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Where The Wild Things Are (DVD)

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Genre: Children's DVDs / Theatrical Release: 2009 / To Be Announced / Director: Spike Jonze / Features of the DVD: PAL

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    Your dooyooMiles Miles

    18 Reviews
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      20.07.2012 11:02
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      A great kids film with a heart.

      I bought this a few weeks ago in Asda for £3. I was on a bit of a DVD buying spree and because this was so cheap and I love the book by Maurice Sendak I thought I would give it a go.

      If you don't know the picture book of the same name then read my review for it to give you a little bit more on an insight. I will just briefly detail the plot though, which centres around a young boy called Max who is making mischief at home. His mother sends him to bed with no dinner and he goes to him room. Quickly a wild forest and sea begin to grow out of his imagination and span across his room. Max, dressed in a wolf costume, decides to sail away to the land of the wild things. The land is filled with fearsome wild things but Max is fearless and soon, proving his bravery, becomes their King. After having what looks like a really fun rumpus Max leaves to go back home and finds his dinner waiting for him, still hot.

      There isn't a huge amount of storyline in the book so when I heard they had made it into an hour and a half film I was intrigued to see what they had added and how they had changed things. They have added a considerable amount to the plot to pad it out which I think is necessary but in doing so does not stay entirely faithful to the book or the message it projects.

      So the plot goes as follows. Max is a lonely boy with an over-active imagination. The beginning of the film is mostly him causing mischief, which culminates in his biting his mum. His mum shouts at him and Max runs out of the house scared all the way to a tiny pond where he finds a small boat. The pond soon unravels into an ocean which Max sails across to reach the land of the wild things. Upon disembarking he soon stumbles across a group of large and scary looking creatures. One of the wild things, Carol, is throwing a tantrum sparked by another wild thing leaving, K.W. Max tries to join in with the mayhem but soon finds the wild things looking angrily down at him. To get out of this situation Max convinces them that he is a King who is also magic and that his powers can help to calm the group and restore peace. Max is crowned king and soon after K.W returns and they have a wild rumpus in the forest.

      Max decides to build an enormous fort and puts Carol in charge of building it. K.W tries to bring her two owl friends to the fort and Carol is upset by the presence of these outsiders. Tension increases between the wild things, who battle for Max's affections and believe he treats them differently. Eventually Carol and K.W have an argument and K.W leaves. Eventually Max's secret, that he is not a king at all, is revealed and Carol is devastated. The arguments between the wild things help Max to realise what is going on at home and how he could alleviate the situation for his stressed out mother. He decides to travel back home, he cannot find Carol and so leaves him a token (a heart with a C inside made from twigs). Carol sees the token just before Max departs and runs to bid him farewell, they all begins to howl as Max sails away. Max returns home to find his dinner on the table, still hot, and his mother waiting for him.

      The plot is essentially the same, though they have created a narrative for the time that Max spends on the island which is far briefer in the picture book. I think this is fairly essential to make this film the length it is, though whether it stays true to the story is a slight bone of contention for me. I do think that they have extended the ideas present in the book and in some way captured many of the important elements.

      My only real issue is that because of the wild things being brown, and much of it being shot in the forest the predominant colour in the film is brown. In the book this is very much not the case, there are a whole selection of vibrant colours and I think this helps to create the dreamlike quality present in the book. That said, I did find the film enjoyable to watch and if I was using the book in school I would definitely accompany it with the film as I think it adds another interesting dimensions to an established and well loved story.

      A great film that cost me only £3 - I would recommend it if you love the book or if you've never heard of it.

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      28.11.2011 12:28
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      A real oddity of a kid's film - like the book, sure to stand the test of time.

      Like many of you I'm sure, Maurice Sendak's "Where The Wild Things Are" is part of my childhood wallpaper - peel back the layers stuck to the inside of my skull, beneath the old horror movie posters and Italia '90 stickers, and there, somewhere, will be those indelible, strangely peaceful monsters of Sendak's original book.

      I know I never owned a copy, but I recall it being one of the books being fought over in the reading corner at School when I was little - it was the book equivalent of the James Bond Aston Martin toy car with the ejector seat and the missiles. Then when I went to work at a Primary school years later, it was always "Where The Wild Things Are" the kids were scrapping over....

      I'd heard about a film adaptation, which I quickly forgot about, thinking the usual pessimistic thoughts about how much of a mess they were likely to make of another childhood classic. It's been over a month since I watched Spike Jonze's effort, and it's such a curious, affecting piece it won't quite go away - I've been straining to think of another "kid's" film it resembles, but it's pretty hard. In some ways, I think the film it resembles the most is the animated adaptation of Raymond Briggs' beloved "The Snowman".

      Sendak's original tale tells of a young boy called Max, who gets into so much mischief that he is sent to bed without any dinner. In his imagination, he sets off on an adventure across the sea to a strange forested land, where he encounters the wild things, a tribe of huge fierce monsters. Max proves himself to be the wildest thing of all and becomes their king, and after the "wild rumpus", he soon becomes lonely and heads back home to the comforts of his family life.

      One of the most impressive things about Jonze's adaptation is that he hasn't tried to pad out such a slim story into a massive feature length adventure - rather, he uses the original tale to inform a realistic portrayal of a lonely young boy who's imagination sometimes gets the better of him.
      The Wild Thing Max, played by newcomer Max Records, is initially caught in a scene of such alarming anger and vitality it's a bit of a shock - dressed in the book's famous wolf costume and followed by Jonze's handheld camera, he chases and wrestles the family dog which such ferocious abandon there's no doubt who the wild thing is here.

      These early scenes of Max's childhood are among the most effective of the film. Max is not an abused or neglected kid - it's just he's a bit lonely. His older sister is off out with her friends all the time, and his single mother (played warmly by Catherine Keener) loves him dearly, but has now reached the point in her life when she now wants some new male attention in her life.

      Some purists may be upset that the book's transmogrification of Max's bedroom into a jungle has been missed out, because it would certainly be within the realms of today's special effects, but it doesn't make too much of a difference.

      Once Max's journey has begun, he's off across the sea and winds up in a wintry woodland, not unlike one he might find at the bottom of his garden - into his imagination, and Max is limited by what he already knows. Apart from the woods, the strange land is bordered by cliffs and beaches that recall the forlorn shoreline of Lewis Carroll's Wonderland.

      Max encounters the Wild Things, huge lumbering creatures in the midst of smashing up their nests, led by the impetuous Carol, who is in a fury because his girlfriend-thing KW has left. Max tries to join in, and soon finds himself surrounded by a pack of looming, hungry-looking creatures threatening to eat him. Max is able to convince them he is actually a king, and after the "wild rumpus", tries to bring order and harmony to the desolate group of monsters.

      The creatures themselves are wonderful - I was initially put off by their "American" voices, but the vocal actors really bring the performances to the fore and do a brilliant job of voicing each creature's foibles and insecurities. The creatures themselves are a seamless blend of CGI and animatronic suits designed by Jim Henson's Creature Shop. So often these days I find myself dragged out of a story by how fake the special effects look - "Where The Wild Things Are" is one of a few examples I can thing of where the effects look exactly right.

      There is not much plot to speak of - the drama of the story is whether Max can really unite this band of fierce, lonely creatures into a loving group, and whether he can do it without getting eaten in the meantime. Because the creatures are figments of his imagination, the rhythms of their relationships has the same uneasy shifting of tantrums, boisterousness and shifting alliances of the playground...except this time, Max's playmates are eight foot tall monsters who use eating each other as a way of settling disagreements.

      There is an early scene which shows what can happen to Kings of the Wild Things who displease their subjects - it's a brief, chilling moment, and again Jonze uses it wisely. While this is Max's imagination, Jonze imaginations are deep and dark places, and sometimes people who immerse themselves fully into a fantasy world don't always come back.

      "Where The Wild Things Are" is a peculiar, moving and haunting film; I don't think it is suitable for really young children, who may find it too slow or just plain frightening. Older kids, particularly those old enough to be allowed out to play on their own, should relate to it's themes well.

      If not, then the film is left to us grown ups - those of us with the knowledge that no matter how well we were brought up, there were moments when being a kid was a bewildering and lonely place. A beautiful film.
      (This review was first posted on my Wordpress blog, http://wp.me/p1XeiS-2g)

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        22.09.2011 19:03
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        A dull, limp fish of a movie.

        Having spotted this in Home Bargains, I decided to live life on the edge and spend three pounds on a film I knew nothing about. Although I'm technically an adult, I do have time for kids' movies, provided that they are done well and aren't aimed solely at children (Toy Story or Antz, for example).

        Later, I learned that creator Spike Jonze had intended to make a movie about childhood, rather than a movie for children. However, rating it as a PG and puting pictures of rather intriguing Gruffalo-style monsters on it is going to attract children to it, and this film unfortunately fails on both accounts.

        The story follows a young, slightly troubled boy called Max who has an overactive imagination and quite pointed emotional responses to his family's behaviour around him. The first twenty minutes or so that set this up are fine, with believable performances from all and it shows quite a bit of promise. Max then has a total hissy fit and runs away from home (for about 2 blocks, so not properly). Here he goes on an adventure across the sea to land on an island inhabited with large, furry monsters, all presumably taking place in his head. And this is where it all goes wrong.

        Firstly, for a film that is supposed to conjure up sentiments of childhood imagination and wonderlands, it is boring beyond belief. The large furry monsters all speak like regular young 20-something types, and it feels as though somehow the cast of 'Friends' have been genetically spliced with the Honey Monster. For creatures that are supposed to be moulded from the stuff of imagination, they are incredibly dull and disappointing. Strangely, had they been a bunch of high-school kids, they would have worked, but as fantastical creatures they do not.

        The story has absoutely no impetus at all. The family argument at the start of the film is forgotten (it would seem that they don't even bother to go and look for Max), and it is just a bunch of 'stuff' that happens. Max lands and meets the monsters. Max convinces the monsters he's a king with magic powers. Then they build a den. Then they have a mud fight. Then there's some arguing and reconciliation. In attempting to recreate the chaos and excitement of childhood dreams, it is just a catalogue of meaningless events.

        It also suffers from lousy special effects. The monsters are reasonably well animated, especially in the facial expressions. However, they are lacking the momentum and inertia that they would have for their size as they indulge in some trampolining, shattering the illusion that they at first looked OK and reducing it to 'oh great, more CGI created by people who have never studied physics'. The jangly indie soundtrack is also very grating, and plays like a mix tape from a pretentious student.

        This is a film that fails to explore childhood with any real charm. For a movie that simultaneously evokes the wonders and fears of childhood, try the wonderfully dark 'Pan's Labyrinth' instead. Or alternatively I can recommend 'The Fall', which is a magical piece of storytelling that jumps inside the mental images of the child protagonist with skill and style. And to find a magical movie that will captivate children, well, there are lots. 'Labyrinth', 'Princess Bride', 'Toy Story' and 'Star Wars' (NOT the new ones mind) all spring to mind.

        I tried to like this film, but couldn't. Maybe those who enjoyed the book can find something in there, but it was totally empty for me. Disappointing.

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          19.06.2011 15:38
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          A fun and interesting depiction of childhood

          Max (Max Records), an adolescent boy with a restless imagination, runs away from home after his mother, a stressed single parent, snaps at him when he disrupts her evening with her new boyfriend. Eager to leave the real world behind, Max sails to a faraway land of giant furry monsters that immediately take him in and accept him as their fun-loving King.

          Being John Malkovich and Adaptation director Spike Jonze has said how his "main goal" on bringing Where The Wild Things Are to the screen wasn't "to make a children's movie. I wanted to make a movie about childhood." And, as strange as it may sound, the film is possibly the most accurate depiction of childhood ever made.

          Admittedly, the film is a fantastical tale - obviously not many people can relate to playing with giant talking monsters as a child - but both Max's emotional journey and the relationships he has with those around him, including the child-like 'wild things', are spot-on.

          For that, and for Max Records' portrayal of a confused, tumultuous child on the cusp of adulthood, the film deserves top marks. This is no Hollywoodised, one-dimensional, sickly-sweet sprog - a lot of thought has gone into the creation of warts-n-all Max. He is a caring, playful, considerate boy that also has yet to learn his boundaries, often lashing out when he doesn't get his own way. After angrily biting his mother, Max tearfully declares "it's not my fault!", as though this boy, who see-saws between playing the kid and acting grown-up, still doesn't have complete control over his feelings. He also has one heck of an active imagination, best displayed in the stories he is capable of instantly formulating.

          Max, then, is every conflicted pre-pubescent boy you've ever known and although it might sound like an exhaustingly complicated role for even a veteran actor, 9 year-old Records is entirely up to the challenge, bringing effortless naturalism in spades.

          The film also scores high with its voice cast and design. Choosing Australia as the setting for the wild things' island proves to be inspired, while the monster design is fantastic, each one with its own unique look and personality brought to life by the top notch voice cast (including James Gandolfini, Forest Whitaker and Chris Cooper). Plus, Spike Jonze's painterly visuals, along with Karen O's gorgeous soundtrack, give the film a suitably dream-like feel.

          Where the film falters, unfortunately, is in its lack of story. It doesn't take much to sum up Where The Wild Things Are other than 'frustrated boy escapes his life via his imagination into a world of monsters, plays with monsters, goes home again.'

          I can't imagine children would take much enjoyment from the film either. Not because it's too dark - on the contrary, the film is nowhere near as dark as was rumoured.

          Still, the whole thing relies heavily on a nostalgic perspective on childhood and the dynamics of the wild things are a reflection of both Max's fears and his inability to understand his parents' broken relationship - a tad too Freudian for kids, perhaps.

          If you're an adult watching the film, chances are you'll take a lot more from it - there are hints at a dysfunctional family life in the 'real world' and the representation of Max's fraught emotions through each of the wild things is heart-wrenching when interpreted by more mature viewers, but far too subtle for a younger audience to understand. It's a psycho-analyst's dream, but, whether it can be considered a problem or not, Where The Wild Things Are really is a film about childhood for adults, not a film for children.

          That aside, there's still a lot to enjoy for everyone. Wild Things has a vibrant energy, with the whole "wild rumpus" shot in sunny tones, evoking rose-tinted memories of youth, while the wild things themselves are warm, humorous and downright wonderful characters.

          Thematically, visually and aurally, Wild Things is unique, and an oddly personal journey for a big budget Hollywood movie. It may a little bit too convoluted for its own good - the idea to have each wild thing represent a different facet of Max's personality clashes slightly with the simplistic plot - but Where The Wild Things Are remains one of the sweetest surprises of 2009.

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          26.12.2010 20:03
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          Slow but OK if you want to see what a mess one's ego can make when trying to manage one's instincts.

          Well... What a strange film this is. On the face of it, a children's story with big furry people and whatnot, but really, I don't think many kids would find it all that interesting, somehow. Not much happens in it. On the other hand, maybe girls would like it more than boys: no action, but quite a lot of relating to people (or furry people, anyway).

          That might suit a lot of adults too.

          So, what's it about? Well, a lonely but creative boy, Max, gets to feel a bit frustrated when none of the kids or adults around him really connect with him, and he tends to get into tantrums every now and then as a result. In the end, he runs away from home, and ends up on an island populated by big furry people. He makes friends with them, sort of, but has to hedge it a bit because they might eat him, so he claims to be a king, and they accept this, more or less.

          They want him to make them happy, so he gets them building a big fort on the island: a nice safe place where they can all be together. However, these people, and indeed Max himself tend to be argumentative and it only really half works out. One of the furry people, Carol, is creative like Max, and indeed, gets angry like Max when things are not going his own way... in the end, this drives Max to leave the island and head back home.

          So... what's going on here? My way of thinking about this film is in terms of instincts. Each of the non-human characters represents various instincts or sides of Max himself. When he goes to the island, he positions himself as the king, or ego, who thinks of himself as being in control of the rest of the person (instincts), but in reality is not really: because, if he can't make them happy, he isn't doing his job, and they will cause trouble - which they do.

          In the end, though, he sees from this behaviour the trouble that his unruly anger can cause, and at that point is ready to return home to his mother. When he leaves the island, it isn't that he's giving up on it, it is that he has learned the lesson. Even the angriest instinct, Carol, returns to him as he is leaving, because he saw that the ego has its contribution to make. On their own, the instincts are just wild and directionless. It takes a willingness to work with ourselves to begin to mature, and to develop an inner ecology where everyone gets along together pretty reasonably most of the time...

          So, how to score this? Well, it is probably worth watching, for adults into psychology, but I wouldn't say it was the most exciting film out there. Maybe 6/10. I don't think children would find it all that fun, but it could have some resonance for some, like Max.

          This review is also to be found on my blog, http://www.alphatucana.co.uk/blog/alphatucana.php

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          19.12.2010 11:28
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          When your family are monsters...

          Where the Wild Things Are is a story about a boy called Max and his attempt to escape from home where he does not find enough attention from his mother and sister. After the escape, Max finds himself in a forest with big fluffy monsters who seem to resonate with him perfectly well: just like Max they enjoy horsing around, crushing things, and spreading chaos. The monsters gladly accept Max as their king and hope he will make things OK for them. Oh, they do have lots of problems these monsters: their "kingdom" is huge, the sun is shining, it's just relationships that don't work out...

          I wasn't that well familiar with Spike Jonze's work as a director. I didn't watch the famous Being John Malkovich. The only thing directed by Spike Jonze I watched was the less famous D.A.F.T. (including the heart-breaking Da Funk). In a way, Where the Wild Things Are is shot in the same raw and almost documentary way where every single moment of the film is not occupied with pointless dialogue, or music, or just something funny to keep you awake and interested. Viewed from this angle, Where the Wild Things Are can be one of those films people find difficult to watch. The monsters are not an oppressed alien population fighting for their freedom against some evil psychopath who wants to control the world. There is no one else around on the monsters' island, so the problems of freedom and democracy are not familiar to them. Nor is there much action, unless you count jumping in the forest and rolling down the hill in the desert as action. So what is it all about?

          Of course, certain things about the film are clear from the very beginning. We all know these stories of troubled children, escape, monsters, the power imagination, and family values. But it's only the beginning and the end, the "frame" of the film, that look familiar, predictable, and comfortable. What happens in the middle doesn't quite fit into your family values movie.

          This is why I see this family values thing as just one layer. Behind it there is Max's ego going wild and sabotaging everything. No wonder Max makes friends with Carol, a wild and creative monster who also struggles on the interpersonal front (they even both talk about losing teeth). Goat Alexander is then, most likely, Max's subconscious who knows the truth but is hardly listened to.

          Yet, on another level, I believe, the story reveals us something that was omitted in the "frame" - what happened prior to that Winter day when we first meet Max. In a more standard Hollywood film we would see Max helping the monsters, repairing their relationships, and then jumping back into his boat because mum is waiting for him for dinner. It doesn't happen in this film. There are no external obstacles to the monsters having a happy life, it just doesn't work out. And even Max with all his energy and enthusiasm can't make it work, particularly when it comes to relationship between two monsters, Carol and KW. We don't know what happened in Max's family, but we know he is not happy to see his mother dating some man and is accustomed to throwing tantrums to get his portion of attention. It might be then that what we see on the monsters' island is Max's interpretation of his earlier childhood experience. The argument between Carol and KW (while she is protecting Max) sounds just like a late-night drunken family row. And Max's hopelessness in improving the monsters' life is nothing but any child's desire to keep mum and dad together in a happy family. Being so attached to Carol, Max nevertheless seeks motherly love and protection from KW. But when he leaves the island, it is first of all Carol that he leaves behind. Thus, I am inclined to think that Carol represents not only a distorted version of Max himself, but also Max's father (whom we do not see in the film at all).

          Whatever angle you choose to look at Where the Wild Things Are, it will remain a very touching story with some of the weirdest monsters on the screen. Even though it might look like a fun movie for kids, I doubt children will be that fascinated. It will be good for grown-ups though as a reminder that whatever they suffer from, children suffer twice as much, for both parents.

          -----
          NB: This review is mirrored in my blog at www.artymind.com

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          24.09.2010 14:54
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          A book that doesn't translate well to screen....

          Where The Wild Things Are is a big screen movie adaptation of the classic children's book brought up to date to the noughties and given a new look. It is a film about childhood but not aimed at children, according to its creator, Spike Jonze (who was responsible for the weird and wonderful Being John Malkovich a few years back) which is in itself something of an oddity seeing as this is one of those books that always tops the lists of the greatest childrens books of all time! Unfortunately, what we are left with with this in mind is something of a muddled mess that is never entirely sure where it is going and has a real downbeat feel to its tone!!

          Max is an unruly child having problems at home. After throwing a tantrum, he storms out the house and finds himself at a lake where a sail boat apears to be waiting for him. Climbing into the boat, Max sails out to sea and finds himself on an island where the Wild Things are. Claiming he is a King with special powers, he attempts to bring peace to the unruly island and make everybody be friends again when it becomes apparent that The Wild Things are having troubles getting along. But his attempts at creating a peaceful atmosphere amongst the unsettled Wild Things seems to constantly go wrong!

          The basic grasp of the original story is still here but things have become all muddled up in Spike Jonze's mind and everything just seems more complicated than it has to be. Visually it is quite authentic and nice to watch and we get sterling performances from the likes of The Sopranos' James Gandalfolini, Forest Whittaker and Catherine O'Hara but there is very little else here that is appealing. After an hour and a half, I had little idea what exactly was going on, despite constantly reading the book to my daughter at bedtime over the last couple of years, and found the ending a little....so what?!?

          There are some slightly scary scenes and a bit of violence so parental guidance is probably best when watching this film and I am not sure that it is everything it could've might've been but it is okay. Just not much more than that, which is a shame considering the book's popularity!

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            28.08.2010 15:42
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            Max runs away to a magical place full of creatures and monsters

            Max is a troubled boy, he loves to use his imagination but he has a problem which sees him loose control if he cannot get his own way. After a run in with his older sister and then a fight with his Mom Max runs away.

            He runs to a place very far away which sees him travelling on a boat to a magical island where monsters and creatures live. Max meets carol who usually would have eaten him but he decides not to and they become friends. Carol and Max are very similar and soon Max meets the rest of the gang. Max soon declares that he is king and wants to run things his way. The gang let him and they are soon building a special place where only good things happen.

            Will Max and the Gang all be able to get on and will Max ever learn to live a life where he cannot get all he wants and go home?

            I did have high hopes for this film as I remember it had a lot of hype when it was released in the cinema but for me it was a let down. I could not find the meaning of the story and at times I could not follow who was who and what was actually going on, maybe this was me being a little thick or not actually fully concentrating on what was happening. I know the film is based on a famous and popular book but I have not read this and maybe if I had t would have helped me understand it more. Hubby did actually love this film and he completely disagreed with me and my opinion.

            Max was played by Max Records and I did think he was good in his role, he came across as a normal boy who loved to use his imagination and just wanted a bit of attention from his family. He worked very well with the creatures and monsters and there was a good interaction between them. The monsters were quite strange looking and the best way for me to describe them would be to compare them the to the gruffalo or the troll which were in Fraggle Rock. Not all of them looked like this and we did have a goat and a bird type creature. They were times when I thought the monsters looked quite scary and might actually frighten smaller children.

            The voices which the monsters were given were all very good and helped bring the characters to life. The voices managed to help bring feeling and emotion to the puppets and I felt I was able to get a good insight into them from the way they spoke and this also enabled them to show emotions as the otherwise flat features would not have been ale to do this on there own. Some of the vocals included actors, James Gandolfini, Paul Dano, Catherine O'Hara and Forest Whitaker.

            The setting for the film was lovely and the mix of landscapes on the island worked very well. We did get some wonderful shots out over the ocean and for me they were amazing and very enjoyable to watch. I thought the whole way of life shown for the monsters and creatures was very good but for me it did lack in some basic things, Max never ate whilst he was on the island and he never even drank and for me I would have liked it to be a bit more normal to life and I think t would have been quite fun to see the monsters trying to prepare a feast. The costumes were all very good and the puppets and actors using them did a great job. They looked very real and moved with ease.

            The music used in the film was good and very in keeping with the whole magical and imagination based film. It was not spectacular but it suited all the places it was used and helped with the emotions of the story.

            The DVD which we have does have a some bonus material which includes:-

            Series of 'Where the Wild Things Are' Shorts by Lance Bangs: The absurd Difficulty of filming a Dog running and barking at the same time, Crew Pranks Spike, Vampire Attack: The Max records Short, The Kids take over the picture.

            I have not watched any of these as I was overly impressed with the film so I am unable to comment on them.

            The running time of the film is 97 minutes and it has a PG rate. I agree that parental guidance is needed as there is mild threat and brief violence and personally I think the appearance of the monsters and creatures may be too frightening for young viewers. The DVD can be bought for just £5 now in Tesco.

            I am sad to say that I can only give this film 3 stars, if it was just me then I would have given it 2 but as hubby loved it then I have been generous. The lack of plot was what I found hard to enjoy but the acting is good and so too are the puppets. Maybe this would be more enjoyed by the younger market it was aimed at.

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              30.05.2010 15:08
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              the bad stuff far out weigh the good

              I heard nothing about this movie before it's release into the cinema. The title to me I thought was some kind of metaphor" where the wild things are" like the wildness within yourself, I had no Idea it was a popular kids book.
              Watching this movie was not the best use of my time I have to say. It's a children's story that's about 12 pages long and there really isn't much to it but to try and make a whole movie from it and for it to be a success I'm sure was not easy.



              Plot
              Max an 8 year old boy with a hyper over active imagination, where he has no friends in reality he makes up for in his imagination, running around in a wolf costume imagining he is some big scary creature chasing his dog (which you can see the dog is running for his life).
              After his mum shouts at him and scares him he runs out the house and away into the night.
              He notices a boat that is empty and decides to get in it and sail away.
              With only his wolf costume as his only possession he sails across the ocean coming onto an island, which he disembarks at, and ventures in.
              As he navigates through the thick forest he comes across 6 large animals (the wild things). After they discover him and contemplate eating him Max convinces them that he is a great king with great powers and that unless they want to see these powers they would be wise to believe him.
              And becomes king.


              Even now I'm not too sure what the point of the movie was or where it was trying to go or what kind of message it was trying to give, because let's face it there's always a message somewhere no matter how buried it is.
              It was like every creature had one of Max's emotions like Carol had his tantrum side and KW was his calmer side and Alexander was his more sensitive side, which was shown well and easily understandable on that front, I just feel like the movie wasn't too sure if it wanted to be aimed at adults or kids, even though The creatures look scarier than the ones in the book, even the creatures act like kids.

              I always think that the way you shoot a film with the setting and the camera angles and what kind of lens you use makes a big difference on how you want the mood of the scene, for example the scene when Max discovers the wild things, if they shoot it in the dark with the camera focusing on one wild thing at a time with the flicker of fire light in the shot it gives it a more menacing darker look with a possibility for danger, if it is shot in the light with a more landscape lens where they are all included in the shot then it looks more fluffy and bouncy and cute... Bit like a care bear would look (If care bears had bad hair.)
              When you watch it you will see what they were trying to do but that is what they were doing...trying. But some of the shots were contradicting themselves, it made no sense.

              Now a good thing ( I might even go as far as to say a great thing) was the wild things themselves, when they were being filmed the faces on the actual body suites didn't move, they had one expression on there face, nothing like the animatronics you get today where you can move every muscle on a face with the pull of a few levers.
              The difference with this movie was the movements of the faces were added in the editing room after the actions had been done on set.

              Now the acting is another area where there wasn't really that much you can say about it, except for Max (which ironically his real name is max also) plays the range of emotions very well for a boy his age, he goes through quite the emotional rollercoaster, the film is basically about him and his great adventure and for such a demanding roll he did well to show his young capability of acting, with so much to cope with that no youngster would.

              James Gandolfini as the voice of Carol is probably the next person after Max who is the next main character, which to me just looked like a man running around in a suite breaking things and destroying things, in fact thats how they all looked. but if you have noticed the cast list you may see that every Wild Thing also has a suit performer, James Gandolfini who played the voice of Carol must have had so much fun adding the voice while he watched Vincent Crowley who plays the body of Carol moving around.

              Final thoughts

              Would this of been a fun film to partake in as an actor or suit performer... Absolutely, the scenery looks great and so does the weather.
              Do I want to watch this movie again.... Absolutely not, if I could undo watching it the first time I would but what's done is done and that's all I can say.


              Cast

              Max Records as Max
              Catherine Keener as Connie, Max's mother
              Pepita Emmerichs as Claire, Max's sister
              Mark Ruffalo as Connie's boyfriend
              Steve Mouzakis as Mr. Elliott

              Voices

              James Gandolfini as Carol
              Lauren Ambrose as KW
              Chris Cooper as Douglas
              Forest Whitaker as Ira
              Catherine O'Hara as Judith
              Paul Dano as Alexander
              Michael Berry, Jr. as Bernard the Bull

              Suit performers

              Vincent Crowley as Carol
              Alice Parkinson and Garon Michael as KW
              John Leary as Douglas
              Sam Longley as Ira
              Nick Farnell as Judith
              Sonny Gerasimowicz as Alexander
              Angus Sampson and Mark McCracken as Bernard the Bull


              If you want to watch this movie and judge it for yourself then you can pick it up from Amazon for

              DVD £9.91
              Blue-ray £13.91

              Running time is 104 minutes so it's not too bad, before you know it it's over so I guess that's a good thing too.

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                27.04.2010 11:08
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                Probably the worst children's movie I've ever seen

                Where the Wild Things Are is a film that is based on Maurice Sendak's children's books about Max, an adventurous nine year old boy, who runs away from home after a fight with his mother. He very realistically imagines himself becoming the king of a tribe of giant fluffy monsters. At first, Max has lots of fun and adventures with his new friends, but after a while, being king turns out to be a lot harder than he thought and he begins to realise that being at home with his mum isn't as bad as he originally thought.

                When I saw the trailers for this film when it first came out at the cinema, I didn't think it looked too good so wasn't very interested in seeing it. But when Jonathan Ross said that it was one of the best films he'd seen last year, I thought perhaps it was better than it looked so gave it a go.

                To be honest, I wish I would have listened to my original instincts as I found the whole film completely stupid. I know that the giant monsters were only part of Max's imagination but the way it was filmed made it seem real, yet the monsters were just ridiculous. They were all different giant animals yet none of them actually acted like animals but more like humans - they just looked like people dressed up in mascot outfits.

                Although the main boy, Max, was a very good actor and carried the film almost entirely by himself, he wasn't a very likeable character. He was mean and nasty, destroying his sister's bedroom and being violent and aggressive towards his mum for no reason, so I didn't warm to him at all.

                I found this far too dull and boring for my own liking and, although the huge animals prancing around on screen will be enjoyable for young children to watch, I think it was far too violent for a kids' film. Max and the Wild Things seemed to be constantly playing war games with each other and this included hurtling giant rocks at each other's heads and generally trying to knock each other out.

                I thought the film was too violent for young children and too boring for adults and personally I didn't enjoy it at all. The only good bit was the ending which was quite nice, but overall I wouldn't recommend it.

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                  02.04.2010 07:34
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                  I won't bother with this again

                  I watched quite a few films on the plane to Hong Kong and one of them was Where the Wild Things Are. I chose it because it sounded intriguing and was apparently based on a book by Maurice Sendak (albeit one which I've never read). I do like children's films anyway and the trailer had looked interesting.

                  The story is about a young boy called Max who is lonely and troubled. Bullied by his sister and (partly) ignored by his mother, he runs away and gets on a boat to the island 'where the wild things are'. Once there, he pretends to be their king in order to avoid being eaten, and this is where the main body of the story takes place.

                  I thought the young boy who played Max was excellent in the role. He was a really angry and obnoxious child in some ways but at the same time he is deeply troubled and I actually found a lot of the first part of the film uncomfortable to watch. When Max puts on his wolf suit it's almost as if he becomes an animal himself, shouting and growling and running about. I thought he was much better than most child actors you see these days. I also thought it was clever the way Max's journeys on the ship were done, as if they reflected his mood at the time.

                  The general premise of the story is intriguing. On the island Max has to act like a 'king' which effectively means looking after the Wild Things. It's as though he takes on the role of mother, and is able therefore to see things from his own mother's point of view - just how hard it is to look after a little monster!

                  Some of the film is beautiful - these are generally the moments you see in the trailer involving woods, beaches and/or sunsets. Unfortunately I didn't find the Wild Things themselves particularly powerful or worthy of imagination. Perhaps it was their childlike American accents that reduced them to the level of the ordinary, but I couldn't see anything magical about them at all.

                  Ultimately, I found the film quite boring. I actually found the first part more interesting, but when Max got to the island nothing actually happened and there seemed to be no point to it at all. The characters just mess around for an hour playing children's games. I couldn't work out who this film was actually aimed at or, more to the point, who would enjoy it. It's too adult for kids (and if I was bored then they would surely be) and not profound or imaginative enough for adults.

                  I wouldn't bother watching this film again and I couldn't really recommend it, unless you're an ardent fan of the book and want to relive your youth.

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                    16.03.2010 14:47
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                    Max meets the Wild Things

                    I've read many books in my time, but it's probably Maurice Sendak's 1963 picture book Where the Wild Things Are that will remain closest to my heart. A simple and yet wildly imaginative tale, the book explores the imagination of a young boy named Max and his adventures in an imaginary land. I'm not sure what it is about this book that has always stayed with me. It's one of the earliest books that I can remember 'reading' and I think it just captured my mind with its wonderful imagery and simplistic story telling.

                    Whilst the book was initially criticised by reviewers, it was the reaction of children to the subject matter that catalysed a very different school of thinking. The beauty of Wild Things is that this is as deep as you want it to be. At face value, it's simply a classic story of adventure and monsters (albeit friendly ones) but if you scratch beneath the surface, it's a wonderful exploration of childhood fury. Liberated by his imagination, Max demonstrates perfectly that raw innocence that can only ever be associated with our children - and reminds us why we must nurture it.

                    This was always going to be a difficult product to adapt into a motion picture. Previous adaptations were short, animated pieces that simply brought the illustrations to life. In the 1980s, Sendak worked with a British composer to devise an opera based on the book, culminating in an acclaimed performance at the Proms in 2002. But it was probably only the advent of modern filmmaking techniques that could truly bring the Wild Things to the big screen - and it needed a very special kind of director to do it.

                    Known as a 'creative soul' Spike Jonze's film career is relatively short. It wasn't until the very late 1990s that he made the progression from acting to directing and helmed the curious (and acclaimed) movie Being John Malkovich, working alongside the acclaimed producer Charlie Kaufman, with whom he would work on two more movies, Human Nature and Adaptation. Fans of popular music may recognise Jonze's work through the music video that he directed for Fat Boy Slim, featuring a group of very odd dancers throwing shapes to Slim's anthem Praise You. It's this quirky sense of imagination that attracts viewers to Jonze's work.

                    Jonze's involvement on the Wild Things project started back in 2003. It was Sendak himself who favoured Jonze, saying that he was 'young, interesting and had a spark that none of the others had'. In fairness, only this kind of person could bring a project like this to life. Remember that the original book comprised just ten sentences of narrative. Jonze and Eggers's screenplay immediately increased this to 111 pages. So much is different here and yet, somehow, so much is the same, even if that's just in the spirit of the original story. What everyone wanted to know was whether this man could bring such a treasured book to life.

                    Young Max lives at home with his Mum and sister. His sister is older and has a different circle of friends and Max struggles to get the attention that he thinks he deserves. When his Mum brings a male companion home for dinner, Max reacts rather badly, a fight follows and soon he is running into the night, desperate to get away from the family home that he blames for all his anxieties.

                    Through the mysteries of darkness, Max eventually finds himself on a strange island. Clambering up through rocks and trees, he makes his way to a clearing where he can see the flickering light of a bonfire. Hearing strange noises, he peers closer and is amazed to see a small group of giant animals cavorting around the woods. One of them appears to be intent on smashing up everything in sight, which, with the combination of huge claws and horns, doesn't seem to be taking very long. Eventually Max plucks up the courage to make himself known - and so begins the most amazing experience of his life, as he discovers what it is like to live Where The Wild Things Are.

                    Sometimes, with the pressures and conflicts of the modern world, I think somebody somewhere forgot what it is to be a child. It's true what they say - the world IS an entirely different place now, with different expectations and different values. But ultimately, children will always be children, as long as we let them - and this seems to be the message that Spike Jonze shouts resolutely from every frame of Where The Wild Things Are.

                    Catalysed by one of those silly 'family moments' that we've all probably had, our story is told through the eyes and imagination of a single young boy, who deals with the disappointments and conflicts of his very 'real' life by creating instances and opportunities that sit in a very different time and place. Jonze goes to great pains to seamlessly join the two together; we're not insulted by wavy-screen moments or blacked out pauses to remind us that we're moving from the real world to the fantasy world. We *know* that Max has made it all up but we just don't care. That's the whole point. We intend to lose ourselves in Max's new world as readily as Max does, himself.

                    It takes somebody with a childish imagination to create a film like this. It couldn't a child. It would need to be somebody who has the self-awareness and experience to understand what it is that makes a child tick and it's here that I think Jonze has found his most triumphant moment. It's not one thing; it's everything. Every detail, every word spoken, every instance is so wonderfully child-like. That doesn't mean dumbed down, by the way. This isn't like one of those CBBC programmes where everyone talks to everyone like they're stupid. This is intelligent and thoughtful, but exudes a childlike creativity that it's impossible not to fall in love with. Confronted by a group of giant monsters that could probably eat him at a whim, Max boldly stands up to them, refuting their claims that they might eat him with ever increasingly ridiculous arguments as to why they can't. And it's this skill at outwitting the monsters that leads them to appoint Max as their king - a role that he goes onto relish.

                    This means that this isn't a very conventional narrative, but then it was never going to be. It means that at times the action seems to suddenly peter out, rather like an exhausted child who needs time to gather breath. At other times it suddenly lurches from peace and harmony into conflict and darker, more confrontational scenes, because that's what it's like as a child. Children play, fall out and then play again against a rapid timescales that most adults could never even hope to match. Children don't generally hold grudges and they don't expect anyone around them to hold one either. Children find safety in the strangest places. Only a child, for example, would find refuge in the stomach of a giant monster, without even thinking twice about it.

                    What's really incredible is how Jonze has subtly managed to recreate the 'feel' of Sendak's original artwork throughout the movie. Filmed in a very slightly grainy, almost surreal print, the film makes great use of the wooded setting, opting to film many of the scenes at night when the darkness and flickering flames seem to accentuate the Wild Things' beastly features. It's a surprisingly beautiful film too, encompassing wild shore lines, with barren deserts and intriguing forests.

                    All these details (and many more) make Wild Things one of those unexpected cinematic pleasures. You never quite know what's going to come next and (frankly) you probably wouldn't want to. There are plenty of wonderful moments in this film but the highlights include an inspirational moment of joy when Max galvanises his new-found friends into a plan of action to build a new fort, filled with wonderfully over-the-top features. Top of the list, however, is probably a dirt-bomb fight that features a wonderful exchange of dialogue between Max and one of the Wild Things that could have been ripped straight from any playground or school yard. Ah yes, that brings me onto the Wild Things....

                    The Wild Things (or the monsters between you and I) are nothing short of incredible. Various techniques are used to bring the monsters to life, including live action, performers in costume, superb animatronics and a degree of computer-generated effects. Amazingly (and fortunately), the CG effects are kept to a minimum and most of the monster work is created using costumes and animatronics - and these things have never looked so good. It was always the case that Sendak's monsters were large and 'monstrous' but they were never intended to be frightening. Clearly, at a time of crisis, a child would not turn to something scary, and the exaggerated features of the animals still focus intently on large, friendly eyes and enormous smiling mouths.

                    Everything about these monsters is perfect. However picky I wanted to be (and I really *didn't* want to be) I really don't think I could find fault with the Wild Things. Able to master sensitivity and brute force in equal doses, never before have I seen a film where animatronics and puppetry were so capable of creating emotion and empathy. When one of the Wild Things is sad, everything about him looks sad. When one is angry, he becomes a seething mass of rage and power. Their interaction with the scenery is amazing because (for the most part) they really are physically interacting with something, which reaps enormous visual dividends over the use of something like green screen technology. It's hard to find a favourite amongst them, but I found an amazing draw towards Alexander, a large goat-like Wild Thing who seemed more sensitive (and therefore shrewder) than his peers.

                    It's refreshing to see that the producers refrained from going down the very obvious route of bringing in big-budget, big named stars to give the film wider appeal. Indeed, there really is very little about these characters that seem to depend on convention. Carrol, for example, the leader of the group (voiced by James Gandolfini from The Sopranos) is impulsive and affectionate but has a darker side that audiences wouldn't normally see in something like this. Judith, on the other hand, is pitched as a 'downer' and frequently seems unable to make up her mind whether she likes or trusts Max. Catherine O'Hara's voice adds an unusually sharp, aggressive nature to the character that amply demonstrates that this isn't really a film for children. Her partner Ira (Forest Whitaker), on the other hand, is docile and somewhat repressed but intriguingly so. And then there's KW, who shares a history with Carrol that we don't initially understand.

                    The most striking thing about these characters is how the writers manage to create such distinct, empathetic personalities from fictional creatures, without ever resorting to caricature. These feel like monsters that have 'real' issues and anxieties, which, of course, they have inherited from their creator Max. I guess that's the whole point. Notable mention must also go to the young actor Max Records, who shows a maturity way beyond his years in his portrayal of Max. There's an amazing depth and resonance to Max's character throughout Wild Things, as he struggles to cope with anger, fear, disappointment and ultimately responsibility. It's an amazing performance from one so young, fittingly so for the film.

                    There are two notable moments in Wild Things that really set out what this film is all about. In school, right at the start of the film, Max's school teacher teaches Max and his classmates about the principles of The Sun and how our star will one day die. It seems to have little effect. Later, when talking to Carrol, Max mentions this in a matter-of-fact sort of way and it catalyses a series of events that changes everything. This, to me, typified the way in which children can actually be burdened with knowledge and how their wonderful imaginations enable them to interpret and accept certain situations that adults are, perhaps, better equipped to deal with.

                    Some critics have complained that this film is boring because 'nothing really happens'. This is an infuriating comment, if only because it demonstrates a complete lack of understanding about what this film is all about. This isn't a traditional 'action/adventure' film with a start, middle and end. This is a narrative journey filled with experiences of varying degrees. Sometimes it's supposed to make you laugh and sometimes it's supposed to make you cry. Consistently it's supposed to make you think and reflect and it's almost entirely successful in its aims.

                    Curiously enough, however this probably wouldn't (ironically) suit a particularly young audience. Despite its relatively innocent PG certificate, I think this probably dips and lurches in a way that a child would struggle with, particularly if they were expecting a traditional 'family' narrative. Indeed, children who enjoy/have enjoyed the source material might find the stretch to slightly darker content a little unsettling.

                    Special mention must also go to the wonderful soundtrack, composed by Jonze's ex-girlfriend Karen O. The music complements the film perfectly with wildly upbeat tracks like 'Rumpus' accompanying the manic dancing when Max first meets the Wild Things and then far more sombre moments that accompany the film's most emotional scenes. It's an eclectic mixture of sounds and styles, probably not to everyone's tastes (and not something I would enjoy outside of the film) but it fits perfectly with the garish childishness of the movie.

                    You've probably guessed by now that I loved this film. In many ways, it's the very definition of a masterpiece. Evocative, thought-provoking and beautiful at the same time and it's one of those rare treats where the director clearly loves the subject matter so much that it was always going to be in safe hands. Jonze takes a single, simple concept and expands it into a feature-length production that never strays from Sendak's core aims. This is a delight from start to finish. If you don't get it, you'll never get it and you never probably had it and shame on you.

                    Highly recommended

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                      01.02.2010 21:44
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                      Poor

                      Where The Wild Things Are is a film by director Spike Jonze. Max is a lonely nine year old boy who one evening runs away from his mother after she brings yet another man home for the evening. After finding an abandoned boat he sails away to a far away land where he meets some rather unpleasant monsters.

                      This film was not up my street at all - childish landscapes and daft set pieces. All of the central characters were poorly acted and it just made me incredibly bored.

                      I'm also not really too sure about who would want to see the film. I can't see many kids wanting to watch the film - I think even I wanted the flash-editing of modern children's films. This film became stale not long after the first fifteen minutes. I can't see many adults enjoying the film either. I think its mainly aimed at 'knowing' twentysomethings who haven't got much else to do than watch a film that was based on a book they half remember from their childhood.

                      It was just so slow! Nothing really happened at all and the film had nothing whatsoever to say! What was it about? Why did he go there in the first place - was it a dream? Was it real? What in the name of god is it all about?!

                      I was thoroughly disappointed with this total drivel. Whatever charm the book once had has been zapped by an arrogant director with a trumped-up opinion of himself and how he can make a 'twee' film. I'm not into his style in the slightest, there seems to be a rash of modern directors who think it's a great idea to put as many twidly Nick Drake-esque songs into their 'indie' flicks.

                      I hated the monsters too. They are like a filthy versions of Big Bird with all the charm of a wet turd. Where The Wild Things Are was a total mess from beginning to end and I can't say I'll ever be watching it again. So there!

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                        24.01.2010 13:50
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                        A simple story that will make you feel a little fuzzy!

                        Where the Wild things are is a coming of age story about a young boy called Max. It is based on the children's book of the same name by Maurice Sendak. Apparently this is quite an old and famous book written in the 1960's but I haven't come across it and so wasn't familiar with the story. The film was showing in cinemas across the UK over the Christmas period.

                        The film tells the story of a young boy called Max who has an active imagination and is a bit of a tearaway. He tends to throw tantrums when he is not the centre of attention. On one such occasion, when his mother is paying more attention to her boyfriend than him he bites her and then runs away from home. But he runs away not just physically but into a world in his imagination that is a day and nights travel across the ocean. He reaches an island that is inhabited by wild animals. Usually they would eat him but Max manages to convince them that he has powers and that he should be their king. One of these animals called Carol has a similar temperament to Max, and the two develop a close relationship. Max sets about to create a kingdom where they can do exactly as they please but as the story develops tensions grow between Max and the animals, some of whom do not believe Max is a good king. Will Max conquer the wild animals and in doing so his inner demons too? I'll let you watch and find out!

                        I think the story works on many levels. It can be seen as a simple children's tale of a boy going to an island and meeting some wild animals. This is what I thought when I was watching the film and at times I thought the story was a little too simple. But my advice is to wait until the end, when the story comes full circle. I then realised that this is a beautiful story about a young boy who grows as a person, who through his imagination battles between being good and his wild side and eventually comes to understand himself.

                        I thought the film was beautifully shot. I really liked the Sepia effect of the island scenes. It is lovely to see the relationship that develops between Carol and Max and how Max comes to understand his behaviour through Carols. I had mixed emotions, about Max. Initially I thought he was a bit of a spoilt brat but as the film progressed, I got to know him a bit better and saw how he struggled between his good and bad side I came to like him.

                        The film lasted around an hour and 40 minutes, which was just right. It is rated a PG. It is directed by Stephen Jonzse and produced by Tom Hanks. It stars Max Records as Max, whose performance I thought was excellent. It also has Catherine Keener as Max's mother. The animals are voiced by some famous names including Catherine O'Hara and Forest Whitaker. Overall a heart-warming story and one that I recommend!

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                          22.01.2010 19:16
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                          Go see it

                          Plot:

                          Max (Max Records) is an imaginative child who spends his time imagining other worlds. However, there's a dark side to Max if he doesn't get his own way. Believing that his mum is giving more attention to her boyfriend than to him, Max runs away. He finds a group of large wild animals, claiming he has magical powers they make him king.

                          Directed by Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich), this is an adaptation of the childrens book by Maurice Sendak.

                          Review:

                          First thing to say about this film is-it's not a kids film. It's very dark and not enough happens to keep children interested in it. So I'd advise against letting young children watch it, both Max and Carol are depressive characters, it's a bit too sad for kids.
                          It's a very stylish film, possibly more style than substance but it is enjoyable. The soundtrack was pretty good but I can imagine that it would wear on some given the amount of screentime that contains no dialogue only music.
                          The book this comes from is very short and it's clear that there isn't much to say during the film, it doesn't really go anywhere. But the great part about this film is the characters and the actors portraying them. The cast is extremely strong, the stand out for me would be James Gandolfini who shows off his acting chops with his voice alone. His character Carol is very much like Max in his depressive nature, Gandolfini brings this out brilliantly.
                          As previously mentioned, the film looks excellent, it is visually stunning. And although the story doesn't contain much, it is a very good film and well worth a watch.

                          Cast:

                          Max - Max Records
                          Carol - James Gandolfini (voice)
                          KW - Lauren Ambrose (voice)
                          Ira - Forest Whitaker (voice)
                          Alexander - Paul Dano (voice)
                          Judith - Catherine O'Hara (voice)
                          Douglas - Chris Cooper (voice)
                          Mom - Catherine Keener
                          The Boyfriend - Marc Ruffalo

                          Also posted on ciao under the name shabbating

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