Thursday, 3 December 2009

Where The Wild Things Are: Movie Review

Where The Wild Things Are: Movie Review

Rating: 7/10
Cast: Max Records, James Gandolfini, Catherine O'Hara, Catherine Keener, Lauren Ambrose, Paul Dano, Forest Whitaker
Director: Spike Jonze
Max is your typical kid - rambunctious, lacking in boundaries and discipline and blessed with a fiercely imaginative mind.
He spends his time building igloos in the snow and wandering around in a wolf costume.
One day after a fight and heated argument with his mum, he runs off, gets in a boat and heads to an island. That island is Where The Wild Things live - and under the cover of darkness, he meets Carol and the rest of the gang - a group of 10 foot tall hairy creatures wreaking havoc for no reason.
Max, feeling dejected and rejected from his home life, decides to stay with the Wild Things after he's made King of their clan - however, he soon discovers that ruling is not as easy as he thought.
Spike Jonze's version of Where The Wild Things Are is of course based on the 1963 book by Maurice Sendak and of course comes with the weighty expectation of fans worldwide.
However, it's no disappointment.
Granted, there's not much story to build on but what Jonze has visually created is stunning in places - and his decision to turn the Wild Things into toweringly tall animatronic full suits (with creatures made by Jim Henson's Creature Shop) is nothing short of cinematic genius.
Shot with a handheld camera, the film is full of beautiful visuals - as well as nightmarish visions and will amaze you from the very moment the Wild Things appear on the screen. They look like cuddly puppets in places - but Carol's temperamental behaviour and tantrums which rock Max's world are brilliantly brought to life by the vocal work of James Gandolfini of Sopranos fame. In fact, it's possible to say Gandolfini's Carol is a creature version of his Tony Soprano - charming and charismatic but with the capability of turning at just the bat of an eyelid.
Let's be clear though - this is not really a kid's film. The themes of anger, loneliness and melancholy coupled with some dark, sinister visuals are the stuff of nightmares. The younger end of the audience may find it hard to watch - but that said, there's wonderment aplenty in the vision Jonze has had.
He's clearly stayed true to his idea of how the book should be created; he's fleshed out the plot and brought the creatures to life. There's a raucous soundtrack to complement this ragtag bag of misfit creatures whose occasionally sadsack ways will amuse and upset in equal measures.

Where The Wild Things will appeal to the imaginative - and Spike Jonze's creativity deserves to be saluted. As the year heads to a close, it's proof the best is still coming

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