Alice is fun from start to finish. It's from the same RHI Entertainment and director Nick Willing who leadenly tackled The Wizard of Oz in the 2007 miniseries Tin Man. But Willing (who also wrote the script) keeps the action and humor coming this time, even as he adds a dark edge to this retelling of Alice in Wonderland.
The cast, led by 22-year-old Caterina Scorsone, is terrific. While side players Kathy Bates as the evil Queen of Hearts ("Off with her head!"), Matt Frewer (The White Knight), Tim Curry (Dodo), Colm Meaney (King of Hearts) and Harry Dean Stanton (Caterpillar) chew scenery with gusto, Scorsone underplays to great effect.
She's an action-figure Alice, a black-belt Judo expert who has trouble with relationships, since her father disappeared when she was 10. After she stumbles through the looking glass, a portal to bleak Wonderland, she teams up with Hatter, played winningly by Primeval's Andrew Lee Potts, and the Knight on a quest that takes her up against the Queen.
Frewer plays the Knight a bit like you'd think Jim Carrey would, but he's Max Headroom and as such deserves some slack.
The dialogue is sharp, with the occasional Lewis Carroll line ("Twinkle, twinkle little bat ...") thrown in cleverly. The British Columbia locales and green-screen effects are fine. The four hours (over two nights) fly by.
The two-part miniseries Alice premieres Sunday Dec. 6 at Monday Dec. 7 at 9 p.m. on Syfy.