Many have read C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and now even more people have seen it. There has been a BBC production in the 80s but they did not have the CGI power of WETA at their disposal to make this tale come alive. Aslan (spoken by Liam Neeson) is simply amazing and so are any and all fairy creatures in this movie.
The costumes are stunningly beautiful, too and everything is just … shiny; too shiny in fact. So shiny that the scenes emit sterility and suffocate any real emotion. Emotion wise the movie also suffers slightly under the crux of child actors such as Lucy who only have one expression on their face even when crying. It is understandable that Georgie Henley was swept away by all this and the work on set must have been overwhelming for her and it shows throughout the movie, esp. when she leans her head on the dead Aslan and cries.
I heard a lot of good things about “Madagascar” but I had my doubts though and rightly so. It’s all well made and such. The animation is cartoon like with enough details to make it look good. The characters are not too interesting and the two monkeys are the funniest of the bunch but they have next to no screen time. The penguins are the key element and the driving force that kicks the whole “break out” story in motion. Again they have next to no screen time. Instead we get the thumb sucking lion Alex (voice: Ben Stiller), the neurotic giraffe Melman, the manic-depressive zebra Marty (voice: Chris Rock) and the motherly hippo Gloria.
There are a few jokes and amusing scenes but not enough to make this a hilarious fun ride. Once you meet the lemurs and the lemurs meet the pansies the movie is practically over, were it not for the returning penguins.
Tim Burton’s “Corpse Bride” is loosely based on a Russian folktale where a soon to be groom unknowingly cites his marital vows to what seems to him like a wooden stick that looks like a hand reaching out of the ground. The wooden hand comes to life and a terrified Victor (Johnny Depp) finds himself in the clutches of a cursed corpse bride.
At the very beginning of the movie you already realize that you are in for a meticulously composed piece of art. From the sweeping of the broom to the wagging of the tail to the cutting of the fish everything moves in the rhythm of the clockwork opening theme composed by Danny Elfman. The musical score is not quite as memorable as in “Nightmare before Christmas” and more generic, yet it does have its grand moments, e.g. the “Corpse Bride” song.
Roman Polanski’s “Oliver Twist” is yet another stab at bringing DWEM classic literature to the big screen. Would Charles Dickens be happy with it? I highly doubt it. Polanski condensed Dickens’s novel from 1841 down to two characters: Fagin (Ben Kingsley) and Bill Sykes (Jamie Foreman).
We seldom hear more than “Yes, sir” from Oliver (Barney Clark) and the only development Oliver is going through is the journey of a poor educated orphan to a wealthy situated orphan. Fagin on the other hand undergoes a catharsis of a kind while Sykes is the stereotypical remorseless villain. Stuck in that web of thieves Oliver seems more like an extra througout the whole movie and only the Artful Dodger (Harry Eden) manages to stand out.
I had a “hunch” that this movie would be fun and indeed it was. From the “HOP 2 IT” license plate to “24 carrot gold bullets” to the fact that this movie “may contain nuts”, “Wallace and Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” is fun for the whole family without limitations (it is rated PG in some countries).
There are just too many carefully planted details and references to previous works to miss on first view that this alone is well worth a second and even third watch. It’s a “must have” on DVD, that is for sure.
The claymation is simply fantastic as we can expect from an Aardman production. It’s not all clay though and there is a fair amount of CGI but it integrates very well and is nicely done, in a fluffy way. Those of you who have seen previous Wallace and Gromit adventures will also recognize many of the tunes and cracking contraptions. New this time around is Wallace’s latest untested contraption, the “Mind-O-Matic”, which is going to be switched to “full suckage” for a little bit of “harmless” mind altering: “Veg bad … Veg baaaad … Veg baaaaaad …” should give you a rough idea of possible applications.