Whatever the producers spent on "Alice in Wonderland" - it's all right up there on the widescreen in glorious color and rife with animation techniques that are state-of-the-art - dazzling excited filmgoers by the calculated second.
The much-anticpated Tim Burton flick does not disappoint for the most part.
In fact, the exquisite special effects make "Alice" a must-see fantasy.
Curiously, Johnny Depp falls short, amid a cast of actors that have excelled in characterizations which push the envelope to the max without going over-the-top or taking away from the film's natural ebb and flow which undulates without much wobbling (admirably).
Of course, Tim Burton's visual feast is an adaptation of the celebrated children's book by Lewis Carroll, "Alice in Wonderland".
True to form, Burton sets up the storyline with a minimum amount of fuss, and within minutes, the rapt audience is swept up into a breathtaking other-world deep beneath the earth's crust.
Alice, a bit emotional and pensive about a pending engagement, dashes off to think her thoughts - when she unexpectedly tumbles down a hole - and ends up in a realm (that in its own context) appears to be so much more than one of make-believe.
Within moments of getting her bearings in the subterranean dream-like world, a posse of resident descend on her with a desperate plea to rise up and meet her alleged destiny.
According to history, Alice (a human girl) will slay the Queen's favorite pet dragon - and ultimately - set the townsfolk free of the Queen of Hearts (tarts?) tyranny.
Burton has out -done himself here.
The quirky director has managed to create an intriguing world that takes a foray into the innermost workings of the "mind" and psyche "imagery" (and beyond) without much difficulty (or so it would seem).
In fact, with all the ability of a skilled sorcerer, the expert craftsman draws the audience into the fanciful dimension he's conjured up, without revealing any of the magic up his sleeve that rendered the illusion possible.
Thus, filmgoers are enterained for a couple of imagination-packed hours that captivate.
Although the costumes were exquisitely designed - and are fascinating to gaze upon - the make-up is a big disappointment.
This flaw especially rings true in respect to Johnny Depp's character ("Mad Hatter").
When Depp first appears on film - instead of being a show-stopping moment (which the audience expects given all the hype in recent days) - his grand entrance amounts to nothing more than a whimper.
For some inexplicable reason, the make-up appears to be all wrong.
And, poorly executed as well.
Though the production office spent millions on costumes, sets - and creating the eye-catching underground world of Alice through the looking glass - the studio obviously skimped on a make-up artist (sadly).
Although the "design" ideas for the characters' faces are excellent, because the makeup application is sloppy and unprofessional-looking, the whole effect fails miserably.
In fact, in some instances - sloppy lines and smudged pancake make-up - to the naked eye appear to be the botched handiwork of unskilled workers on the set.
The persona they dredged up for Depp - a down-'n-out hooker - was a total miscue.
Even still, the smorgasbord of visual delights here, are worth the price of admission.
"Alice in Wonderland" is one of those films, like Avatar, that you have to catch no matter what your taste be.
Just squint a little when you gaze on the faces of the well-developed characters on the silver screen.
That might correct the flawed appearance of the make-up.
If not, down a brewskie or a stiff scotch, 'cause that will certainly do the trick!