New Year, New Reviews. Please note the star rating at the bottom of this review. I intend to give ratings out of five on all my reviews.
Where the Wild Things Are:
Max (Max Records), a highly strung and disturbed but ultimately lonely young boy runs away after his mother (Catherine Keener) sends him to bed without any dinner. Dressed in a wolf costume complete with ears and tail he finds himself in a strange land inhabited by creatures that fall somewhere between monsters and giant cuddly toys where he declares himself King.
I came to this film with something of a disadvantage, I had never heard of the book it is based on. The appeal for me was the director Spike Jonze and the sumptuous trailer. The film itself is as stunning as the trailer suggested it would be. The wild things of the title are a completely seamless mixture of costumed actors, animatronics and CGI. The actors providing the voices for The Wild Things are perfectly chosen and include James Gandolfini, Paul Dano, Lauren Ambrose and Forest Whitaker. Max arrives at The Wild Things island as Carol (James Gandolfini) is destroying their homes out of frustration in a scene that mirrors an earlier scene of destruction involving Max. It soon becomes clear how the personalities and actions of the different Wild Things reflect different aspects of Max’s personality.
Max Records does a great job as max; for the most part he is acting with the suited performers playing wild things. The direction is good extracting many layers from the simple story, it also keeps things moving at a suitable pace. The music is also perfect but it is the stunning visuals that really make the film. Shot on location with physical sets rather than bluescreen the looks fantastic.
Ultimately Max is lonely and frustrated, all his issues are projected onto the Wild Things and as such they are looking to Max for the same things that Max is looking for from his family. He soon realises that he can’t give them what they are looking for. It is in this that Jonze gives us a commentary on broken homes and troubled kids. The film has a poetic quality that is tinged with emotional intensity and sadness but also has a lot more depth than you expect for something masquerading as a kids film.