Were you ever curious about what happened to Wonderland after Alice left? Did you ever imagine Alice as an adult?
SyFy* presented some entertaining ideas with its December 2009 premiere of Alice and warned “[e]verything you know will be turned on its head.” They weren’t fibbin’ and I loved (almost) every minute of it.
4 stars out of 5
I watched the two-part mini-series via my DVR the day after each episode aired on SyFy and twice more between December 2009 and January 2010.
Alice, written and directed by Nick Willing (director, Tin Man, 2007), tells the story of Alice Hamilton, an independent, outspoken woman with daddy issues. When her boyfriend, Jack Chase, asks her to go away with him to meet his parents then presents her with a mysterious ring, Alice freaks out and asks Jack to leave. She definitely has trust and commitment issues, and they stem from her father’s disappearance when she was 10 years old.
After Jack leaves Alice’s apartment, she discovers he slipped the ring into her coat before he left. So she goes after him, only to find he’s being thrown in the back of a van, and a man in white running away from the scene. In her zeal to catch the man in white, she follows him through a magical mirror to a parallel universe. And that is where the adventure to rescue Jack, and escape the depraved world of Wonderland with her life – and hopefully her head – begins.
I don’t want to give away too much of the plot because I think the surprise of where the film goes is half the fun. Of course the other half is watching Wonderland and all its inhabitants through a look glass that’s more bizarre than whimsical. The names remain the same, but everything else is changed.
Alice and Hatter were likable, even with their flaws, and I connected with both characters almost immediately. Plus, Alice’s inner journey made the film more enjoyable–a connection on a level deeper than pure entertainment. And I loved the ending. Yes, even a hardcore horror fan can appreciate endings like this one every now and again. I think my favorite character reimagining was Dee and Dum; they were creepy, fiendish tricksters.
I’m not 100% in love with the editing, but it was done well enough to fit all the pieces into a pretty much cohesive puzzle without too many holes or pace interruptions. While some of the special effects were a little hinky to me, none ruined my bond with the characters or the film.
The cast was excellent with an even mixture of somewhat familiar up-and-comers, lesser-known veterans, and well-known veterans. However, Caterina Scorsone (Alice) and Andrew Lee Potts (Hatter) were the undeniable stars of the film, and Andrew Lee Potts caught my eye straight away. So much so, I had a hard time giving anyone else in the scenes with him any attention, except, of course, during scenes with Hatter and Alice. Their chemistry…brilliant.
If you enjoy fantasy-type movies, or reimaginings** of the stories you grew up with, then I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with Alice. There’s a little bit of everything and you can find at least two or three strong elements to compensate for the weaker ones. Just remember: Avoid all oversized mirrors laying around in unusual places especially whilst chasing anyone or anything white.
Have you seen Alice? What did you like or dislike about it?
Leave a comment and let me know what you think.
If you’re a Netflix subscriber, click here for the page with Alice.
Or, you can order the DVD on Amazon, which is set for release in March 2010.
*I cringe whenever I’m forced to say or type SyFy. What the hell was wrong with The Sci-Fi Channel anyway? Could that brand really have been so terrible?
**For some reason, reimagining a book doesn’t annoy me quite as much as reimagining another film. Hmm, something to mull over I s’pose.