Until a friend reviewed this, I really didn’t pay much attention to it. Mostly because my entrance into fantasy has been very gradual and not being a die-hard fan of the story on which this is based didn’t help any either. Still, it was always in the back of my mind to someday see.
Alice (2009) TV Miniseries Review
Independent, but full of trust issues, Alice (Caterina Scorsone) is an expert black belt and part-time instructor. Since her father left her some ten years ago, Alice is full of feelings of inadequacy. This means she carries this into her relationships with men. This time though, she is crazy about her boyfriend Jack (Philip Winchester). They plan to take the next step in their relationship until Jack proposes. Then Alice does what she does best – she panics and sends Jack out the door. When she doesn’t realize he slips the ring in her pocket, she dashes out after him and sees men forcing him into a truck. Trying to stop them, she follows the mysterious man claiming he’ll help Jack… and instead she falls headlong into a strange world that everyone calls Wonderland.
Fantasy network SyFy creates a unique look for a storybook fairy tale that had the potential to become the “same-old, same-old” mantra. Instead of falling into that trap, they upped expectations, setting it in modern times with a brilliant production design and twists that inspire touches of an “old world” era. An example is a trading room which takes on the appearance of “Wall Street” with traders in 1900s costumes. The rest of the film dresses its characters in modern attire. Everything at the palace is terrifically reminiscent of the iconic playing cards – and really modern, making that setting and costuming full of whimsy. Seeing Alice in one costume the entire time grew a little tedious, mainly because the dress wasn’t all that attractive.
The creators idea seemed to revolve around exploring the world of Wonderland one-hundred plus years after it first appeared and that idea pays off. Instead of trading stocks, residents’ trade emotions, having been driven into such despair by poor leadership, they are now unable to feel anything. Some may find this theme a little bothersome since the villains capture people from the real world in order to suction all their emotions, bottle them and sell them to the highest bidder.
Most of this is, plain and simple, clever. Granted it is really wacky, but otherwise, things are decently harmless with exception to the whole idea behind the story. Following closely on the heels of this miniseries was Disney’s Alice in Wonderland. For a heroine, this Alice is a complex and strong leader. Caterina’s Alice is a much more interpretive portrayal than that of Mia Wasikowska. Both female protagonists inspire feminism; one in a world dominated by men, the other by her fearless personality. I won’t lie. I like characters – male or female – to be strong leads. A lady doesn’t need to be so independent she’s above needing help, but I don’t mind if she’s confident enough to know her own strengths – and weaknesses.
Seeing Alice as a coherent heroine is interesting. Her one stumbling block is a lack of trust. Her distrust encompassed the small things in life as well as the bigger things. All of which she fosters with her feelings of abandonment and inadequacy. The way filmmakers place a viewer into the classic tale is adorable, but they also add their own unique spin; and take their production and interpretations of it in completely different directions.
How all the characters interact with their storybook counterpart is ingenious. Even to someone who has no religious knowledge of the original concepts, I see the parallels. And not just in the characters, all of the wonderful additions pay homage to Carroll’s work and that is something to applaud. This was an achievement that the entire cast and crew should be proud of. The results are comical, touching and reminiscent of the “true” Alice. Even in its whimsical, wackiness, I love it.
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Content: A couple of sexual insinuations may pepper the script. Da*n and h*ll are used. There is an “epic” battle nearer the end… with a bunch of corpses. Various people at various points in the movie are shot at. Two men get inside Alice’s head, trying to gain information and later torture a man. Plus an assassin is kind of weird having lost his head; scientists have to use a ceramic bunny “head” as a quick fix.