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The beauty of owning a miniseries such as ALICE IN WONDERLAND ($20) on DVD is that fact that the film can be enjoyed in a single sitting without the viewer being subjected to bothersome commercials. This lavish adaptation of the classic Lewis Carroll story comes from the same production team responsible for both the GULLIVER'S TRAVELS and MERLIN miniseries. It seems that no expense has been spared to make this production the definitive television version of ALICE IN WONDERLAND. The all star cast is completely captivating, while the CGI effects are first rate and Jim Henson's Creature Shop is responsible for the miniseries' spectacular animatronic characters.

The plot of this classic story concerns a young girl named Alice (Tina Majorino), who has to sing a song for her parent's friends at a garden party. Of course, Alice is nervous about giving the performance and is looking for a way out. Alice's exit from singing comes in the form of a rabbit hole, through which she follows a large white rabbit. Unfortunately, going into the rabbit hole causes Alice to fall into an even deeper hole that drops her into a strange land where nothing makes sense.

As Alice explores her new surroundings, meets a number bizarre creatures, as well as a number of even more bizarre people. From every strange encounter, Alice gains a bit of wisdom that finally makes her realize that she should return home because she can't hide from their problems. The first rate cast of ALICE IN WONDERLAND features Martin Short as the Mad Hatter, Whoopi Goldberg as the Cheshire Cat, Miranda Richardson as the Queen of Hearts, Christopher Lloyd as the White Knight, Gene Wilder as the Mock Turtle, Peter Ustinov as the Walrus, Ben Kingsley as Major Caterpillar, Robbie Coltrane as Tweedledum and George Wendt as Tweedledee. While all the players are delightful as the strange inhabitants of Wonderland, Martin Short steals the show with his interpretation of the Mad Hatter.

ALICE IN WONDERLAND comes to DVD via Artisan Entertainment and Hallmark Home Entertainment. Since ALICE IN WONDERLAND was created for television, it is presented in the standard television ratio. This presentation is actually superior to the film's original broadcast, since DVD delivers a higher resolution image than one gets over the airwaves. The image is sharp and very nicely detailed, with excellent color saturation. There are moments where the intensity of the hues could have been problematic, however the DVD reproduced them without any evidence of chroma noise or bleeding. The use of dual layer technology allowed for lower MPEG-2 compression therefore precluding any noticeable artifacts within the image.

Since the sound mix is obviously designed for television broadcast, the Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack provides only standard surround. As you might expect, the soundtrack delivers clean dialogue and lots of nice ambient sounds, as well as occasional directional effects. Additionally, the musical component is well integrated into the mix. The are no other language soundtracks or subtitles provided on the DVD. The interactive menus are somewhat animated and have a pleasant thematic design. Through the menus one can access the scene selection feature (with full motion previews), as well as a trailer, classic illustrations of the story, production notes and cast biographies.


Alice in Wonderland (1999)


DVD reviews are Copyright 1999 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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