movies: the tale of despereaux

the tale of despereaux - small hero, big heartOkay, before I start on the actual movie, I have to have a tiny wee rant (because if it's not tiny then this will be all rant and no review) about two things, assigned seating in virtually empty movie theatres and people who think that the cinema and their lounge room are the same place. Both of them can go to H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks! Stupid Marion, stupid hot weather and stupid people escaping said hot weather at previously stated location... grrrr...

And now... The Tale of Despereaux...

You know, there is actually a downside to having an all-star cast... especially when it's an animated movie and you only have their voices but you still insist on listing every "name" actor you have in your movie in the opening credits... because then people like me play that somewhat annoying game in their head of "Guess That Voice". And in a movie where some of the character names are either said once, or seemingly not at all, then it's a little frustrating.

This movie does indeed boast an "all star cast"... Matthew Broderick, Dustin Hoffman, Kevin Kline, William H. Macy, Stanley Tucci, Robbie Coltrane, Frank Langella, Tracey Ullman, Christopher Lloyd, Charles Shaughnessy, Emma Watson (Hermione in Harry Potter)... plus Sigourney Weaver ... and of those I recognised just over half. And it's not even like many of them have much of a role... Christopher Lloyd's character is in it for maybe two minutes tops, but he still got billing at the beginning of the movie. I don't know, maybe that was how they GOT all the names...

I also have to say that the movie starts a little oddly... there's a voice over about this mouse who always tells the truth and is honourable and whatnot, and you assume (correctly) that has to be Despereaux... so you would think the movie would start with, you know, Despereaux... but no... the first ten minutes or so are what seem to be a totally different story. It makes sense eventually, but it did mean that I felt like I was waiting for the movie to really start (not that the first section isn't interesting... it's just not about the title character, so you kind of wonder were he is... or I did anyway).

Actually a bit of the movie is like that... there's a lot going on, but nothing much really happens, and then there seems to be some jumps of logic at the end that I'm still not sure about.

The animation, as you would expect, is beautiful... yes, the mice's eyes are a little weird (and a touch off-putting, if somewhat more realistic I assume) when viewed from the side, but that's more of a concept thing than animation I think. And there's a story within the movie that has a different style of animation to it... which was also beautiful, although interestingly it looked probably the most like "real" stop motion animation of anything I've seen in the digital arena. Not the whole time, but there were certain points where my brain kept thinking it was stop motion.

So all in all, it's a sweet movie (although nothing we haven't seen in many and varies forms before), but there's perhaps too much plot and not enough time spent on it. It's not bad, just a little lost in translation maybe...

yani's rating: 1 giant soup pot out of 5

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