Citizens of a country with strict boarder controls . . . .
8th Wonderland, written and directed by Nicholas Alberny and Jean Mach, is a film full of good ideas executed rather poorly.
The title refers to the first online “country”, a place where residents discuss issues and vote democratically on what they can do to improve the state of the world. From good-natured pranks (e.g. putting condom machines in the Vatican) to darker and more dangerous endeavours, we see the country as it goes through a tumultuous, difficult period that most countries endure at one time or another. There’s also paranoia and indignation as one man steps forward to take credit for “his” country even though nobody knows who the hell he is.
Having heard Alberny and Mach speak at FabFest 2010, I must say that their movie embodies the phrase they were using with regards to the actions of 8th Wonderland, that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
The movie veers between the straight and the darkly humorous, almost teetering over the edge in one scene that makes the mistake of going too far in one direction and leaving you wondering just what in the hell the citizens of 8th Wonderland were playing at.
The script makes a lot of good points (about democracy, growing pains, communication, identity in the e-world, etc) but hits a lot of them home with a distinct lack of subtlety that spoils the messages being delivered.
Acting is okay from everyone (with Matthew Géczy being the standout as John McClane) but we’re stuck with the same dozen or so faces for the duration, a core group embodying a sample of the country’s many citizens. The directors had initially wanted every piece of dialogue spoken by a different face to show the range and number of people involved but this would have been impossible to follow on screen and so was dropped.
With nods to films as diverse as Fight Club, Die Hard, Aliens and Starship Troopers there is a decent amount here to keep film fans happy (keep your eyes on the scrolling news texts for some little gags) and the rendering of the electronic world is really quite well done but it’s just all lacking a certain finesse and balance that keeps it from being as good as it could have been. Not to mention the numerous plot holes. A brave effort though.