Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Secret of Kells (2009)


As his uncle (Brendan Gleeson) builds a giant wall to protect his city's inhabitants, Brendan (Evan McGuire) sneaks out into the forbidden forest in order to help in the completion of the famed Book of Kells. Though on his adventures he befriends Aisling (Christen Mooney), one of the last remaining fairies.

"I've lived through many ages. I've seen suffering in the darkness. Yet I have seen beauty thrive in the most fragile of places. I have seen the book. The book that turns darkness into light." - Aisling

Visually stunning, maturely crafted, and wonderfully mystical, The Secret of Kells is an animated film I hate... because it's so damned close to being absolutely perfect. That's the best way I can sum up my reaction to Kells.

A collection of great moments, rushed together too quickly, leaving the backbone too frail (especially as the film sprints at epic pace to its ending). While the voice acting suffers from being dreadfully flat, a constant reminder it's only an animated film. Those two things are painful to admit, because I felt so much while watching the film that it was right there. Right on the cuff of greatness, and it just couldn't connect.

I say that noting the immense beauty of the film. The characters, especially Aisling, are captivating. Full of layers, complexity, and intrigue. The movie manages to be light hearted, and dark at the same time. The battle between Brandon and Crom Craunch towards the finale is perhaps one of the top animated scenes I've ever witnessed.

Perhaps that's what I would note most strongly about The Secret of Kells. It's great strengths lie in its unspoken sequences. I don't blame the general cast, most of which have never acted before, but I just felt so deprived given the depth taken in creating such a rich visual experience. Though that's not to say I don't wholeheartedly recommend the film to everyone who enjoys animated adventures.

There's a certain charm, and beauty, that allows the film to escape its lesser qualities. Constantly waring with itself to display its strengths. In the end, despite it all, it does manage to do that. Though perhaps not to the results we all so desperately desire, and the animation truly deserve.

Flat voice acting, and failure to support its plot with more arches, The Secret of Kells is an amazing visual feat, that barely escapes the down weight of its weaker elements.

3 better thoughts:

SugaryCynic said...

Where on earth did you did you get ahold of this movie?! I've been waiting for it forever! The voice-acting issues sound disappointing, but I'm still dying to see it

Robert said...

You're right, it's visually stunning, and while the voice acting is flat, there were some sequences that simply took my breath away. For example, the scene where I think the cat turns into mist while Aisling sings? So beautiful. It was a really refreshing film, it should be interesting to see what the director follows it up with.

free online cinema said...

The whole film is a thing of beauty and great imagination, I particularly love the animated illuminated book where the little figures come to life on the page.

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