Friday, June 10, 2011

Alice: A Movie Review

I watched the made-for-tv movie Alice the other day. It was shown in 2009 on the Syfy channel. Yay Netflix!
I was very entertained! I recommend it to any fan of Alice in Wonderland fan. This version is Alice with a twist: it's set in modern times, and Wonderland has evolved right along Earth in terms of technology and culture. 
To nutshell it without giving anything away:
Alice Hamilton is a young 20-something woman who lives with her mother. Her father disappeared when she was 10 years old, which has a profound effect on her life. Everything changes when her new boyfriend, Jack, shows her a ring. Thinking it too early, she asks him to leave, because she has trouble with commitment. Realizing he slipped it into her pocket before leaving, she goes out looking for him. She finds him being kidnapped by strange men, who climb into the looking glass. She jumps in after them, finding herself in Wonderland, where she is held prisoner before escaping. This Wonderland, she finds out, is not the same place as the children's book. It's a futuristic distopia, ruled by a tyrant queen who kidnaps humans from earth and harvests them for their emotion in her twisted casino.
Left to right: Charlie, Alice, Hatter
Here, she meets the quirky Mad Hatter, who owns a tea shop and works for both the resistance and the Queen. Together, they are on the run, chased by the Queen's finest assassin, Mad March. Along the way the meet many characters, including the Jabberwocky and a possibly-crazy and psychic, yet helpful old knight named Charlie. Helped by these two, Alice continues on her mission to find her boyfriend, who is trapped in the casino, and figure out the meaning of the ring he has given her.
With plenty of action, adventure, twists, and romance, this magical film kept me on my toes. It was a bit long, being a two part tv movie, but didn't drag its feet too much. On the syfy channel, you can't expect great effects, which aren't fantastic. You have to look past them to see some great performances on the part of the Hatter, Alice, and the Queen of Hearts.
The fantastic Queen and King of Hearts
Outside of the effects, this film is an absolute visual treat to watch. I'm really big on production design, but the people who designed/costumed the film did a fantastic job bringing the magic of Wonderland into the modern age. Each set has a diffrent feel. The Wonderland city set is very distopian, reflecting a society driven crazy by it's addiction to the Queen's teas (bottled emotion from humans). The Queen's casino utilizes to a great effect minimalist architecture and design, carrying Wonderland of old into Wonderland of new. Watch out for great suits on the cards and some pretty awesome dresses on the Queen. Even the extras, like dealers in the casino, have interesting costumes that pay attention to detail. Alice's dress for the film (she's wearing a lovely blue dress because she had dinner with Jack before going into Wonderland) harkens just a touch back to her timeless victorian blue dress, without being in your face. The Hatter wears some pretty sweet vintage duds (70s paisley shirt and leather jacket) that modernize the Hatter without losing his original style. 
All together, I recommend you see this film. Rent it or something, you won't be disappointed  by the whimsy and magic, mixed with a touch of darkness. 

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