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Malice in Wonderland


In recent years, Maggie Grace has had a tough time visiting Europe. Her exploits in Taken led to one of the most intense, bone-chilling speeches ever in the history of cinema (yes, all of cinema). Her latest trip, as Alice, resulted in similar drug-induced confusion in Malice in Wonderland, a modern-day version of the classic tale.

Grade:

Alice is running from something (you don’t find out until the end) to the point of ending up in the street for a taxi, driven by Whitey (Danny Dyer), to hit her. Upon regaining consciousness, she realizes she remembers nothing and begins her trek into the freaky London underground. She crosses paths with the same characters as her cartoon counterpart, but with more adult professions (Hattie, the mad hatter, is a brothel madam).

From a seemingly interesting premise, Malice provokes little intrigue. Director Simon Fellows clearly wanted to translate the psychedelic aspects of the animated version into live action, which to be fair must have been an arduous task, but the result is extremely confusing for a majority of the film. The constant camera changes, dialogue mimicking Lewis Carroll’s famous word play, and a lack of true storytelling makes the film particularly difficult to follow. The classic characters make their appearances with the obvious ones being apparent, but many are not called by names in the film making it harder to discern who is who. To make matters worse, the caterpillar character has a laugh resembling cat hiss. Small aspects like this result in a lackluster film that never truly makes progress.

Unlike most films, there is no true increase in suspense or interest from Malice. The entire film looks like a succession of scenes spliced together to allow for each famous Carroll character to make an appearance. There are unintelligible flashbacks throughout that attempt to piece the Alice story together, but fail miserably. Towards the end, more storylines are created that don’t have any support from earlier scenes.

The best feature of the film is the adaptation of (some) characters to modern-day subterranean forms. Whitey (the white rabbit) is a taxi driver, someone who always tries to get places on time. There is a, you could say, King of Hearts, who is actually a mob boss. Fellows worked the idea that each card suit was a gang that the Hearts slowly killed off until they controlled the London underground. The consistent cues to the classic tale are entertaining to find as the film begins to bore.

After many adventures, Alice dons the famous blue dress. Be forewarned though, she is unbelievably idiotic, more so than the animated version. The girl is trying to find her way home and willingly takes a drug that knocks her out and leaves her susceptible to degenerates. Then, suddenly, she gains unexplained confidence and mental clarity allowing for the escape from wonderland. Grace delivers her lines with a dullness reserved for a character of Alice’s mental capacity, almost to the point where you hope someone smacks her straight.

If you were a fan of the original, I would recommend avoiding Malice. If you have anything better to do for an hour and a half, I would recommend avoiding Malice. If you want to tune in and listen to it while doing something else, you will not understand what is going on whatsoever. Malice is not worth the time.

You actually learn more about the characters from the trailer than the movie!

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