Monday, 23 May 2016

Review: Robinson Crusoe





Robinson Crusoe (aka The Wild Life) (2D)
Cert: PG / 90 mins / Dir. Vincent Kesteloot & Ben Stassen / Trailer



Now I know this film had opened the previous week, and that I was watching it on the first weekend of Angry Birds, but when a 10am screening of a new kids movie plays to just three people (including me), it's not a great sign of consumer confidence. This doesn't necessarily reflect directly on the film, but it's definitely a marketing misfire…

So, animation studio nWave's retooling of Daniel Defoe's classic shipwreck tale is a brave punt, given the market for more modern fare, and the artistic license required for this facelift comes in the form of the island's talking animal inhabitants, as Robinson's tale is told retrospectively through a framing device, by his parrot Tuesday (do you see what they've done there?). Unfortunately, more attention seems to have gone into animating the film's creatures than it has the human characters (and there are plenty of humans on display, here). Normally I'd wonder if this could be a narrative twist, juxtaposing the audience's pre-conceived notions of reality, but the film's writing just doesn't back that up. nWave's work is detailed and textured enough, but it often has a stiff, jerky quality which feels like a videogame cut-scene rather than a feature movie presentation.

Other problems (okay, for me) include the fauna-contingent of the entire island's eco-system comprising of seven animals of completely separate species, although I suspect this was more for budgetary reasons than creative ones. This might also be the first adventure movie in history to 'kill the dog'. Not even Roland Emmerich's disaster flicks have got the cojones to go that far. And it may well be a plot point in the book (I can't remember and haven't checked, frankly), but it's not like this is a canonical retelling of the story which has to desperately cling to every other detail.

Best bit? Robinson's aforementioned dog, Aynsley, describing to the parrot in a Scottish accent that "his island" is called England (ie, not Britain, and certainly not Scotland*1). I don't imagine this apparent lack of attention to detail was orchestrated to piss off the viewers north of the border, but I've no doubt that's the effect it'll have.

Robinson Crusoe is sweet enough, and is a valiant effort at breathing new life into classic literature, but the spark of greatness just isn't there. It would probably make an interesting companion to the original work, but couldn't hope to replace it.

To be perfectly honest, you'd be better off spending the same money on The Angry Birds Movie and then asking yourself why video games seem to be winning out over books…



So, watch this if you enjoyed?
Mediocre animation like Capture The Flag or Home.


Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
Nope.


Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
Not particularly.


Is this the best work of the cast or director?
Don't know for sure, but I hope not.


Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
Oh, probably not.


Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
Nope.


Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 1: Robinson Crusoe is vocally performed (in the English language-version of the film, at least) by Yuri Lowenthal, who provided voice-work in Star Wars: The Old Republic.
No, it counts. No, you shut up.


And if I HAD to put a number on it…


*1 Robinson himself isn't Scottish, you understand. He just has an apparently Scottish dog who doesn't know what Scotland is.

DISCLAIMERS:
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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