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Jack Black's films always feature his refusal to grow old gracefully, a certain sense of immaturity and childhood left with his roles. Black starring as Gulliver in a modern take on Jonathan Swift's novel Gulliver's Travels looked quite impressive in many ways, but I was concerned about how this would transfer onto the screen, the novel being rather a classic.
The modern take starts off with Gulliver working in a mail room. When he plagiraises Time Out in the hopes of impressing travel editor Darcy Silverman on whom he has a crush, he finds himself sent to an unchartered area in the seas, The Bermuda Triangle. Washing on the shore of a strange island, he is captured by the Lilliputians, tiny people who call him The Beast and keep him captive. However, it's not long before his size shows him to be a useful ally in their war against the neighbouring foes.
The one thing that often eludes comedy films is a decent plot to keep things going. Basing this on a classic and well known and loved tale has had its benefits, with a solid story already in place. I'd have to say that it is rather loosely based on the book, with someone named Gulliver being in the land of little people acting as pretty much the only similarity, but as this is the crux of the original tale, it works rather well.
Black refuses to change his personality for the role, retaining some of the cool and youthful elements of his other films. It's somewhat predictable, but he leaves the annoying element of some of his performances at the door, the film most certainly a comedy but keeping him on a leash and allowing other comedy actors to have a go. The cast is an impressive one, made up mainly of well known British stars. Billy Connolly, Catherine Tate, James Corden, Emily Blunt and Chris O'Dowd, while Jason Segel and Amanda Peet join Black as American representatives. The cast works very well on the whole, with some tongue in cheek jokes and the usual awkwardness from Segel that many of his movies have seen from him.
The most impressive part is how they do the filming with Gulliver as a giant and the rest as tiny people. The special effects and film timing is excellent, to the point where I actually forgot that this is not in the realms of possibility and must have been altered. You just don't find it affects your viewing. The cast are always looking in the right place, etc, and it works very well. The action scenes and score also add to the enjoyment, and the director makes sure that the pace is fast enough that you never get bored and the plot doesn't get stagnant in any way.
The comedy elements can't help but refer to certain things, and Star Wars, modern music, Guitar Hero and other similar things all get plenty of references. I enjoyed how this played out, as it was not overdone, and although the film is not a marvel in any way, shape or form, it's certainly an enjoyable hour and a half of a comedy, and provides an interesting take on a classic novel. Well worth a watch, and even if Jack Black is not your thing, his usual over the top nature is somewhat pacified and this is an enjoyable action comedy.
Jack Black is a little bit like Marmite, you either love him or hate him. Regardless of which, given the range of films the guy has made over the past ten years and the persistent presence he seems to have at the box office, usually towards the higher ends , he simply cannot be ignored. A lot of his work has been very hit and miss with Black seeming to go for quantity over quality. No one can blame him, gaining maximum exposure whilst his star shines brightest and indeed his latest movie, a spoof tongue in cheek version of the classic Jonathan Swift tale, Gullivers Travels, happens to be one of his finest movies.
In actual fact there is a lot of imagination behind this remake the basic plot line paints a great twist on the original tale. In fact all that remains from Swift's novel is the idea of a "giant" landing at Lilliput. The rest takes off on its own course and this adds some value to proceedings. From start to finish the movie works along at a solid pace and keeps the viewer entangled and the plot ties the comedy nicely together which often comedies can fail at doing. I am not for one minute stating that the comedy genre should put plot and pace over jokes and gags but the movie can be made a whole round better experience if it is done in this fashion and Gullivers Travels does just that!
Suffice to say that this is a gag packed version of a tale everybody is familiar with. From the moment it starts with Black being nothing more than a mail room executive chasing dreams of dating the travel writer to the finale on the island of Lilliput the gags keep on coming. Obviously, with the movie being based around Black being a huge giant to the people of Lilliput there are a lot of visual gags. At times there are moments of toilet humour but there are a heck of a lot of cultural references, witty dialogue and clever word play that add to the movies appeal.
This is not a movie in which Black just goofs around, its more than that, much more. It's a solid, tight script with Black's "goofie" side reigned in almost fully. The Star Wars and kiss references are the only moment he may seem different, and there are many references to Star Wars! But generally people of all ages and backgrounds will find this funny to some extent.
The movie looks great on the big screen and credit must go to the SFX team for making it look so darn believable. How it was done I do not know but the team deserve credit for the effects.
With a strong supporting cast including Billy Connolly, Catherine Tate and James Corden the laughs come aplenty and this a movie all will enjoy!
If you hate Jack Black, put it to one side and enjoy a good modern comedy!
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