A large duck (burger_eater) wrote,
A large duck


Borrowed this DVD from the library for a second time, since Mango Eater refused to watch it at first. This time I sat down with my wife and saw the first half. We liked it enough that I watched the opening again with the boy on Sunday so all three of us could see the finale on Monday night.

It's a good movie, even though I'm pretty sure it's a miniseries made for British TV. It has a coherent visual style, genuine flair in the way it's directed, special effects that look good and serve the story without going into sensory overload, and strong performances.

It also doesn't quite work at the same time and I've been thinking quite a lot about why.

The plot is basic: Mysterious supernatural figures hire the assassin's guild to kill the Hogfather, Discworld's version of Santa Claus. The contract is given to Mr. Teatime, a childlike psychopath with an idea of how the job might be accomplished, and a select number of Discworld residents, including Death himself, try to stop him.

It's a story that purports to be about belief, but it's really about how we see the world and how other people see us in the roles we play. Is Susan a clever governess who tricks frightened kids that she's beaten up the monster in the basement by bashing around and making a lot of noise, or is she Death's granddaughter taking a poker to Bogey-men? Is Mr. Teatime really the murderous innocent he seems to be? Can Death really fill in for Santa Claus?

And yeah, it works. It's inventive and clever, and most importantly it's full of sharply-drawn characters. But it's also a very meandering story. For a tale with so much at stake and such a hard and fast deadline, the camera spends a lot of time hanging out with peripheral characters, playing out humorous Pratchettian chat, and stringing out story beats.

All of which undercuts the tension in the dramatic scenes, and fritters away the sense of urgency the music and direction evoke.

It's a good movie. Better yet, it's an interesting movie, and Salad Eater wants to own it so we can watch it every year, like IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE. Watch it, if you get the chance.
Tags: film

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