Alice in Wonderland is exactly what one would imagine a Tim-Burton directed adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s novel to be – tons of menacing, slightly grotesque creatures, an ethereal-yet-tough female protagonist, and Johnny Depp as a supposedly delightful weirdo. As such, Burton’s latest re-emphasizes the nagging impression that the director is stuck in a creative rut, making pictures that are a tad too well-suited for his idiosyncratic style and, thus, feel dispiritingly ordinary. Burton strays from his source material by advancing his Alice’s (Mia Wasikowska) age to 19 and transforming her trip to Wonderland (or, as its denizens call it, Underworld) into a return visit, one in which she must fulfill her destiny as a Jabberwocky slayer. Alice falls down the rabbit hole after fleeing a public marriage proposal by a repugnant aristocrat, thereby making her adventure about female self-actualization and empowerment, a twist that might have worked if Alice’s real-world feminist stance had any metaphoric relationship to her surreal Wonderland exploits. Alas, aside from a few stray Wizard of Oz-ish parallels (her future mother-in-law is positioned as a virtual Red Queen), Alice never convincingly melds its two realities into complementary images of the same whole, thereby diffusing the story’s thematic potency. This shortcoming is a shame given that, aside from Burton’s gift for spiraling imagery and Helena Bonham Carter’s performance as the petulant, giant-headed Red Queen, there’s not much to visually admire about the proceedings, which are doused in outlandish CG effects that rarely astonish. 3D doesn’t help matters, the greater distance between foreground Alice and digitized backgrounds merely calling attention to the green-screen work at play. And neither, ultimately, does Depp, who as the Mad Hatter – re-imagined as a tedious Alice sidekick whose insanity is the result of post-traumatic stress – once again succumbs to mannered goof-offery that takes the now-standard, ho-hum form of wearing clown make-up, speaking in a funny accent, and acting foppish.