Sunday, January 13, 2013

Day Thirteen - The Tale of Despereaux, or "Why couldn't Shrek be like this?"

I have to say that I wasn't expecting much out of Despereaux.

To be honest, I went into this film half-expecting to see another forced and trite fractured fairy tale a la Mike Myers' troll-fests... more lowest common denominator fluff. Instead, I was treated to something that wasn't quite great, but still had a decent amount of heart.

The Tale of Despereaux is earnest, that much is certain. It tries both through its writing and various art styles to weave what could just be silly drek into an actually serious tale of a woeful kingdom that is dour due to its own insecurities... where only a brave mouse can shift the tide of darkness.

That's not to say Despereaux is a superhero. Really, he's just the right individual at the right time who, through his honesty and courage, can influence those surrounding him to do what is right.

It's a simple tale.

Unfortunately, it does get bogged down by it's overabundance of side characters. There are three kingdoms in this story: human, mouse, and rat. In each kingdom there are quite a few personalities. Too many, in my opinion.

Whether it's the Soup Chef and his Vegetable Chef Golem companion... or the vaguely menacing rats who are never given full form and voice, just a few standouts to fixate on as villains, but are never actually developed... or the mouse council which is, for some reason, dead set on remaining frightened because it is convenient for the story. There is the potential for quite a few very interesting characters to explore in depth, but they're all crammed and jammed together to no purpose.

Overall, the plethora of unique faces and personalities is lost in the noise. Whereas a good Disney film will celebrate and feature a large ensemble, this Relativity film suffers and does the opposite.

I was especially disappointed at the forced second act turn of the film's nominal secondary protagonist. While it's nice to have shifting allegiances, this particular turn (and his instigation of serving girl Meg) was too convenient... as was the quick change where Meg is the one betrayed. Definitely a scene or two missing there.

Still, overall it's not a terrible film. There's a decent message that's maybe a bit silly and heavy-handed, but not so much to the extent of other films like the Shrek franchise or Hoodwinked.

Quick shoutouts to the Storybook sequences, I really enjoyed the art style there, and Emma Watson, who actually did sound like a princess for once. I'm really looking forward to her career post HP. We've seen a few things already, like her small role in My Week With Marilyn... and I'm looking forward to her performance in the Wallflower movie when I can track it down.

Kudo's to everyone's voice acting, actually... I'm sorry most of you were lost to the brevity of the film. I think it would've gone much better as a prime time fantasy mini-series so that everyone could be explored in more depth.

Anyways, The Tale of Despereaux is worth a watch. Not stellar, but admirable in its attempt.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

No comments:

Post a Comment