Sunday, December 26, 2010

Movie Review: Gulliver's Travels

Happy Boxing Day everyone!

Last night my family continued our Christmas day tradition of going out to see a movie in the evening. The audience is virtually non-existent (there were less than a dozen people in the theatre), the walk outside is nice and it's a fun thing to do as a family. We saw the film Gulliver's Travels and It got me thinking of movie adaptations.

I read the original novel last year and other than the idea of a giant man visiting with tiny people and later giant people, there isn't a lot in there for kids. The novel is a satire and pokes a lot of fun at various forms of government, then the question of ancient versus modern knowledge and finally a question of whether man in inherently corrupt or corruptible. Also (mild spoiler) the end is not a happy one for Lemuel Gulliver.

The movie, on the other hand, is definitely aimed at kids, is a re-imagining of the story, taking place in modern-day and has a focus on the importance of self-confidence. It focuses largely on the first section of the novel (the second, wherein Gulliver meets people who are as big to him as he was to the Lilliputians, is touched on briefly), and overall was a lot of fun. I enjoyed how the Lilliputians were played as kind of silly and living their lives as they assumed people should live (a kidnapping scene early in the film was pretty hilarious). Although the film had a few dark points (an apparent on-screen death and a chilling off-screen one), the family had a lot of fun.

In the end I wouldn't necessarily change much of the film, adapting a satire for kids is pretty tricky and the later parts of the novel only really work if the audience has a lot of world knowledge (being knowledge of the world in the 1700s when the book was written), so I imagine there wouldn't be a lot there for kids. As a Christmas movie, it was fun, and that's about all I can say.

A quick side-note, for people taking their kids to see the movie, it might be good if the kids have seen The Empire Strikes Back and (if they're old enough, Titanic) as the movie gives spoilers to both.

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