Thursday, 7 January 2010

Mini Reviews - Adolescent issue

'The Lovely Bones'

Peter Jackson was always going to have a very hard time adapting Alice Sebolds wonderful novel. The story of a young girl murdered and watching her family survive in the aftermath (from Purgatory of all places) was always going to be tough to capture on the big screen.

Yet he almost manages to pull it off.

Sure the heaven sequences are a bit day glow, but this is a 14 year old girls idea of what heaven would be, so it is kind of spot on.
Where it stumbles is in the sequences showing the family grieving, investigating and moving on after Susies' (Saoirse Ronan) death.
In the book it was all told from Susies' vantage point, in the film it is a separate entity which takes away from the emotional connection between the two worlds.

The cast varies, with Saoirse Ronan as the stand out. Her performance is what keeps the film going. In her one scene with Stanley Tucci she breaks your heart, you fear for her and pray she is ok even knowing the outcome.
She plays Susie as a 14 year old girl, all gangly and nervous with that pretend bravado that crumbles easily. An astonishingly real performance.
However Stanley Tucci, with all his 'bad guy' styling and ticks never fully grasps Mr Harvey, Susies killer. He acts so suspicious you wonder why he isn't suspect number 1 from the starting point.

A lovely little film that packs an emotional punch, but should have soared.

Grade - B

'Where the Wild Things Are'

Not what I expected, but completely enjoyable. Being a kid is hard, especially being Max. He has tantrums, demands attention and is a bit of a brat. You just want to smack him.
When he runs away from home and ends up in the land of the Wild Things, big menacing creatures he blags his way into becoming their king.

The Wild Things are scary (to kids at least), and they each have very distinctive personalities, echoing Max himself. Carol (a wonderful and vulnerable James Gandolfini) is the temper, and at first the closest aid to Max, while Judith is his negativity and Alexander is his insecurity (or perhaps that is going a little too deep for me).

What makes the film work is it is never fully becomes a children's film, cutesy and easy. It is complex and emotional, after all it is about an extremely selfish little boy who needs to grow up.

The performance of Max Records as Max is outstanding, but the real stars are the combination of exceptional voice work (Lauren Ambrose as the wise KW shines), wonderful costumes and subtle CGI for the facial expressions.
These Wild Things have soul.

Grade - B+


Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

It's weird, because I definitely believe that it's from Susie's perspective [that's why I think Tucci is so "mean", why Weisz we understand "little"]. Still it's not perfect, but Ronan is wonderful. You're right about that scene. I didn't expect to, but I was holding my breath for her.

Afrika said...

I have no intentions of seeing The Lovely Bones. Looking at the reviews, I now know I am making the right choice.

I wasn't as impressed with Where the wild everybody else was. To me, it really dragged on and half way through the movie I could predict what was going to happen. The music, however, was impeccable.