Film Reviews: Where the Wild Things Are (2009) and National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets (2007)

Film: Where the Wild Things Are
Released: 2009
Starring: Max Records; James Gandolfini (voice); Forest Whitaker (voice)
Director: Spike Jonz
Rating: Like a Star @ heaven Dire – don’t waste your time

Synopsis:
An adolescent named Max has an active imagination, and he will throw fits if others don’t go along with what he wants. Max – following an incident with Claire (his sister) and her friends, and following a tantrum which he throws as a result of his Mother paying more attention to her boyfriend than to him – runs away from home. Wearing his wolf costume at the time, Max not only runs away physically, but runs toward a world in his imagination. This world, an ocean away, is inhabited by large wild beasts, including one named Carol who is much like Max himself in temperament. Instead of eating Max like they normally would with creatures of his type, the wild things befriend Max after he proclaims himself a king who can magically solve all their problems.

Review:
I was rather disappointed in this family film. Visually, it was superb; the Wild Things were pretty much exact representations of those in the book and they were at least believable. The vocalisations were also wonderful, with a particularly good performance from James Gandolfini who was a great choice for Carol. Max Records was even well cast in the lead role of Max, acquitting himself very well in his portrayal of a young lad who is just a bit too wild for his mother’s liking. And the scenery was also marvellous; the land of the Wild Things was stunning, from the wild woods to the sweeping sands. So where was the film let down?

It was dull. Dull, dull, dull. I was pretty much bored out of my skull watching what I hoped would be a wonderfully whimsical film, but instead I was annoyed from the off by Max shouting “Feed me, woman!” at his mother (a smacked bottom would have ensued if I’d done that as a child!), and then numbed by the sense of absolutely nothing happening for the rest of the movie.

This one won’t be making it into the collection I’m building for my young son – I’ll stick to the book instead.

Film: National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets
Released: 2007
Starring: Nicholas Cage
Director:
Rating: Like a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heaven Excellent

Synopsis:
Several years since Benjamin Franklin Gates found the Knight’s Templar and became rich and famous. Now, another treasure hunter named Mitch Wilkinson has found what is a missing page of the diary of John Wilkes Booth, which contains clues to the location of a lost city of gold, Ben must compete against Mitch to find the lost city, he goes to France and Great Britain to find other clues and even peak inside the President’s secret book to put the pieces of the puzzle together, his parents and his friends also help Ben find the lost city and to stay one step ahead of Mitch.

Review:

I’ve seen this film multiple times now and it never fails to entertain. This is one of the rare occasions when a sequel actually manages to outshine the original that spawned it. The plot is far more fun (with a hilarious scene in Buckingham Palace – “Going to detain a blighter for enjoying his whiskey?”), and the action more frantically-paced. There’s also the inspired casting choice of the sublime Helen Mirren as Ben’s mother who is perfect foil to Jon Voigt as his father. It’s an adrenaline-fuelled treasure romp that grabs you with both hands from the off and does not let go till the very end, leaving you breathless but longing for more.

A third film is slated for release next year and I, for one, can hardly wait to see where it will take us!

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