by Kelsey Aicher
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The Syfy Channel’s Alice is the modern made-for-TV-movie version of the classic story Alice in Wonderland. While the story still follows a female protagonist named Alice who falls through a looking glass into the magical world of Wonderland, the rest of the plot is entirely new.
Alice takes place in present-day, decades after the original Alice stumbled through Wonderland, changing it forever. This new Wonderland is less magical and more oppressive. The Queen of Hearts (Kathy Bates) drives fear into her people through her elite officers, known as “Aces.” Her other agents, the “White Rabbits,” led by right-hand man Dodo (Tim Curry), are responsible for bringing in humans from the normal world in order to hold them prisoner to steal their emotions. While the queen abuses her powers, a rebel gang, under the leadership of “The Caterpillar” (Harry Dean Stanton), devotes their time to overthrowing the queen. This political war divides the citizens of Wonderland and leaves each person suspicious of their neighbor. Wonderland is more of a wasteland.
So then where is Alice in all of this?
Alice Hamilton (Caterina Scorsone) is a twenty-five-year-old karate extraordinaire that still lives with her mom and obsesses over her father’s absence. When her handsome boyfriend Jack Chase (Philip Winchester) is captured by the White Rabbits and thrown through the looking glass, Alice makes it her duty to follow his captors into Wonderland. With the help of the neurotic White Knight (Matt Frewer) and the charming Hatter (Andrew Lee Potts), Alice fights to free not only Jack, but all the humans the Queen of Hearts holds prisoner.
The costumes are intricate, the set is elaborate, and the special effects are plentiful, but no matter how much of a spectacle Alice makes, it can’t hide from its story flaws.
While most of the characters are severely dynamic, like the Queen of Hearts and the White Knight, the most boring character of all is Alice herself. She spends most of the time being vulnerable and scared. The rest of the time she is either yelling or complaining. She gets into trouble and often allows herself to get captured, but at the most convenient times, she suddenly remembers that she is a martial arts expert and can fight her way through half a dozen men alone. It’s hard to tell if the lack of flavor in Alice is due to the written character or Caterina Scorsone’s portrayal. One thing for sure, however, is that Scorsone looks a little too old to be playing twenty-five, especially alongside her male counterpart, Andrew Lee Potts.
The concept for this adaptation is intriguing, but it was just poorly executed. If you can get past minor plot holes and occasional bad acting, and you don’t find Alice to be terribly annoying, consider checking Alice out. At the very least, its beautiful mise-en-scene will provide you with two hours of eye candy.
Alice begins on the Syfy Channel on Sunday, December 6 at 8pm CST and concludes Monday, December 7 at 8pm CST.
Kelsey Aicher is a screenwriting major at Columbia College Chicago.
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