is unsurprisingly stunning, creating a once-vibrant mystical realm now overrun with murk and gloom. But other than the dazzling art direction, some inspired character creations and the occasional black comedy, there’s not much here for the over-18 crowd.

As mentioned, this “Alice” is a continuation of the original story. Alice (Mia Wasikowska, “Amelia”) is all grown up and being pressured into marriage by her mother and high society. But destiny calls, and she is drawn back to Wonderland to help topple the murderous regime of the large-noggined Red Queen (Helena Bonham Cater, “Sweeney Todd”).

This doesn’t sound like Carroll’s original story, which followed Alice through the quips and riddles of the peculiar inhabitants of Wonderland. The problem isn’t merely that the focus has changed, it’s that it has changed into a teen fantasy retread where a rebellious protagonist gathers friends, evades foes and finds the almighty weapon, culminating in a climactic battle.

The friends include all the famous faces — the philosophizing, hookah-puffing caterpillar (Alan Rickman, “Harry Potter”), Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry, “V for Vendetta”) and the Mad Hatter. Why has the Mad Hatter — a character whose insanity is branded in his name — transformed into a valiant-but-vulnerable hero? Because he’s played by Johnny Depp, and tickets must be sold! Depp brings out his surefire charisma, putting on his trademarked Crazy Face and setting a new record for most nonsensical phrases in a single scene. It’s understandable to give depth to a typically secondary character, but since the character is elevated to such a substantial role and is on the forefront of every poster, the film might as well be called “Mad Hatter’s Acid Trip in Wonderland.”

Burton deserves a lot of respect for incorporating his distinctive macabre humor — eye gouging, decapitated heads and many threats of execution — into such a family-friendly corporate cash cow. But it’s painful to see his vision relegated to a film so obviously targeted toward the hoards of teen “Twilight” worshippers.

Indeed, this is the “wrong Alice,” as the cross-generational appeal of Carroll’s timeless classic has faded. Still, “Alice” is worth watching, due to the Burton’s natural brilliance, the hilarity of the March Hare (who tweaks like a crack addict) and the best boogie-down denouement since “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” But make sure you book it for the exits before the scourge of Avril Lavigne has a chance to liquefy your eardrums with her abominable end-credits song.

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