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|11-20-2009, 07:15 PM||#1|
Join Date: Feb 01, 2008
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Through The Looking Glass: A Look At Syfy's "Alice"
Going through the looking glass with Syfy's Alice
Posted Nov 20th 2009
by Mike Moody
The producers of Tin Man, Syfy's dark and splashy spin on The Wizard of Oz, are back with Alice, a twisted take on Lewis Carroll's classic Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
In a conference call with reporters, Alice director Nick Willing and star Caterina Scorsone talked flying flamingos, Tweedledee and Tweedledum's torture tactics, and what Wonderland would look like 150 years after Alice's original adventure.
We'll have an advance review of Alice next week, but for now you can head after the jump for an inside look at the miniseries, premiering December 6 on Syfy.
A modern Wonderland
This isn't director Willing's first trip to Wonderland. He helmed a somewhat more faithful adaptation of Carrol's book in 1999 for NBC. Willing said he had a tough time adapting the source material into a film the first time around. After his success directing Tin Man, he wanted to reinvent another fantasy-based classic and saw an opportunity to make his "own kind of groovy version" of Alice.
The story takes place 150 years after the events of Carroll's book. Wonderland has transformed into a modern dystopia with a slightly kitschy art deco look and feel (think 1985's Return to Oz).
The Queen of Hearts (Kathy Bates) rules by keeping her subjects sedated with elixirs, or teas, that offer instant human emotions like ecstasy and passion. Willing likens this to our own obsession with instant gratification through technology.
The emotions are drained from humans who are kidnapped by the "White Rabbit" organization. The humans are kept in a surreal casino complete with blackjack tables and burlesque dancers.
Wonderland's pink flamingos have turned into flying machines, and Tweedledee and Tweedledum are now torturers who invade Alice's nightmares. "I always saw Tweedledee and Teweedledum as tortures of her. They are nasty schoolboys who wanted to pull the wings off flies and torture little girls, " Willing said.
Alice teams up with the Hatter (Andrew Lee Potts ), a carpetbagger with the heart of a revolutionary, to find her missing love and to undermine the Queen's rule.
This Alice is a black belt
Alice is a very passive character in Lewis Carrol's books. She's a young girl exploring a rich and fascinating world, but she's not very fascinating herself, Scorsone, who plays the title character, said.
The new Alice is an independent and assertive young woman. She teaches martial arts and doesn't pull any punches when its time to fight herself out of a sticky situation.
Scorsone's Alice enters Wonderland with a purpose and goes through an emotional journey to find her lost boyfriend and to explore hidden aspects of her own personality. And she's also a brunette, a deliberate choice to let viewers know that they're "in for a different kind of ride," said Scorsone.
Scorsone's co-stars include Primeval's Andrew Lee Potts as Hatter and Hollywood vets like Tim Curry as Dodo, Harry Dean Stanton as Caterpillar, Matt Frewer as The White Knight and Kathy Bates as The Queen of Hearts.
Willing said Bates jumped at the chance to play a more complex version of the Queen, whose thirst for instant gratification has transformed her kingdom into a darker place.
Will you watch?
I wasn't a big fan of Tin Man. It seemed to drag and offered little more than a darker and quirkier look at the original's story and characters. Wiling and crew seem to have invented an entirely new story for Alice that, of course, offers homage to Carrol's books.
I like that Alice is intended to work as a sequel of sorts to the books and isn't just a warped re-telling of the classic story. I only hope the story is good enough to hold my interest for two nights.
|12-04-2009, 08:19 PM||#2|
Join Date: Feb 01, 2008
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Syfy's Alice -- An early look
Posted Dec 4th 2009
by Mike Moody
It's hard for me to get excited about something like Alice, Syfy's twisted new take on Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
NBC and Syfy seemingly produce these modern versions of classic tales for the same reason Hollywood studios push out stale remakes and sequels – they already have a built in audience.
And the producers don't have to worry about coming up with an original story. All they have to do is force some contempo quirkiness into the age-old text and be done with it. (Make the flamingos flying machines! Turn the caterpillar into a hookah-smoking Harry Dean Stanton!)
Similar to Syfy's Tin Man, its dark and tedious Wizard of Oz redo, Alice offers a bizarre retread of its classic source material.
But writer-director Nick Willing (the brains behind Tin Man) smartly sets his tale in a futuristic version of Lewis Carroll's Wonderland. And he's created a brand new Alice too. She's a tough twentysomething brunette who teaches martial arts and high-kicks bad guys in the face.
Alice (Caterina Scorsone) follows her kidnapped boyfriend through the looking glass and ends up in a dystopian fantasy world -- Wonderland, 150 hard years after the original Alice's trip down the rabbit hole.
The place is ruled by the wicked Queen of Hearts (an over-the-top Kathy Bates) who dopes her subjects with liquid emotions drained from kidnapped humans.
After a quick tour of Wonderland's fantastic horrors, Alice meets the crafty young Hatter (Andrew-Lee Potts), and they set off on a mildly amusing quest to find her boyfriend and topple the Queen's rule.
The lead performers are Alice's greatest assets.
Scorsone is confident and rarely boring, and Potts steals the show as the scruffy and charming Hatter (which means I'll now have to start watching his BBC series, Primeval.)
The supporting cast offers a few pleasant surprises – like a spry Tim Curry as Dodo and Matt Frewer as the goofy White Knight – but talented actors like Colm Meaney and Battlestar Galactica's Alessandro Juliani are wasted in small thankless roles.
Alice offers some fun trippy moments and a clever take on Wonderland (I can't comment on the final visual effects, since our screener was a rough cut), but it never really takes off or comes close to capturing the imagination. (Its four-hour running time might be partly to blame.)
Some clumsy "message" moments, a simplistic chase movie plot, and a predictable sentimental ending snuff out what little spark this thing has going for it.
Alice premieres December 6 at 9 p.m. ET on Syfy.
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