Another Neil Gaiman joint, but this time in movie form. I liked Stardust considerably, and someone in Chicago had recommended this one to me, so when Zach and I were in Blockbuster I thought I’d feed my current Gaiman frenzy and pick it up.
It was… interesting.
At first, the story seems relatively normal. Troubled girl working in the circus, her mother gets sick, she gets crazy worried. Then bam, the entire atmosphere changes; there’s no lead in, gradual buildup, slow progression. The girl walks outside in a relatively normal scene, and someone’s head gets taken off and the entire movie changes.
I say “changes,” but this is when the movie actually starts and we enter Gaiman’s surreal world. The first thing you notice is just how beautiful and artistic everything looks. The Henson company left their Muppets at home in favor of something dark and creative. This motif carries throughout and practically overwhelms the movie, creating such a spectacle that the story seems secondary.
Which is good, because the story isn’t anything to write home about. It’s not bad, it certainly has some charm and is at least marginally different from your “child gets lost in a dreamworld” story. It’s somewhat reminiscent of The Neverending Story, and like the Neverending Story, the overall story isn’t as important as the details and novel bits that make up the world the story is set in. To that end, there’s certainly enough here to create a rich, vibrant dreamscape.
My only problem (and I seem to have this problem a lot with movies and less so with books) is the characterization. The main character is just uninteresting; she’s good enough to drive the narrative forward, but I hardly cared about her. Her friend Valentine is a bit more interesting, but he’s not a movie-maker. I could’ve done with a few personalities to really wrap me into the world.
I can recommend this movie for its aesthetic; that alone is good enough to warrant at least a single viewing. The world is well-crafted and the story sufficient. I don’t know that I’d put it on the level of The Neverending Story, but then, that’s a hard movie to compete with.
I just threw that in so it wouldn’t be obvious.