My most anticipated film of the year is a week away from hitting theatres and up until now it has been kept pretty well under wraps. However, the critic’s reviews are beginning to trickle in and so far the word is mostly positive. The film is being lauded for its imagination and faithfulness to the celebrated source material.
Early in his review Brent Simon of Screen Daily says the film’s analysis of character was a bit choppy, but the imaginative visuals easily distract from any flaws in development:
Still, the filmâ€™s unique, handcrafted visual approach and genuine depth of feeling render this shortcoming relatively moot. The novelty of looking at the creatures never wears off, and Jonze uses an inquisitive handheld style that works. Similarly, the script is honest about both peril and aggrieved feelings â€” when thereâ€™s a dirt clod war, someone gets hurt, and when Carol feels spurned by crush KW (Lauren Ambrose), his hurt feelings linger.
In Todd McCarthy of Variety‘s review he points out the most obvious problem with adapting a short children’s story – the limited amount of source material to work with:
Fleet of foot, emotionally attuned to its subject and instinctively faithful to its celebrated source, “Where the Wild Things Are” earns a lot of points for its hand-crafted look and unhomogenized, dare-one-say organic rendering of unrestrained youthful imagination. But director Spike Jonze’s sharp instincts and vibrant visual style can’t quite compensate for the lack of narrative eventfulness that increasingly bogs down this bright-minded picture.
Emanuel Levy praises the film for its fantastic performances and gives a lot of that credit to director Spike Jonze:
The best element of Jonze’s vividly imagined adaptation is the acting, and the director should be commended for gathering an ensemble of gifted actors that, while covered with suits, still manage to be impressive and singular in bothÂ delivery of dialogues and behavioral gestures.Â Each of the participants is a fully conceived individual creature with motivations and behaviors all his/her own, defined by gender, physical appearance, marital status, and tangled social relationships.
Of the reviews I have read so far, however, I think Ed Gonzalez of Slant Magazine sums up the intentions of Jonze and author of the original story Maurice Sendak best:
Maurice Sendak might say that where the wild things are is a place where children go when there’s too much sadness in their lives. In Spike Jonze’s much-anticipated film adaptation of Sendak’s classic children’s book, we understand this world more than ever as a stirring projection of a nine-year-old boy’s troubled psyche, a place of vast deserts and sinister forests and ginormous monsters who build homes and playgrounds seemingly designed by Richard Serra and whose behaviors parallel those of the humans in the tyke’s life, and in the case of the particularly fearsome Carol (voiced by James Gandolfini), the father who is conspicuously missing from it.
Where the Wild Things Are hits theatres nationwide this Friday. Don’t miss it!