My ‘films in the 70’s’ class taught me a lot about both of the mandatory benefits and long-term caveats that came with Blaxploitation and yet “Alice” and its complete lack of self-awareness doesn’t lean into either category. It just nearly edges tolerable status.
As an archetypical slavery story mixed with Blaxploitation meets The Village laced with Coffy and chained to Django UNChained, the fact that this was loosely based on Black Americans who were still enslaved as late as 1963 meant this plotline was always going to be called out for its implausibility and lack of logic but that is the least of this films worries. Characterization is either sparse or often at odds with itself thanks to the script not fleshing out any of them, it struggles to balance the two genres of a slave drama and blaxploitation; along with other themes like independence and such that drop out as quickly as they appear, dialogue is amateur, atmosphere is harrowingly absent, most of the performances are reduced to sleep-walking and even Krystin Ver Lindin’s direction, as well intended as it is, hardly emphasizes much importance about the beyond its concept that rarely if ever, yielded rewarding results in the past.
Sure, Krystin has a lot less trouble getting to and working around the big twist and unlike Antebellum, doesn't drown its subject matter in abject misery but that focus quickly gets lost in the midst of a story that stick to its guns without playing it aggressively safe, even for slave movie standards. However, I’m tempted to say the pacing is more at fault then the narrative we were given because with a few extra minutes or better tuning, this could’ve been an interesting story to see fleshed out. But once the main twist of the movie was revealed, it falls directly into the pitfalls you think it’s going to go and similar to We Summon The Darkness, hinging the entire foundation of the film on this one twist didn’t seem to even matter in the end.
It seemed to be setting up for a big finale that ultimately is rushed and then the movie just ends with hardly any fanfare. Either cut the opening prologue by half of the time or extend the film a few more minutes so you don’t have to rush things; it shouldn’t be that hard.
Only overwhelming positives I could think of is Keke Palmer acting her ass off albeit a little too hard, and the decent if not inoffensive cinematography and editing. Again, hearts in the right place but with everything working against it? That’s a ‘No’ for me, sucka.