From what little I know of the SyFy channel, creative– and wacky! – productions is in its DNA. Inspired by one of their more recent miniseries, Alice I decided this was worth a look. Once again, this crazy six-house series nurtures a fantasy lovers dream.
Tin Man (2007) SyFy TV Miniseries Review
Adventure is something Dorothy Gail (Zooey Deschnel) – or DG, as she is commonly known – craves. In fact, she wants something more than the dusty town she has known since childhood. Her life is far from fulfilling her curious personality. Living with her beloved parents’ on their little farm, her days consist of waitressing and getting caught speeding on her motorbike. Her mother (Gwynyth Walsh) worries and her father (Kevin McNulty) understands her best. The two are most suited. It is he whom DG confides in about the nightmares; one of bears, apples and a woman warning DG of a storm. During a sudden tornado, their cloaked men with guns invade their home, and the three barely escape with their lives.
Waking up in a forest leaves DG dazed as do the small dwarf men who suddenly surround her shouting accusations. Captured by these funny little men, DG is met with another surprise when she befriends fellow prisoner Glitch (Alan Cumming), a funny man with half a brain, who still keeps his wits about him. Joining their band is Wyatt Cain (Neal McDonough) and the frightened and cowardly Raw (Raoul Trajillo). Along with her band of misfits, DG will have to fight the witch Azkadellia (Kathleen Robertson), who is actively planning her capture…
Part one ends just as when should. Leaving you trying to catch your breath where the heroine is in danger and we assume the death of another protagonist. Even more importantly, we want more. Looking back, I cannot say as I was too impressed with the comparisons this miniseries drew from its inspiration. It’s, of course based upon the classic children’s story, The Wizard of OZ. Most new translations of classic material have so much tongue-in-cheek humor. And the ones that do interest me have been the better for it. I don’t really “connect” with this re-telling like I do Alice. Mainly because, and to be fair, I’ve only seen The Wizard of OZ once as a child.
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Though it might not be the most original, the script is more fun than it should be. (It “plays” with a lot of interesting dynamics.) Some of the minor nods to various well-known Hollywood achievements were interesting. “Tin Man” referenced law men in the O.Z, so it was interesting for Cain to have the forename “Wyatt” – who is quite a “cowboy” of a hero. The physical appearance of DG’s three companions weren’t totally obvious although I did think the Cowardly Lion was well-imagined. Cain has a decent back-story for his “heartless” nature and it’s believable. While Cumming makes “scarecrow” the fun member to the group.
The cast play each of their respective players well. Zooey as the heroine is strong and therefore, a different type than we know; she doesn’t panic at the first inkling of trouble and instead finds her lot something to solve. Her restless spirit ties into reasoning why she learns that home is where the heart is. The entire supporting cast from McDonough to Robertson is brilliant, really and the two girls who play the princesses in flashbacks are simply marvelous.
As a fantasy feature, I’d say if this genre hasn’t been your thing in the past, skip over this. Because of its genre, it works within those margins to feature some “troubling” themes. This borrows far too much from Alice or rather Alice borrowed too much
from Tin Man. (In my case it seems the other way around because I happened to see the former first.) Much of the plot is devised in similar ways and the heroines share similar characteristics. I cannot fault this miniseries to the point of sounding downtrodden because it is boat loads of fun. There is something wanting about some plot threads, but the creative team’s many brilliant assumptions, particularly in the sets and naturally, the costuming, work. It takes talent to go for a look of old world and
modern and pull it off to be attractive. The production staff manages to do just that.
All of the sets convey whatever mood we should be in; trepidation, happiness or sorrow and the costumes blend modernism with hints in the style of BBC. Designers use a lot of leather and armor, but the gowns are generally long with feminine touches, plus there’s lots of long trench coats and old weaponry. DG wears the same jeans and jacket throughout but just a small nod to Judy Garland’s iconic Dorothy is her waitress uniform which mirrors the pinafore dress and white blouse. The
ending is satisfying, but I also don’t think it realized its full potential. Fantasy leaves so many more doors open to the crew and director because it’s pure imagination and I think in combination with its original concept, Tin Man is a classic in a class all its own.
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You can find Tin Man digitally on Amazon Video
CONTENT: many creatures appear out of no where, threatening their prey. All sorts of magic is implemented; one woman has a line of tattoos across her upper chest, images that come out of her skin at will, she also can kill a person by “taking” the life out of them , another gives her powers in much the same way to save someone dear to her. A witch inhabits the body of a young
girl, twisting her mind. Many men wield swords and use them when their mistress commands it. [None of the results are overly bloody.] There may be a swear word here and there. There are no sex scenes or much else in a sensual way, but women do wear many form-fitting, shear and low-cut gowns. In order to get information, someone enters a type of brothel where the madam also provides a “phone sex” operation.