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Posted: Saturday, March 27, 2010 12:00 am

"Green Zone"

**** (out of four)

Limited credits aside, Paul Greengrass must be considered one of the most capable film artists working today. More specifically, he's perhaps our greatest action filmmaker. With 2002's "Bloody Sunday," an urgent docudrama about the ill-fated 1972 Irish civil rights protest, and 2006's "United 93," a bold recreation of the 9/11 hijackings, he has turned the action genre on its ear, recasting grim historical events as pulse-pounding suspense theater — not in any base or disrespectful way, but rather in a manner that pays proper tribute to their subjects while at the same time succeeding as thrilling exercises in sustained suspense.

With the second and third "Bourne" films ("The Bourne Supremacy" and "The Bourne Ultimatum") Greengrass demonstrated his ability to work within the confines of a traditional action picture and still deliver an effective product, but the director is clearly at his best when dealing with real-world subjects. His latest, "Green Zone," is a heavily fictionalized yet thinly veiled expose of the truth behind U.S. intelligence reports of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and Greengrass is obviously right at home.

"Disney's Alice in Wonderland"

****

"Disney's Alice in Wonderland" is a big-budget blockbuster that, ironically enough, seems like most genuine and complete Burton film since 1994's "Ed Wood." By framing his story as a sequel to the original Disney cartoon rather than a direct adaptation of Lewis Carols' books, Burton was able to free himself of artistic restraint, and delivers his most engaging, eye-popping, fiercely imaginative and entertaining work in many years. He's aided by a top-notch cast, which in addition to Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter also boasts the considerable talents of Helena Bonham-Carter(-Burton?) as the large-headed Red Queen, the suitably weird Crispin Glover as the Knave of Hearts, and Barbara Windsor as the voice of the Dormouse (one of several peripheral characters from Carol's stories who is given an expanded role in Burton's universe). As impressive as the film's 3-D visuals are, they take a back seat to the uniformly excellent cast of players, who bring the story to life with wit and panache.

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