This weekend Syfy is taking a trip through a very modern looking glass, complete with romance, casinos and lots of fighting. So is this Wonderland worth revisiting? Check out our spoiler free Alice review.
We were sent an extremely early edit of the film, so I'm not making a final judgment on the two-day mini movie until it airs, but what I did watch I got a excited about.
Here's the premise: Alice is a no-nonsense commitment-phobe and karate instructor. So yeah she kicks ass, and a lot, for better or worse. Strong armed Alice falls for one of her students who sneaks her some sort of magical ring and is promptly kidnapped. Alice follows her boytoy through the looking glass and is transported to Wonderland. But Wonderland has changed. It's now a dirty world that looks strangely like Vancouver. Alice soon learns that the Queen of Hearts is kidnapping humans and imprisoning them in her casino, siphoning off their happy emotions and selling them to the inhabitants of Wonderland. Thus making her beloved, for providing the quick fix, as well as rich.
Alice meets the Hatter in one of these emotion dens and the two strike a deal to go and save her boyfriend, who has presumably been kidnapped by the Queen for emotion harvesting. If I tell you more we'll get into spoiler territory, but there are plenty more twists and turns. It also gets pretty heavy with the family issues and inner love turmoil for poor Alice. In fact it really reminded me of a shorter and less in-depth version of the TV movie The 10th Kingdom, which I adored. So even coming close to that is a good thing.
Plus the cast is just bafflingly great. Tim Curry plays the Dodo, Kathy Bates is the Queen of Hearts, Harry Dean Stanton is the Caterpillar, and Colm Meaney is the King of Hearts. Those names alone are worth tuning in for. You won't want to miss watch Tim Curry walk around with his stomach forward, Dodo-style. Sure, I could mention that Curry really pushes the level of running and screaming that I can take from him, and that Kathy Bates seemed like she was sporting dead face for most of the movie, but they're are small issues.
But the real standout was Andrew Lee Potts' Hatter. Call me a sucker for British heroes who wear funny suits and like to throw their weight around, but I couldn't rip my eyes off of the Hatter when he was on screen. Almost to the detriment of Alice. Potts is familiar with the scifi world, having starred in the BBC's Primeval, but he really hits his stride here. And while I was watching him on a version that needed copious edits and tweaks, I still really enjoyed watching him try to elevate the story and dialogue he was handed. Yes, making the Hatter a cute hipster is a little eye rolling, but he made it work. Potts really attempted to sell some of his totally implausible actions he was taken in by the script. You heard it here first: If Matt Smith the new Doctor crashes and burns, certainly wouldn't be any worse off with Potts. But that's just hopeful projecting on my part.
So the bottom line: I'm tuning in. I'm anxious to see what the home of Matt Frewer's dimwitted White Knight looks like, as it's merely described as a chessboard forest kingdom. Along with the flying jetski-like flamingo sky cars, and the Queen's casino once the FX are all finished. Plus I wouldn't miss the opportunity to watch Andrew Lee Potts make me reassess my staunch views on men who wear guyliner.
Even though some of the story did feel a bit pushed here and there, and the plot was in an eternal loop of running to the casino and escaping, then running back, and escaping, the characters, settings, costumes and actors make this worth your time. And for those of you worried it's a Tim Burton rip, fear not: This contemporary Wonderland has a strange feel all on it's own.
Here's the trailer:
The first part begins December 6th, 8 PM.