Rating: 4 of 5
I really, really wanted to love this movie. In part because an ex-coworker was convinced it was going to be so bad all the actors in it will ask themselves, “What was I thinking?” And in part because I love fantasy adventure films and they are not often enough beautiful and enchanting adventures. I watched the preview and thought this one might be. I expected a quirky, enchanting adventure.
The reality was incredibly beautiful visually; an authentic fantasy world that was quirky and funny. But there was a bit too little adventure and not near enough enchantment.
Maybe it’s just me, or the day I’m having today. But I didn’t connect emotionally with this film enough; not nearly as much as I needed to for it to cast the enchantment that I thought it could. I wanted to fall in love with a story of a boy becoming a hero and the toils and dangers he faces that draw strength and courage from him. I loved the scene in the preview where Tristan’s in the white coat slicing his sword around with such easy confidence. I imagined he had been swept away with Yvaine in adventures full of magic and sword fights to become that man. That along the way we would see them fall in love. Rather than a lovely musical montage of him learning to sword fight and her learning to dance I needed to see the look in Tristan’s eyes when he is struck by her grace and she captures his heart; the way Yvaine looks at him as she realizes he may be worth falling from the heavens for. I would have fallen in love with them as they fall in love with each other. I wanted Tristan to face Lamia with more determination than fear, for their victory to be so poignant that it would capture my heart. I expected the visual beauty to be a reflection of the emotion within the story.
Was that maybe asking too much?
The very cool, sort of sad thing is I don’t think it is. I think this movie could have been that wonderful, but it lacked substance. I think in trying to bring the novel to film they simplified an intricate story and in doing so focused more on the plot, explaining it and moving it forward, then on the characters and their relationships. (ETA: Now that I’ve read the book, no they did a great job adapting it bringing more excitement and danger to a surprisingly tepid story.) Things happened, we saw them in the numerous musical interludes that connected actual scenes, but there wasn’t enough substance within the scenes. So a wonderful story with a great sense of humor lacked heart; which is what it needed the most.
I wanted it to be like PJ Hogan’s Peter Pan that just grabs your heart and is wonderful.
I’m not saying there weren’t a lot of things I loved, because there were. But it wasn’t enchanting and that was what I wanted most.