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Wonderland (2003)

Though meant to counter the numerous falsities of Boogie Nights about John Holmes, Wonderland (2003) is a Rashomon narrative that presents two-and-a-half sides of the Wonderland murders, but it ends up being too myopic and never more than an interesting TV-movie deconstruction of a famous crime. The film follows the police investigation of the Wonderland murders, headed by Sam Nico (Ted Levine), as they investigate their only witness David Lind (Dylan McDermott) — whose girlfriend was murdered in the incident — and John Holmes (Val Kilmer) himself. Both have their versions: Lind's story sets up the framework for the crime in that Holmes was semi-friends with the habituates of the Wonderland Drive household, including Billy Deverall (Tim Blake Nelson) and Ron Lanius (Josh Lucas). Holmes sells the boys on hitting crime-boss Eddie Nash's (Eric Bogosian) home, which he says should be at least a million-dollar score. Lanius, Deverall, and Lind are successful at the robbery, but Nash's retribution was the Wonderland murders, in which the inhabitants of Deverall's home were beaten with steel pipes, leaving four dead and one in a coma. Lind figures Holmes sold the crew out to Nash while he was out of town. Meanwhile, John relays his side of the story to his cop friend Bill Ward (M.C. Gainey) — his version features the exact same results but paints the three criminals as the masterminds who sold Holmes out to Nash during the robbery. While it's obvious that writer/director James Cox is familiar with both the case history and Holmes' real life as little details are collected throughout, he never creates a narrative force to Wonderland, and it becomes more about plot than the characters, to the film's determent. The Wonderland case and its underpinnings are fascinating, but like a lot of films where the makers are too close to the material, it never opens itself up enough for people who haven't studied it. Lions Gate's DVD presents Wonderland in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) and both Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby 2.0 Surround audio. Extras include a commentary by Cox and screenwriter Captain Mauzner, the 1981 LAPD Crime Scene Video (23:39) — real footage of the Wonderland crime scene — four interviews with Val Kilmer (:55), Josh Lucas (1:33), Tim Blake Nelson (:51), and Eric Bogosian (1:20), seven deleted scenes (10:02) , "Court TV — Hollywood at Large" (5:44), a brief photo gallery, the film's trailer, a soundtrack promo, and a bonus trailer for Prey for Rock and Roll. Released as a limited edition, some purchasers will also receive a second disc containing the documentary Wadd: The Life and Times of John C. Holmes (1.45:16), which provides more insight into John Holmes than either Boogie Nights or Wonderland.
—DSH

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