movies: where the wild things are

where the wild things are - inside all of us is... hope. inside all of us is... fear. inside all of us is... adventure. inside all of us is a wild thing.I've been excited about Where The Wild Things Are since I first heard that they were making it into a movie...

And then I saw the teaser trailer and just started crying part way though... I couldn't even tell you why... it just tapped into something and I was well on my way to Blubberland City.

It's odd though... Ma asked me on the way home tonight whether it met my expectations. It's a hard question to answer, because even though I'd been looking forward to it and I was pretty certain it was going to make me cry I didn't really have any specific expectations about it. I suppose if it hadn't made me cry then I might have been a little disappointed.

But I think I can categorically say that Where The Wild Things Are lived up to my expectations.

Not least of all because I started crying at about the point that I thought I would (a touch earlier maybe)...

As a movie it feels very "indie"... discounting the giant furry suits and obvious amounts of CGI... but it's not an overly talkative movie (plus there's a very indie music soundtrack throughout the film)... it seems to take after the book in that regard, in that there are pages in the book with no text at all, and this kind of felt like the movie version of that... and when you boil the movie down to it's purest essence it's about loss and acceptance and grief.

If I may indulge in a small amount of semi-spoilerage...

It's a shame in some ways that they didn't make the journey to the land of the Wild Things more like a dream sequence, but I understand why they didn't... because it would have taken some of the danger out of the later sequences... but it felt dream-like because essentially all of the Wild Things are Max... or a part of Max.

Carol is his fear and his anger, but also his sense of adventure and his leadership. Alexander is his sense of being unheard. The Bull is his isolation and feeling of being an outsider. Judith is his pessimism and his paranoia. KW is his love but also his sense of loss. Some of the others I'm a little fuzzy on, but they all feel like they're a part of him and that perhaps this whole adventure with the Wild Things doesn't take place anywhere but in his head.

So for him to understand the things he did that made him run away he has to see himself through the Wild Things... and there's some clever echoing of dialogue and ideas from the real world in the land of the Wild Things.

Okay, I think that's all the spoilerage...

Since the cast is mostly made up of people inside giant suits, it's a little hard to critique them, especially since the voices didn't belong to the people inside the suits, but none of the voices seemed out of place.

However, Max Records (and you just have to love that name) is AMAZING as Max. He just inhabits Max and makes him feel like a real little boy, able to go from obnoxious energy to grief to laughter on a dime. And I did want to shake him a couple of times when it didn't seem like he was learning the lessons that were being presented to him... but I think that was more about the fact that the movie takes a particularly understated approach to the character development... and a lot of it is done through a look or under the surface than stated blatantly.

I did also keep being reminded of fellow blogger Shannon while watching Max... I think it was the rounded face, the slight dusting of freckles and the hair falling in his face more than anything... but there's a definite resemblance.

The movie itself though is beautiful... the lighting, the locations, the creature suits, everything. I did make an observation to Ma that while for people in the US or Europe or Asia the land of the Wild Things would have looked fairly alien and unique... to people here in Australia, that's all particularly recognisable scenery... from the look of bushfire damaged gum trees to the rich colours of the rocks and the distinctive blues of the sky and water... it's exotic to the rest of the world, but to me it just made the land of the Wild Things feel familiar and comfortable.

If I have any criticisms, partly they're things unconnected with the movie itself... like the fact that I knew how the faces of the Wild Things had been created, and it did pull me out of the movie a few times just because I was watching their expressions rather than being fully immersed in the moment. My only other complaint would be that because it's a "show don't tell" kind of movie, there are some points where it feels a little slow and suffers the tiniest bit from not having a slightly fuller explanation or a bit more dialogue.

Without giving too much away there are no words spoken after Max leaves the land of the Wild Things, and I did want him to just say two more words when he gets home.

But having said all of that, it's still a beautiful movie and absolutely one for the DVD collection.

yani's rating: 4 lost crowns out of 5

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