Well, I went to this film in a ‘spur of the moment’ type thing, brought on by severe boredom and curiosity. Knowing it was a Walt Disney film, and knowing that it couldn’t be as great as everyone is saying, I basically went to see it for the lovely Ms. Adams. Surprisingly, the film is very much unlike the rest of their latest films; with great performances, an original concept, and some 2-D animation! Alright, onto the review of this shockingly great film.
To be honest, the direction of this film was very average, and very much like the rest of the Disney productions. Mr. Kevin Lima didn’t bring anything new to the table, and it seemed as if he only followed the script. This means he didn’t have a vision of his own, but only Disney’s vision, which did hurt the creativity of the film, but it was great nonetheless. He had some good ideas, but what could you honestly expect from a person who’s done 102 Dalmatians. If he wanted to stand out more, as a director, he could’ve done a few things differently from the Disney trend.Surprisingly enough, there was a great standout in the ‘behind the camera’ section, and that was the writing. I knew it would be at the very least; interesting, but it is so much more than just ‘unique’, and enters a league outside any other Disney work. His resume was previously very unimpressive, with two films, and both were written with a fairly creative concept, but executed poorly in dialog. These films were Premonition and Blast from the Past. Since this film depended on creativity, Bill Kelly really had to pull through to make it work. Fortunately, he created a script that while cliche, and marketed at kids, it also had enough adult situations to keep both parties enjoying themselves. He also tied in some other fairy tales, to make the movie like a spoof, but with an actual ‘original’ plot outline, and only uses these ‘spoofs’ as a comedic device. Very good work on Kelly’s part, and hopefully he keeps working at this level of skill from here on out.
The acting was surprisingly much more than just one great performance, but rather a few great performances, and one fantastic one. Susan Sarandon plays “Queen Narissa“. The role is predominately voice work, with about three minutes of actual face time. She plays the role very well, and does great voice work. She was evil, her nonexistent presence was scary, and she delivered all of her lines very well. Though, my problem is : Why cast Susan Sarandon when you have a perfect Michelle Pfeiffer, who’d be perfect for the role? .
Patrick Dempsey plays “Robert Philip“, the lawyer that finds the princess in a ‘disillusioned’ state, and who takes care of her. While I thought the role didn’t have all to much to work with, he was certainly disappointing. Every emotion he emoted seemed fake, which hurt the film, because in a sea of great performances, the second biggest role was portrayed as wooden. On a side note, I would’ve loved to see Paul Rudd in this role. He not only looks the part, but would’ve been fantastic with this material, in my opinion.
James Marsden plays “Prince Edward“, in his best performance ever. He fit the role perfectly, and was hilarious. He had great chemistry with everyone he encountered, and stole every scene he was in. I was worried that he would do a bad job, because of his horrendous turns in other comedy films. See Interstate 60; probably the worst performance ever (i kid you not). Anyways, he certainly looked the part, and had a wonderful voice that carried throughout his musical scenes. A grand performance, and hopefully Marsden continues to work in musical films, because it seems to be his strong point.
Timothy Spall, one of the most underrated British talents by far, plays “Nathaniel“, the Queen’s chore boy. He transforms the himself into this character so flawlessly, that he deserves more recognition than he’s getting. It’s all about Adams and Marsden, but Spall was the true ‘comedic’ hero of the film. So many great scenes for him to work with, and a lot of varieties of character for him to create, makes this performance my favourite of the film.
Amy Adams plays “Giselle“, in her wonderful turn as a fairy tale princess in a modern society. I don’t understand what people were saying about her having “a wonderful transformation”. While the transformation she goes through is great, adapting to a realistic society, it wasn’t all that ‘transformed’, and more sudden than anything. From disillusioned to slightly less disillusioned… that’s it. That being said, it is a certain contender for the Oscar, and yes over Marion. I’d even place her over Marion, because while she gives an amazing performance, she also a)carries her voice majestically, b)gives the best performance as a princess… ever, and c)is so damn adorable. I was wrong to doubt Adams’ talent, and should’ve known better, because she is the best actress of this decade. (3/3 for me)
The technical aspects were very good. From the beautifully written songs, to the CGI, it was all done well.The cinematography was okay, but nothing too outstanding. Don Burgess did his job, and created a realistic feel to the film, but he didn’t have much to go on here.
The makeup was great. Though it is only used in a few scenes, it is very effective, and makes the actor look completely different, every time.
The costume design is wonderful, and ever so beautiful to look at. The eye candy is mainly perpetuated by Giselle, and her crafty wardrobe work. But other lovely costumes are found in every day society, a ball, and from the witch. Everything is done wonderfully, and for that it gets a nomination. The same goes for the Art Decoration, but to a lesser extent. It is lovely, but doesn’t get the opportunities to shine like the costumes. Only a few places looked wonderful, so it doesn’t get a nomination; mainly due to limited resources.
The sound was wonderful. Mixing instruments, melodic chirping, wonderful vocals, and police sirens together, to create an unrealistic realism that the film needed to achieve.
The score by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz was very simple, but also very nice. Like most Disney scores, it gives a fanatical feeling, as well as an uplifting melody that makes the film easy to swallow. Sadly, it sounded way too much like many other scores, so I wasn’t impressed at all by it.
Finally, the outstanding ‘tech’ from the movie was easily the original songs. I loved all five of them, and if this year weren’t so strong, they’d all get nominated. Amy Adams has a wonderful voice, so the three songs she sings were just so lovely to listen to, it’s beyond words. The other two were great, but I prefer “So Close” (Jon McLaughlin) [my second favourite from the film] to the ‘acclaimed’ song from the film “Ever Ever After (Carrie Underwood) [which i thought fit the film well. just didn’t appreciate this song all that much]. All in all, one of the best soundtracks of the year, for these songs alone, and I will try to get these songs a.s.a.p.
Golden Globe Nominations [Comedy/Musical]
Best Picture (#3)
Best Actress in a Leading Role – Amy Adams(#1!)
Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Timothy Spall or James Marsden (still debating) (#5)
Best Costume Design – (#3)
Best Original Song – That’s How You Know (#3)
5 Nominations and 1 Win
My Rating – 9/10 [yes, that high]