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Featured TV on DVD Review: Alice

February 27th, 2010

Alice - Buy from Amazon

Alice is a modern retelling of the Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass novels that aired as a two-part mini-series on SyFy last year. Have I mentioned how much I hate that new name? Good. You could consider it a spiritual sequel to Tin Man, which holds the record for highest ratings for a SyFy show. How will this show compare to that one?

Caterina Scorsone is a woman in her 20s who has spent the past decade or so looking for her father, who disappeared when she was 10. This has hurt her ability to form long-term relationships with men, as she's developed a fear of abandonment. Her mother (Teryl Rothery) hopes her latest boyfriend, Jack Chase, while break this trend. But while he is over for dinner, he receives a text message with a single word: "Run." He tries to remain calm and get Alice to go visit his family that night, but when she balks at the idea, he gives her a ring and takes off. She follows only to see him kidnapped. When she gives chase, she trips and falls through a mirror to the other side.

On the other side is, of course Wonderland. But not the Wonderland we remember. It's been 150 years since the Alice of Legend had her adventures and the place isn't looking the same. The Queen of Hearts has been capturing people from Alice's world, called Oysters, and draining them of their emotions, which have a drug-like effect on her population. It was her agents who captured Jack. When she learns Alice has the ring, she sends her best assassin, Mad March, to get her. However, she does have allies, including Hatter, and later on The White Knight. Will she be able to rescue Jack and get back to her own world? And will getting back be complicated by what she learns about Jack and this world?

I'm of two minds when it comes to this movie. First of all, it is a very stylish movie. This is both a blessing and a curse. Seeing the strange architecture is absolutely a selling point, but too often I felt like the filmmakers were substituting style for substance. This spilled over to some of the characters. Matt Frewer's performance as The White Knight was over-the-top, but in the way that fit the character. Mad March, on the other hand, just didn't work for me. (I did like seeing Colm Meaney in the mini-series, as he's one of my favorite underused actors.) There are some elements of the story that are interesting (like the "emotion trade") but for the most part it is underdeveloped. There are a lot of parts of the mini-series that work, but there are too many missed opportunities for me to be fully engaged with the movie.

There are no extras on the DVD.

The Verdict

If you liked Tin Man, then you should check out Alice. However, many think it was not quite as strong, while the DVD has no extras. I would start with a rental.

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