Release Date: 5th February 2010

Director: Simons Fellows: (Until Death / 7 Seconds / Second In Command)

Cast: Maggie Grace, Danny Dyer, Matt King, Bronagh Gallagher, Paul Kaye, Fiona O’Shaughnassey, Amanda Boxer, Anthony Higgins, Gary Beadle with Pam Ferris and Nathaniel Parker

Writer: Jayson Rothwell





  1. review by JOE PESCI II – 2.5 out of 10

    It is only right and just and natural that the great stories be retold and adapted into new media and disseminated to new audiences. I understand that and I support it. I have no problem with remakes, reboots, new versions, films of the book, films of the musical of the book of the play, etc. In theory. Often of course such exercises end up being little more than crass cash-ins which have kept little more than the name of their illustrious originals. But there is no intrinsic reason why a storyteller should not retell stories already told before, provided they can do it in an interesting and appropriate way.
    Now, we have under discussion a little known film called MALICE IN WONDERLAND, which takes the book Alice in Wonderland as its model (obviously). Now, the film is intensely irritating, illogical and I hated it. And I was ready to come over to the typing screen thing and say that it was a terrible misrepresentation/remake of the book, and that it did damage to everything Carroll wrote. Then I remembered that the book is intensely irritating and illogical and I hated it. So, in a weird way, the film does honour at least some of the spirit of the book, it’s just that, coming from me at least, that is not meant to be much of a recommendation.
    We are plunged straight into the action as a young woman runs around the London underground. She’s on the run from shady CIA-types, but runs into a homeless woman. This brief encounter delays her, and before you know it she’s been knocked over by a taxi, is suffering from amnesia and being accidentally kidnapped by Danny Dyer as the White Rabbit. Yes, you read that right. I ought to be celebrating this. This is the sort of thing that should only happen in that weird parallel universe where 600 monkeys are typing out the works of Shakespeare. I mean, what genius dreamed this idea up? It’s absolutely bonkers and brilliant. Or it should be.
    Alas, it doesn’t work. This isn’t Dyer’s fault. Elsewhere, Pam Ferris, Matt King, Paul Kaye and Bronagh Gallagher all turn up supposedly playing characters based on figures from Carroll, but only Gary Beadle comes anywhere close to succeeding (he’s the Cheshire Cat). The reasons for these failures? Not the actors, who seem to be having a lovely time. The problem lies in the script. We know our heroine is Alice even if she doesn’t, but as her backstory slowly emerges (not through detective work or anything clever but through people watching TV – her dad’s a billionaire appealing for the return of his kidnapped daughter ), we find that it’s all rather underwhelming. And as she is propelled through a nocturnal cavalcade of weird characters and situations, there seems to be no dramatic tension. In the original book this lack of tension is made up for by the logic and word games Carroll adored. Here we just have a ghastly succession of garish caricatures which rarely have any relation to the originals. (Matt King is the Dodo apparently.) (But I had to look that up.)
    As in the book we follow Alice through a series of odd scenes (including a mobile brothel) people by odd characters, none of whom are given enough time to make any impression (other than being mildly irritating). The big showdown is at Harry’s party. This being a LBBF, Harry is of course a gangster (played by Nathaniel Parker), and all the other characters are scared of him. This plotline, like all the others leads nowhere. (He even has a pair of Tweedledum bouncers. Oh, the hilarity.)

    The film looks great. The production designer must have had a good time, the cinematography is unusually crisp and colourful (for a low-budget British film) (hereafter LBBF), and I thought the music worked well. But aside from that (well, even with all that), it’s a very pretty mess. Will poor Alice get her memory back? Will she get away from the people chasing her? Will she work out what her hidden secret is? The answers are yes, yes, and yes, but you just don’t care, despite Maggie Grace’s best efforts. She does at least look suitably (but only slightly) disoriented by everything (but then the original Alice was never particularly ruffled either). Ultimately, the film is scuppered by not knowing what it wants to be. As an update of the Carroll book it is too loose. If Carroll is instead meant to be an inspiration for a modern fairy tale, the problem is that the film does nothing with that inspiration other than nod at it. As a fantasy it isn’t fantastic enough, sitting as it does in a world which isn’t just divorced from our reality but from any reality, even its own. As a dream, it’s just one of those annoying ones where people run from one place to another without rhyme or reason, or, most damagingly, interest.
    Although I begrudgingly commend the film-makers for coming up with something out of the ordinary I just wish that they’d found a better way of dealing with their material. At its best there is some imagination on show here (a rare commodity in the world of the LBBF), and in a strange way there is more of the spirit of Carroll here than in Tim Burton’s dreary version, but at its worst it’s poorly constructed, flat, and with all the fantasy of a motorway café (which is where the Mad Hatter’s tea party puts in an unrecognisable appearance). Best thing: casting Danny Dyer. Worst thing: everything else. This film is probably best avoided unless you need it as ammunition for a dissertation on any of the following subjects: why you shouldn’t update classic stories; what went wrong in British films in the 21st century; Danny Dyer – where it all went wrong; or how to drive an audience crazy in precisely the opposite way to the way you intend.

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