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A 2009 television miniseries based on the book Alice in Wonderland.

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"Alice" In Not So Wonderland...

  • Dec 16, 2009
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Syfy has this tendency to release miniseries revolved around stories that have already been done in the scifi/fantasy genre.  It's been done with Robin Hood with Syfy's Saturday night film, Beyond Sherwood Forest as well as their take on The Wizard of Oz with Tin Man, made by the same people who have now brought Alice to the world.  Some of these takes on classics can be very well made while others...many others fall far below sub par to just plain terrible.  While Tin Man was one of the exceptions and was actually quite good, Alice falls into a grey area which left me wanting more, but not knowing exactly what that more was...  Alice had the potential to do really amazing things for the Syfy channel as they continue to expand their horizons, but where Alice in Wonderland is one of the trippiest stories of all time, Alice seemed just a little to normal.

When Alice Hamilton (Caterina Scorsone) accidentally falls through the looking glass after following the White Rabbit, she is transported to a world very unfamiliar to her...Wonderland.  Before entering this mysterious world, Alice's current squeeze, Jack (Philip Winchester) gives her an engagement ring that has been in his family for a very long time.  Alice must now find Jack who has been kidnapped, with the help of Hatter, a mysterious man who is very eager to help her out.  Along the way, Alice and Hatter will come across great mysteries and shocking twists.  What Alice doesn't know is that the ring she has on her finger is the great Stone of Wonderland, the very object that gives the looking glass its power and an item that the evil Queen of Hearts (Kathy Bates) will stop at nothing to get back.  One thing Alice does know for sure...nothing is as it seems in Wonderland.

The biggest problem with Alice was that it was to modernized.  While the design of the some of the sets were very well executed and quite brilliant, like the casino and torture chambers, the city of Wonderland itself looked virtually like New York City went through World War III.  One of the most unsettling parts of Alice was seeing the Queen of Hearts henchmen, also known as Suits (a great play on words), using shotguns and pistols!  It's Wonderland for god's sake, come up with something better than shotguns!  That was really the problem because the miniseries would try and be trippy, but then add a very modern twist to the story.  While the Suits are chasing Alice, Hatter and the White Night Charlie, they are all on these flying flamingo speeder bikes, yet firing shotguns.  Alice would have benefitted from either sticking with going strictly modern or strictly true to how far the rabbit hole really goes. 

There was a very even mix of good acting and bad acting.  Alice's other major problem was its use of highly acclaimed actors like Kathy Bates and Tim Curry.  To be blunt, Tim Curry was in Alice for a total of five minutes and made a complete ass out of himself.  I don't understand why Syfy has this need to try and bring in these amazing actors who quite frankly are way above Syfy miniseries and films.  It was a complete waste of his talents and Syfy probably spent a fortune just to get him.  While Kathy Bates was a step above Tim Curry, she was the wrong person for the part.  The Queen of Hearts is supposed to be an extremely frightening character and half the time, she reminded me more of an angry mother than a head chopping psychopath.  This was again, a way for Syfy to get big name talent into their films.  Tin Man, excluding Zooey Deschanel and Alan Cumming( who were both very good), did just fine without big name stars and benefited from it.

The unknown actors of Alice like Caterina Scorsone were a hundred times better than the wasted talent of big name actors.  For an actor like Scorsone who hasn't been widely known until now, she did a tremendous job under the circumstances.  While she wasn't playing the Alice we know from the children's book, Caterina Scorsone was fantastic as the Alice she was cast to play.  Her fellow cast members, including Philip Winchester as Jack Heart and Andrew Lee Potts as Hatter also gave outstanding acting performances.  The one thing that Syfy does have is a nack at finding really talented relatively unknown actors which really benefits them when making these kinds of miniseries.  All to often do you see a Syfy Saturday Night Movie with the monster of the week starring A and B list actors who all of a sudden bring their acting levels down to being completely unbearable.

Alice is just a in a grey area.  It isn't that good, but it really wasn't that bad.  That's the chance you take with re-imaginings and reboots though.  Some will really excel while other will completely fail.  While it won't hurt you to watch it, Alice is a four hour miniseries so feel free to take it in strides.  Syfy also tends to release these title on DVD and Blu-ray fairly quick so you also have the option to wait for that.  If for anything, watch Alice for Caterina Scorsone).  While her acting can improve, she is definitely up and coming and was truly impressive.  Philip Winchester is also the same way and I'm sure we will be seeing him in plenty more.  Alice gets 3/5! 

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December 16, 2009
Hmmm, this sounds pretty interesting.  Alice with a boyfriend, eh?  How they modernized it sounds like what they did to Romeo and Juliet in the version with Claire Danes and Leonardo Dicaprio.  Looks like I'm going to have to check it out for myself.  Thanks for sharing, Julian! :)
More Alice (Syfy miniseries) reviews
review by . December 09, 2009
   Alice in my opinion was a incredibly awesome mini series.  Both the story and the Actors were fantastic, which is good because if you have a great story but bad actors (and Vi's versa) the movie wouldn't go over very well, and if you have neither you get Ghost Rider.  I really did enjoy this series (movie).
About the reviewer
Julian Brown ()
Hi, my name is Julian Brown. I currently write for The Brotherly Game, a local Philadelphia soccer website where I cover the US Women's National Team and the local WPS Philadelphia Independence. I … more
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Alice is a 2009 television mini-series being broadcast on American cable television channel Syfy. The miniseries is a reimagining of the classic Lewis Carroll stories Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, taking place about 150 years later with science fiction and additional fantasy elements added.  The miniseries is being produced by RHI Entertainment, the company that produced Tin Man, the highly successful 2007 adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The series is four hours long, split into two parts, and premiered on Sunday, December 6, 2009. Writer and director Nick Willing previously directed a 1999 adaptation of the books which followed the story more closely; however, Alice is intended to be a modern interpretation, imagining how Wonderland might have evolved over the last 143 years.
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Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Release Date: December 6th 2009
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Studio: Syfy

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