On paper a cyber-punk rendition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland sounds like a genius move. So leave it to SyFy to fuck it all up.
Long on style with but a footnote on plot, Alice is a lifeless thing that constantly tries to make itself interesting. And the titular heroine takes herself far too seriously. There is no sense of joy, menace, naughtiness or fun in this Wonderland. It’s a cold, sterile world in which no one really seems mad so much as they’re all dressed up for a fetishistic future rave party.
Caterina Scorsone doesn’t make much of an impression as Alice; she looks dour and knows karate. This coupled with the fact that her dad ran out on her when was really young and left her with an inability to have a successful relationship or commit is about the extent of her character development. We’re already off to a note that is far too serious for something based on Lewis Caroll’s whimsical yet nightmarish story.
So thank god for Andrew Lee Potts, Matt Frewer and Kathy Bates as the Mad Hatter, White Knight and Queen of Hearts, respectively. Frewer gets in touch with his inner manic and deliriously loopy side and transforms the White Knight into something that threatens to hark back to the original text. Bates, a perfect choice for the role, plays her Queen like Angela Lansbury in The Manchurian Candidate. She’s the ultimate bad mother, and Bates gives the role a campy élan that makes this Queen something between a steely drag queen and a petulant brat. And Potts, so adorable that I spent most of the running time just fawning at him, at least makes his Hatter a bit of a rogue. His smile is cheeky and mischievous, his loyalty is questionable, and he’s got a great physicality for the role. It’s a pity that Tim Curry and Harry Dean Stanton are wasted as the Dodo and Caterpillar, one-and-done scene characters who are hyped up to be more important than they actually are.
This Wonderland looks like Blade Runner as told by the Brothers Grimm when viewed in cityscape. But we spend most of our time stuck in interiors that look like abandoned hospitals or too clean sets. The Queen’s casino should have been more inventive and original than it actually ends up being. It’s a bit of a wash in the end. So much potential just wasted on a version of the story without much joy or imagination.
I really love this one. All environment is so amazing. And the story about Alice is given in a different angel. It can look like a cheep move in the beginning, but it's really not. It's worth watching. I hope one day I'll find it in original language (english).
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