The Syfy channel’s Alice (2009) was the first of what’s becoming a series of science fiction/modernized classic tales. Being a fan of the original and overall tale of Alice in Wonderland, I automatically took a liking to the adaptation. However, there are many deviations from the original story. The main character, Alice Hamilton, is just getting cozy with the idea of commitment with her boyfriend, Jack, when he’s kidnapped by a mysterious man with long white hair. Alice follows to see them enter into a mirror down a dark alleyway which, after some hesitation, she also enters.
On the other side of the looking glass, Alice finds herself in a twisted world where human desires and emotions are harvested in casinos to feed the wealth and power of the Queen of Hearts. Meeting many “original” characters along the way who aren’t exactly as you remember them, Alice realizes that she plays a key role in the resistance despite only wanting to find her boyfriend and return to her world; all of which causes an obvious tension between her and the Hatter.
There are a great many things I enjoyed about this miniseries. In general, the concept of Wonderland being a casino that harvests feelings from human “oysters” is extremely clever as well as creative. So is the general categorization of the characters in regard to the resistance and to the Queen of Hearts. However, I have a few qualms about some of the characters. For one, there is no Cheshire Cat, a well-liked staple in the Alice in Wonderland universe and my personal favorite. Next, while I like the idea that the March Hare is a mad, ruthless assassin, it is not much like the original march hare at all who is just crazy. Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum are demented hypnotist/interrogators that are not light-hearted and strange but terrifying. And the Walrus and the Carpenter are scientists that work to prefect the harvesting of human feelings. Yes, Lewis Carroll’s Walrus and Carpenter do harvest the oysters, they are not doing it for someone else’s gain and are definitely not scientists. Instead, they’re hungry and come to a solution for that problem. On the other hand, these two characters exchange a few lines from the original story which makes the literary classicist such as myself quite pleased.
Altogether I like this version; I find the ideas within it both fascinating and clever but it’s the creativity of these ideas that saves the show. While it has a stunning cast and imagery, it has weak points that make it pale in comparison with some other versions of Alice that are more closely related to the original. I find it entertaining and enjoyable but lacking in literary accuracy.