Alice in Wonderland (TV Movie 1999) Poster

(1999 TV Movie)

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Extremely clever
Jolie7 March 1999
As you watch the beginning of "Alice in Wonderland", pay close attention to the guests at the tea party. You might notice Martin Short and his companion, a man placing two buns atop his head as if he were, say, a March Hare. Notice also the man flirting with the woman at the end-you could almost call him a scurvy Knave. But enough with the plays on words. This version of "Alice in Wonderland" was exceedingly well done. From the moment Alice falls down the rabbit hole to the moment she catches the apple, we are spellbound by the fantasy the film has woven for us. Part of its appeal is its satirical notions. Consider the "caucus race", where everyone is cheating. Cynics of politics might agree with this. There is also the trial at the end, where the evidence is as insubstantial as a house of cards. One needs to watch the film or read the novel many times to pick up all of the references!

I enjoyed watching Alice's transformation from stage fright child to confident young girl. It was a continuing thread that helped the story attain a greater level of continuity. Yet the most entertaining portions of the film were those with Martin Short, Miranda Richardson, and Gene Wilder, to name a few. They held nothing back, which magnified the absurdities of their characters to the nth degree. Lastly, the featuring of the tea party at the beginning of the film and the end helped tie it together. A well done film.
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The Best of Times, the Worst of Times
vox-sane4 January 2001
Alice's adventures in Wonderland have always been easy to visualize, thanks to Tenniel's classic illustrations; but they have been difficult to realize. With computer technology at the state it's at at the turn of the twenty-first century, for the first time Tenniel can come to life in a way that doesn't look like animation.

This is the best looking "Alice" ever. The backgrounds are consistently excellent. The passage from one episode to the other is suitably dreamlike. The computer-animated characters are superb.

The cast is variable. Tina Majorina was a revelation as Alice. I had to check imdb to make sure she wasn't just someone like Reese Witherspoon, an older actress able to look ten years younger. Her performance was exquisite, even better than Fiona Fullerton's 1972 Alice.

Martin Short was good as the Mad Hatter (everyone has a favorite Mad Hatter from days past, and mine was Robert Helpmann from 1972, who also played the child-catcher in "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang"). All the royalty were good. Problems in the cast were Gene Wilder; it might've been his most understated performance since his droll turn as Willie Wonka, but good as he was, he was nevertheless out of place and looked ridiculous and uncomfortable in his costume. Too, though Whoopi Goldberg wasn't bad as the Cheshire cat, the point of her performance was to show Whoopi Goldberg as the Cheshire cat rather than the cat itself.

The "Looking Glass" intrusions weren't out of place. A miniseries doing "Wonderland" one night and "Looking Glass" the next might've been nice, but the best elements were taken from "LG" and the results don't look patched in. The cameos, again, are variable. Robbie Coltrane is an actor too little used and it's good to see him anywhere; and though I might've preferred to see him in a dual role, he worked well with George Wendt as Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Christopher Lloyd was perfectly cast as the White Knight, but the White Knight got short shrift and was hardly worth sticking in at all, other than -- once more -- to say, "Look, we got Christopher Lloyd in a thankless role!". "The Walrus and the Carpenter" was not at all distracting -- and with Peters Ustinov and Postlethwait one would almost wish for a whole movie just about them.

The problems, however, do keep it from being the authoritative "Alice". For one thing, someone thought it would be clever to add lines. In most filmed novels this isn't so bad, since the dialogue in books serves a different purpose than the dialogue in movies. But Carroll's dialogue is so precise he might've been writing a play; and it's so well known that any extraneous line stands out like re-writings in "Hamlet". One gets the idea that the writers thought they were as clever as Carroll, and proved that the most notable thing about them was their collective ego.

This led to particular difficulties with the caterpillar. Ben Kingsley was a good choice for the role and -- like everyone else in the movie -- was very good. But his part seemed altered enough to make one suspicious of the writers' intentions. The framing sequence wasn't bad (again, perhaps a whole movie with that cast in non-Wonderland parts would be wonderful), not as bad as Carroll purists would say, but was unnecessarily preachy, as if the story had to have a moral at the end.

A number of roles in the "Alice" books should, when performed, have human performers: The Mad Hatter, the King and Queen and Jack of Hearts, the Duchess, Tweeledum and --dee, the White Knight, et. al. Some, since we have the technology, should be done by computer graphics, with famous voices, if need be. Star-studded "Alice" vehicles have appeared in the past: the top-heavy 1985 Natalie Gregory "Alice", for instance, where a famous actor's face had to be seen in every role; and the notable 1972 Fiona Fullerton bomb, where many of Britain's finest actors (including Peter Sellers and Ralph Richardson) made complete fools of themselves.

Overall, this is the best Alice ever made (including Disney's). It has dreadful moments where famous actors are shoehorned into roles just to say they're there. It has peculiar elements from "Looking Glass" mixed in at odd angles, but such as they are they aren't terrible. And it has a beautifully talented Alice. For those who aren't dogmatic about their Carroll, this is the one to see if you're looking for an "Alice" to pass an afternoon. And children, who don't know any better than we opinionated adults, will be delighted.
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Kabumpo2 March 1999
Lewis Carroll is a difficult author to adapt satisfactorily to the screen. Worse yet, most versions try to add some sort of lesson to the story that was never there to begin with. This, too uses a version that simply doesn't work. Alice does not want to have to sing "Cheery Ripe" so the whole film becomes about the importance of performing for an audience. That fails to really hold the film together. Despite this, this is probably the best-looking version of the two books yet. It does neither what the Children's Theatre Company did in 1982, and try to exactly mimic Tenniel's illustrations, nor that of the Harry Harris production, in which the actors had to be recognizable so they wore simple costumes with pig ears or rabbit ears, etc. Here there is a mix of puppetry and mere suggestion. Many of the minor anthropomorphics simply bear resemblance to whatever animal they were supposed to be, such as there was the use (again) of an all-star cast. It frequently makes fun of the fact that many of the cast do not speak in an English accent, though the American actor playing Alice does. The film, however, has beautiful cinematography and visionary effects. The early sequence in the library seems like the Halmis are trying to out-Gulliver their adaptation of Book III of Gulliver's Travels. The extreme visuals begin with the giant metronome at the beginning and carry all sorts of wonderful metaphor. Odd jump cuts and strange reflections don't look like goofs, but contribute to weirdness. A storm like _The Neverending Story_'s Nothing forces her to move on in her dream world to escape. The sped-up photography for the White Rabbit seems a nod to _El Gatto con Botas_, and of course, it's tied together like MGM's version of _The Wizard of Oz_. Like all films of these books, it has good elements and poorly handled elements, and certainly there is no definitive version, but this is one of the more interesting ones.
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Wonderful, wonderful!
Srya_Medalkeyen12 September 2004
I have only one complaint, and that is that they mixed the two books; but eh, they all do that. I think I'm the only one who is writing two separate scripts, one for each book. Seriously though, it's a very good rendition. They gave it more of a plot, but it works. And what casting! Goodness! I love the Knave of Hearts, he's a riot.

All in all, there is only that one complaint. I mean, Alice's hair color is even correct! (the real Alice was a brunette)

One last comment, just something that they did that didn't particularly bother me, but might bother some: Alice was older in this, maybe thirteen, fourteen?
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What A Trip!
mogwai-19 April 2002
Yeah, maybe it's got its faults (Looking Glass scenes added in inexplicably, whatever), but by God this is the trippiest film ever made! Hours and hours of madness! It's like you're in a dream that takes control of you. The grass and the trees are so green, the colours are so amazingly vivid, the camerawork is so - melty? - and everything just flows together in the weirdest, most unreal way. So enjoyable. Everything is happy and crazy, just like Lewis Carroll intended it to be. Live a little, just like Alice! Dive into it! I ended up imagining I was Alice and walking in and out of these magical places for hours. What a druggy film - the caterpillar, a thousand references, sentences mangled and regurgitated as inspired poetry, rainbow colours, hundreds of characters, the list goes on.

I love this film! Watch it! Lock yourself away with it!
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Decent TV Version
lual8 December 2005
I love the two Alice books and quite often I find myself looking through the pages, reading some of my favorite parts.

I think for a TV_version, this film works quite well, it is a treat to watch all those celebrities becoming some of the most famous characters in literature. Strangely though, my favorite sequence is the one with Peter Ustinov and Pete Postlethwaite as the Walrus and the Carpenter, probably the only scene in the movie that does not contain CGI.

So, why only six stars? As in most versions, the makers of the movie have mixed all kinds of elements from "Alice in Wonderland" with "Through the looking glass" (Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum, The Walrus and the Carpenter, The White Knight). It may work, if you really look at the books just as a collection of episodes, but whenever this is done, the makers miss the point of the books. Alice in "Through the looking glass" is quite different from Alice in "Alice in wonderland" and also, there is a completely different composition to the latter book which is explained in the preface and which finds no acknowledgment whatsoever here. I think the makers of this movie again don't understand the books at all and though I enjoy watching these scenes independently from each other, the whole leaves me unsatisfied.

I have gotten used to mixing the Alice stories, Walt Disney has done the same thing and others as well. But what bothers me most about this film it that it turns the whole thing into a story of initiation. Come on.... Alice does not dare to perform a song in front of her parent's guest but after walking through Wonderland she finally does? This is just plain wrong and completely in contrast to the meaning of the books. Why would you want do make sense out of nonsense? The books are meant to portray Victorian stereotypes, make fun of language etc, but not to enrich a child to become more independent and self-assured. Moreover, it does not make sense at all, why Alice should finally be able to sing in front of the others.

All in all, this movie has fine performances and puppets and decent (considering the time it was made and it being made for TV) CGI, is nice to look at but in the end only mediocre TV-entertainment.
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marc_copil28 April 2005
It's brilliant, all the characters are beautiful and you will never forget them, once you'll see the movie. Miranda Richardson has made an excellent Queen, she's just adorable when she plays hysterical, and I'm upset that my English it's not enough developed, so I could tell you more about it. And Alice is at the right age and look to be perfect, naive and willing to learn but not to be pushed too hard into it, I will associate her face and looks with Lewis Carroll's Alice forever. The images in the movie, it's a complete fairy tale, but exiting enough for adult's too. If you forget about the childhood and the your playground this movie will remind you the days when every one of us could be an Alice in Wonderland .I can draw a million pictures from this movie, it's full of frames which you just had to frame it and put it onto your wall, and obtain a perfect painting
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Some Issues but Still the Best Alice Movie
aimless-4624 November 2004
If you are reading this you are probably trying to decide if this 'Alice' adaptation is worth watching or you may have already watched it and are wondering about the reaction of other viewers.

It is the most faithful (to the book) adaptation so far (faint praise as most efforts might as well have been original screenplays) and the sets, special effects, make-up and Muppets are light-years better than what others have tried.

But all is not right with this version of 'Wonderland' so Carroll fans should not get their hopes up too high. The adaptation involves some subtraction and a lot of addition (or as the Mock Turtle would say some 'Ambition and Distraction'). Unfortunately what was added does not begin to compensate for what was left out, it only pads the running length.

They added three scenes from 'Through the Looking Glass'. Stuck between the 'Lobster Quadrille' and the 'Who Stole the Tarts' chapters are: 'Tweedledum and Tweedledee', 'The Walrus and The Carpenter', and 'It's My Own Invention' with the White Knight. So the original story takes a not very entertaining detour-although the Walrus-Carpenter bits are fun and it is interesting to see a pre-Hagrid Robbie Coltrane as Tweedledum. Fortunately they group the three scenes together and it is not as disruptive as placing them separately at different points in the story.

Historically, the model for the characters are the illustrations that Carroll commissioned John Tenniel to carve on wood blocks. Although Carroll based the personality of his title character on ten-year-old brunette Alice Liddell, Tenniel (with Carroll's concurrence) used another model and gave the illustrated Alice her features and her long blonde hair. Although the movie generally deferred to Tenniel's illustrations, they made a critical error in casting Tina Majorino as Alice. She was 13-14 during the filming and looks ludicrous in the role. She was also quite homely at that age and you are thankful that the director used mostly wide shots so you don't have her face filling the screen. Thankfully her acting is so flat that she does not call much attention to herself. But the overall effect would have been so much better if they had used a younger actress (could they have made it three years earlier and used a 10-11 year-old Kiera Knightley).

The movie works in spite of a poor Alice, in large part because of the other major deviation from the Tenniel look. That would be casting Miranda Richardson as the Queen of Hearts. Instead of a fat and ugly queen we get a delicately beautiful one, and a hauntingly over-the-top performance. But it works because the performance is consistent with Carroll's idea of the queen as: 'a sort of embodiment of ungovernable passion-a blind and aimless Fury'.

And in her surreal make-up you can't take your eyes off Richardson (you literally focus on her face and see nothing else that is in the frame). Her performance was so inspired that she has been playing fairy tale queens ever since.

All the Muppet characters are excellent but for some reason they made Bill the Lizard a man instead of a muppet lizard. Did the producer owe someone a favor? Bill's scene at the Rabbits's House is the third best in the movie; only the croquet match and the trial are better.

And they messed with Carroll's dialogue for no useful purpose or discernible logic. For example they kept all the 'Mock Turtle's' puns, which are hard to follow even in print, while deleting some of the best lines from Alice's scene with the 'Cheshire Cat'; and the tea-party dialogue (and editing) is a shambles. You can't always tell when an original line was omitted but you can tell when something was added by the hack they hired to do the adaptation-all are stupid and some so modern that they are like hearing an off-key note on a flute.

Carroll's dialogue and Alice's thoughts are really the essence of the story.

Someday a director will shoot this thing with mega-reaction shots of Alice (played by a pleasing looking 'young' actress) and with voiceovers of her thoughts-then we will have something that really communicates Alice's curiosity, courage, kindness, intelligence, dignity, and sense of justice. Most important is to communicate her simple wonder (the only wonder about Majorino is how she got the role). The reader was meant to identify with these qualities but only Disney's Alice effectively exhibited them. It's sad when it is easier to identify with the book and with a cartoon Alice than with any of the actresses who have played the role.

Although some part of each chapter is included (Down the Rabbit-Hole, The Pool of Tears, The Caucus-Race, Little Bill, Advice from a Caterpillar, Pig and Pepper, A Mad Tea-Party, The Queen's Croquet-Ground, The Mock Turtle's Story, The Lobster Quadrille, Who Stole the Tarts, and Alice's Evidence), the bookend pieces of the story where Alice is not dreaming are missing. Instead there is a 'Wizard of Oz' kind of scene with the actors out of costume, playing guests at a garden party. This is done entirely to tie in with the writer's annoying artless addition of a preachy "the show must go on" theme which works to deflate each scene in which it is inserted.

This is the only unforgivable change to the story. Wonderland was not a process of self-discovery or personal development, it was a gift to the real Alice (and to future children) and should always end with the thoughts of Alice's older sister after hearing the details of the dream: 'Lastly, she pictured to herself how this same little sister of hers would, in the after-time, be herself a grown woman, and how she would keep, through all the years, the simple and loving heart of her childhood; and how she would gather about her other little children, and make their eyes bright and eager with many a strange tale, perhaps even with the dream of Wonderland of long ago; and how she would feel with all their simple sorrows, and find a pleasure in all their simple joys, remembering her own child-life, and the happy summer days'. This is Carroll telling us why he made up the story.

Bottom line it is the best of the Alice films, a little too long but still worth watching-especially for the Miranda Richardson scenes.
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Best-done version of a well-loved story
DM7DragonFyre4 April 2004
I, like most of the rest of you, grew up with the story of Alice In Wonderland- but what I knew was from the Disney story. I never really liked it, but after seeing Hallmark's representation, I decided that Disney completely ruined the book.

Hallmark's costume designer apparently took a look at the sketches that are commonly associated with the story. In fact, the book of Alice In Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass that I have from England has these sketches in them, and comparing the costumes to the actual drawings shows very little difference minus color, movement, and the addition of the third dimension. Being a person who tends to favor pretty over plot in movies, the animatronic puppets (such as the griffin, the flowers, and the flamingo-croquet) and other visuals made a very fun and entertaining veiwing


As for the acting, it is obvious that there is a rather star-studded cast. Martin Short is probably the best I've ever seen him as the Mad Hatter. Sure, he is insane- but he's called a "mad" hatter for a reason. It is very interesting to see the man known for playing ghandi in a large caterpillar suit playing what is commonly known to be the trippiest character in the book. Also, frankly, the queen of hearts in the disney version terrified me as a girl (as well as tweedle dee and tweedle dum), but here they seem less harmful- but they still embody the insanity which basically prevails in the story. Personally I think the "bratty little girl" version of hte queen is a much better take on that character. It makes Alice's maturity over the course of the story more reasonable.

Speaking of story, nobody ever said that Carroll's stories made THAT much sense. So that can't exactly be argued.

Over all- I think its a must see if you've ever enjoyed the stories of Alice.
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claire51-223 April 2000
I have seen the film it was shown over the easter weekend here and it's great i have seen many of the different versions when I was a child but this one is great the puppets and special effects in just two hours they managed to get two books in and it wasn't that much different to the version made in the 1970's except that one was musical,but it's just the same except for the new bits added on to the story.
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Passive Alice takes Dull Journey through Stunning Wonderland
hatta1 March 1999
The production team that brought us a stunning "Odyssey" and thought-provoking "Gulliver's Travels" misses the boat on this, another in a long line of disappointing adaptations of Lewis Carroll's beloved and revered "Alice" books. Stunning visual effects vividly creating a phantasmagorical dreamworld unfettered by the laws of physics, and some excellent casting, notably Martin Short as the Mad Hatter and Whoopi Goldberg as the Cheshire Cat, cannot compensate for a poor script and a passive Alice, who in this version, escapes to Wonderland because she lacks the self-confidence to sing at her parents' garden-party.

Carroll's Alice is nothing if not confident; she is also obstinate, precocious, and more than willing to argue fiercely with virtually every character she meets. These confrontations between the logical, rational Alice and the nonsensical, irritable denizens of Wonderland are the source of much of the book's humor, which is sadly lacking in this screenplay. The rich wordplay of the book, in which language is indeed literal, and only nonsense makes sense, is reduced to a stream of non-sequiturs. Carroll's book is filled with conversations, why didn't the writers make use of it? Indeed, one wonders if they even read the book at all. In this film, Carroll's feisty Alice is portrayed as an amiable Dorothy Gale, who must learn to believe in herself before she can return home. At three hours, it is a long, tedious journey.
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A very good adaptation of the novel
haikus75320 February 2013
This movie is very good. It is a very enjoyable movie (or miniseries, as some call it), and is a pretty faithful adaptation of the original book by Lewis Carroll. This movie has its flaws, though. For example, the movie somewhat revolves around Alice having to gain confidence in herself through her adventures in wonderland so that she can sing the song "Cherry Ripe" in front of an audience at a garden party (she must sing at the garden party in the real world, not wonderland). While this is not a huge mistake, I would have preferred if it had stuck to the original novel's version, where Alice is sitting by a riverbank with her sister (in the real world). No sweat, none of that was a spoiler. Anyway, that was one of the only few flaws this movie had, in my opinion. That being said, the rest of this film is wonderful. The acting is great, although a bit over the top sometimes (but, hey, it's Alice in Wonderland!), and the special effects are very nicely done, especially for a 1999 TV movie. The story is very good, and just as mentioned, is for the most part faithful to the book. Tina Majorino makes a splendid Alice, I believe. The rest of the cast was great, too. The music was also good. Overall, this is an excellent film that, although it has some flaws, is still very entertaining to watch. 8/10 stars
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Curiouser and Curiouser Cried Alice !
johnmbale18 June 2006
What could have been a magic Alice using the formula of top Stars in the cameo roles as in the 1933 version, is dulled by excessive length and an unnecessary sub plot, concerning Alice's shyness in performing a song for a family gathering.

Also combining scenes from Through the Looking Glass while pleasant in themselves, extends the running time, and the pedestrian pace of the film. Sure there are some magic moments, and fortunately the designers have called upon Sir John Tenniel's illustrations for their characters, and the dialog when it is from Lewis Carroll's text is happily nonsense. It is bits that are not by Carroll that detract sadly.

It could have been much better, and even Tina Majorino doesn't make an especially attractive Alice. Perhaps re-editing it down to about 90 minutes would make it a winner, but we'll never know. A pity because some of the segments are very good indeed, with guests like Whoopy Goldberg, Martin Short, Ben Kingsley, Miranda Richardson, Peter Ustinov, and Pete Postlethwaite enjoying themselves immensely
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Good visuals, but American accents spoil it at times.
FlorisV24 July 2003
Visually the film is done beautifully overall. The script is alright, with a few nice jokes thrown in and some songs.

As for the acting, I can sum it up as follows:

Tina Majorino - Alice. I thought she was English at first but later I read this young actress is American. Well done, with the accent, the mimicry and she can sing too. She may not look much like the classic pictures of Alice but at least she's not blonde!

Whoopi Goldberg - The Cheshire Cat. Odd choice, considering Jim Henson's creature shop could have easily made a cool animatronics cat, and I always imagined The Cheshire Cat as a male. She does have the fat grin though.

Miranda Richardson - The Queen of Hearts. She seems to like doing weird voices. I had to get used to her interpretation of Queen Mab in Merlin, but I actually got fond of that role. Her Queen is quite a hysterical one, screaming "off with their heads" with an awfully high voice. I would have liked a darker Queen with a less "comic" personality but here they obviously chose for as much surreal humour as possible.

Martin Short - The Mad Hatter. My favorite! This guy is great! He looks so funny with his small body and big head with the mad hat. Best performance of the film.

Ben Kingsley - The Caterpillar. I imagined the Caterpillar differently, more of an intellectual smug. I thought Kingsley's performance was a bit bland.

Christopher Lloyd - The White Knight. After Martin Short he was the best. I've never disliked him in any movie and here he's just as goofy and clumsy as ever. In a league of his own.

Robbie Coltrane - Tweedledum. Great casting choice! He IS tweedledum with the funny larger-than-life outfit. Perfect actor for light, slightly absurd comic roles as this one. George Wendt - Tweedledee. He speaks with an American accent here, shame, shame, shame!! I like him in other movies,but here I think the director should have instructed him better because obviously he didn't care about the accents, which I find odd since the story has so much focus on language.

Gene Wilder - The Mock Turtle. Also an American accent! Such a shame, however, Wilder does compensate this with his natural charm and singing ability.

Pete Postlewaithe - The Carpenter. A very small role, a good actor like him would have deserved some more dialogue.

Peter Ustinov - The Walrus. He's alright, just another good performance from this versatile personality.

The film was definitely not dull but it was too long. I would have liked a bit more pace overall and I think it was the songs that slowed it down. Also, it was a bit too true to the novels at times. I respect the novels as classics but only really like them for introducing such wacky and colorful characters and for it's creative use of the English language. As a story, it's obvious that it's not much of a whole, more like packed-together small little tales without clear beginnings and endings. I think the books are not much of a parable as they could have been. They're just too silly most of the time. Which is fine, but causes a lack of "deeper" meaning.

Of all Alice incarnations, I adore American McGee's Alice the most, by far. Yes, it's a computer game. So what? It simply has the best designs, the best story and the most pace! I really still hope they'll make a movie of it.

Overall this TV film was ok but not as good as Gulliver's Travels or Merlin.

7 out of 10.
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Lets get BIG....
goldies9710 January 2007
Alice in Wonderland. (1999) Jim Henson's Creature Shop and Hallmark followed up the first rate Gulliver's Travels and Merlin with this TV version comprised of Lewis Carrol's Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass. Any weaknesses in this production are not in the visual department. Alice has never looked this good at any time in history. Full of eye-catching color and splendid visual effects including the strikingly effective warping of several actors to make them appear cartoonish, while still retaining their facial features. Martin Short becomes the mad hatter while Whoopi Goldberg and her big pearly whites get turned into the wide-smiling Cheshire cat. Excellent stuff! All of this visual pleasure is preserved on DVD nicely (and cheaply).

Now, there are some soft, mushy spots on this otherwise firm & meaty mushroom. The all star cast comes off as hit or miss. Alice is played very well by the young girl from Kevin Cosner's Waterworld Tina Majorino. She even looks a bit like the famous illustrations from Carroll's book and is capable of pulling off some very animated facial expressions just perfect for this. The Alice role is the most important and I believe they filled it with a competent young actress. The most talked about had to be Martin Short, and he is excellent! The mad hatter tea party has always been my favorite part of the material, book or movie, and it's very well represented here by Short and a couple of very well done animated Henson characters. The march hare is of special note, an excellent effect! I just read on that the Alice actress was afraid of the thing. Heh! Miranda Richardson of Black Adder and Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow fame plays the Queen of Hearts role with an insanity above and beyond what was needed. I prefer a more restrained method since that gives it a real world edge while hopefully retaining the insane satire. But Richardson is fun to watch and her makeup is splendid. As for Whoopi Goldberg, all you can do is scratch your head and wonder how they turned her into a kitty cat. Her teeth were sure perfect for the character and that little cat body with her head on it is a trip! I like Whoopi in this. The rest of the cast range from memorable (Gene Wilder as the mock turtle) to lazy and forgettable (sorry George Wendt, your Tweedledee is beneath Robbie Coltrane's Tweedledum). Many actors just needed to inject more energy like Short, Goldberg and Richardson were doing. But nothing railroads this fine production. It's one of my favorite versions and well worth the cost and running time. In fact, I recommend all of the Henson productions mentioned in this review as well as the Henson TV show called The Storyteller. Top quality TV that doesn't get mentioned enough on the net. It's all available cheaply. 8/10
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Pulling In at a Strong Second
oscarhopkins2 October 2005
This is a truly amazing film version of Alice. It is the single best version for sticking to the text, and it sports the best-looking tea party ever.

The Henson creatures (particularly W. Rabbit) are shaky at times, and this does detract a little, but the amazing talents involved here more than make up for it. Gene Wilder's Mock Turtle was without equal. Unmitigated joy.

Still, at two hours, ten minutes, the film does have some drag and lag. Is this a result of the transition? Perhaps and perhaps not. The inserted plot this time (there's always one in Alice films) is that Alice has trouble being in front of people and speaking/performing in public. Very odd choice, that. But it only interferes at a few points in the film, and mostly the characters and situations go swimmingly.

Pulling up second to Disney why? Two reasons: exposure (the Disney's been around a long, long time) and Whoopi Goldberg. How can anyone be totally dull and get to play both death incarnate (Monkeybone) and the Cheshire Cat? I don't get it.
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A decent adaptation, wonderful film.
bullfrogger13 March 2004
Being a big fan of the books and the author's work, I have seen most of the film adaptations made of the Alice books (and yes, there were two), and this is one of the better adaptations, and certainly a wonderful film.

Filled with famous faces and some wonderful sets, it may not be 100% like the book, but I won't have a word against this film anyway. The writers make the same mistake of mixing the two books together (understandable), and throw in a few new morals and themes (stage fright, mostly), but it's still great. Folks like Gene Wilder, Pete Postlethwaite, Christopher Lloyd, Robbie Coltrane, Whoopi Goldberg, Ben Kingsley, Martin Short and others make their own contribution to this magical TV production.

The whole thing was an honest live action work that made a decent effort to correct what Disney messed up. Now, be fair, the animation was wonderful (very), but a terrible adaptation. So applaud yourselves, Halmi & Halmi (and everyone else, esp. Richard Hartley for music). You did a great job. And readers pick up a copy of the DVD, it's a great movie.
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held up well through several viewings
OpWo4521 December 2003
A visual feast that maintained most of my very favorite bits from the original Lewis Carroll books, (though not necessarily in sequence). I cannot imagine better casting (in 1999) highlighted by the superb performances of Gene Wilder as the Mock Turtle, Christopher Lloyd as the White Knight, Peter Ustinov as Walrus and Whoopi Goldberg as Cheshire Cat. Tina Majorino was absolutely believable as the unbelievable little girl Alice - won't she be something to watch as she grows up? My one complaint was a voice - while Miranda Richardson created the most wonderfully faithful Queen of Hearts, I would put a pillow to that "voice" if I had to live with it!

This version maintained not only my enjoyment through several viewings but that of my cinematically precocious 7 yr old son - (A fan who can already tell the difference between the effects of George Pal, Ray Harryhausen, Stan Winston, Buddy Baker... and who gets as excited by a big screen showing of The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston as Paul Verhoeven's Starship Troopers.

This is a DVD I'll be buying.
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One of NBC's best TV-Movies yet!!!
braknbeans26 February 2001
I must admit, every time NBC has one of their mini TV-movies, I do sit down and watch it, or at least give it a try--and most of the time I end up shutting the TV off and doing something else instead (with the exception of 'The 10th Kingdom' and 'Merlin.') Alice in Wonderland is one of those exceptions. I first saw the movie when it aired in February of 1999, and I must admit I liked it. But I never paid more attention to it then than I did when they re-aired it this past Christmas Eve. Alice in Wonderland delivers an all-star cast and beautiful special effects (for a TV movie, that is) that really catch the eye. Also, I thought the movie tends to stay closer to Caroll's original book than the Disney version did (although this version did mix 'Through the Looking Glass' in it, I still thought it was well done.) All star casts usually annoy me, but I believe they did a good job at the casting. Although I'm not a big fan of Whoopi Goldberg, and her as Cheshire Cat did look a bit silly, I did think she had the perfect grin to put on the character. Tina Majorino did a wonderful portrayal of Alice! I found her character to be very enjoyable, and well played out! Martin Short couldn't have been a more perfect Mad Hatter! He had the perfect voice, face and personality for the part! (I loved the song-and-dance routine he did in the scene!) But most of all, I was extremely happy to see Gene Wilder perform as the Mock Turtle. I'm a humongous fan of Willy Wonka, and watching him play a part that's just as whimsical was absolutely wonderful. The only problem I had with Alice in Wonderland was the unnecessary short length of the White Knight scene. Although he's a talented actor, it seemed like they just stuck Christopher Lloyd in there shortly so they could have another all-star cast member to speak of. Although this movie sometimes strays from the book, which movie doesn't just a little? I thank NBC for making this version of this nonsensical yet wonderful tale. It's because of this movie that I am planning to read 'Alice in Wonderland' AND 'Through the Looking Glass' ASAP!
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Good interpretation of the story
Janoth2 February 2001
The film is the best representation of the story of "Alice in Wonderland" I have seen. The effects in the film are pretty good (for the time the film was made in).

The story is about a young girl that enters a dreamworld where she learns to be courageous... well... she learns that she does not have to be scared to sing in front of a lot of people.
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Great movie!
haruka221 March 2000
It was a good movie. Alot better than the old ones. I thought it was kind of like Labyrinth.

The Mad Hatter was the greatest character yet. He's the best of all the characters in the movie. I originally saw the 1951 version and I didn't think it was very good. The Tv version was excellent. I give it a 11!
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A layman's view of an enjoyable movie.
Welshmun14 August 1999
My wife and I watched Alice In Wonderland 1999 (TV movie) on Foxtel last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. I agree with others that it's not quite true to the story but close enough for us. Yes, the professional celebrities in the cast played a significant part; I was trying to figure out how I recognised Whoopi Goldberg just from the Cheshire cat's smile. Excellent.
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While lacking in the original storyline, NBC makes up for it with excellent cast of actors/actresses and special effects
wroffer28 February 1999
While returning with their own brand of special effects and colorful cast of actors and actresses, NBC was not able to match up with their previous movie, Merlin. While incorporating Alice and Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, NBC slightly ruins the original storyline by meshing Wonderland and the Looking Glass by bringing some scenes from the Looking Glass before Wonderland and vice versa, rather than staying with the original story of Wonderland followed by Through the Looking Glass. Additionally, while NBC did one of the best jobs incorporating many (almost all) scenes portrayed in the book, they did leave out some significant ones. All in all, I thought NBC's special effects and use of so many wonderful actors and actresses saved this movie.
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A mixed bag
ericstevenson17 October 2016
I wouldn't recommend this version, but I wouldn't say I hate it either. I guess it was just mediocre. I guess the good technically outweighed the bad. The reason I saw this was because it was the longest film version of "Alice In Wonderland". It was weird, because I was expecting this big epic movie. Of course, the Tim Burton movie version and its sequel didn't do it very well. I think this is probably better than those. It seems to capture the spirit of the book more. I really should get around to reading the book.

I believe I've seen every movie version of it now and I can easily say the Disney version is the best one. One fault with this movie was how it was, well, too long. It's not a complicated story and it just seems to go on too long. I guess that might be justified in adapting a book, but other versions have done it better. The puppets are pretty good. I am really freaked out by Whoopi Goldberg as the Cheshire cat. She looks really scary looking and that's actually probably the worst thing about the movie! Still, it's great to see such a cast of talented actors. I found out this was Gene Wilder's last movie and may he rest in peace. **1/2
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