See It or Free It: 'Once Upon a Time in Wonderland'

Where “Once Upon a Time” is quirky, “…Wonderland” is simply bizarre. The show is so out there that a better title would’ve been “Once Upon a Time on an Acid Trip”. The imagery is mind-bendingly wacky and so distractive that getting to the heart of the story seems a hectic impossibility.

The visual hindrances to the narrative are similar to the challenges faced by the 2011 film “Sucker Punch” which dealt with a similar theme, an institutionalized young woman who has one foot in an alternate universe.

It’s wonderful to see an enchanted or fantastical world brought to the screen. However, when the scenery oversteps the story it’s trying to tell, that’s a problem. Plus, you should be warned that the trippy nature of the show poses the hazard of haunting you in the midst of a bad ailment.

The cast is strong in some choices and not so much in others. Sophie Lowe (“Adore”) is alright as Alice but her performance swings from that of intense strength and a mousy impishness that contradicts her earlier characterization.

The real surprise is English import Michael Socha, who is really impressive in the role of Knave of Hearts. He demonstrates a captivating presence, equal parts humorous and dramatic. He shows promise. John Lithgow gives a strong vocal performance as The White Rabbit. Peter Gadiot is endearing as Cyrus, the object of Alice’s affection. The other performances are middling at best.

See It or Free It: Free It, wanting to like it and liking it are two very different things. The “Once” franchise seems to be an attempt to do an undercover “Lost” cast reunion and not much else.

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