Many things changed since Alice visited the first Wonderland…
There are millions of people around the globe that are fed up with the way things are going in this world. What if they had the chance to unite in a virtual nation and were offered the opportunity to make a difference…?
(Mild spoilers follow…)
This movie, directed by the two fairly inexperienced but obviously over-ambitious and talented French filmmakers Nicolas Alberny & Jean Mach, quite possibly has the most original and avant-garde screenplay that I’ve seen in many years. It’s also another proof that you don’t need a lot of money in order to make a film that is captivating and groundbreaking. 8th Wonderland clearly cost next to nothing, but witty satirical ideas and superbly drawn characterizations don’t require a large budget; just an intelligent and versatile crew and an enthusiast ensemble cast.
The concept of 8th Wonderland is simultaneously simple and genius. The title refers to the very first virtual nation in which people of all nationalities, religions and cultures unite in chat rooms to debate and vote on how they could improve ruling the outside world. And this time the members – citizens, if you will – of 8th Wonderland aren’t loud-mouthed geeks hiding safely behind their computers, but devoted and resourceful academics that put their words into deeds as well. On a weekly basis, the citizens of 8th Wonderland democratically vote on an initiative during a referendum and subsequently appoint someone to execute the agreed actions. Whether it concerns placing condom vending machines in the Vatican, abduct world class soccer players to have them fabricate their own shoes amidst child laborers or boycotting the nuclear energy negotiations between Russia and Iran, the initiatives of 8th Wonderland always make the world press and the virtual nation becomes immeasurably popular very fast. Parallel with the success, inevitably the first obstacles and issues arise as well. Frauds declaring themselves the mastermind behind 8th Wonderland, the safeguarding of loyal members after they risked their lives, dealing with the public opinion in case of false advertising or unpopular initiatives or feeling the burning breath of hunting FBI services in their neck.
8th Wonderland definitely isn’t an adrenalin-rushing thriller (most of the time it’s just people talking straight into the camera, like they are in chat rooms) but it’s nevertheless a compelling and politically engaging cinematic experiment that deserves all the praise and recommendation it can get! The characters are identifiable, the depiction of the media and public opinions are accurate and precise and the dialogs are stupendously written. Some of the discussed initiatives of the 8th Wonderland committee appear to be far-fetched and impossible to carry out, but there’s always a logical clarification of what they do and a plausible breakdown of how they do it.
The credibility of 8th Wonderland largely relies on small but important and punctilious details, like for example the chatters occasionally mixing in words and swearing of their own native language, authentic news bulletin images and reports and members deciding to leave the group out of fear for retribution. The ensemble cast is marvelous and the computer engineered effects (for example, the illustration of a virtual chatting circle) are reasonably impressive; especially for computer illiterates like myself. Recommended in case you’re on the lookout for something entirely new, refreshing and creative.