Saturday, January 22, 2011

Movie Review: The Secret of Kells

When I really got into anime four years ago I was only interested in Japanese animation and didn't bother to look at animation from the rest of the world. After all, I had been generally unimpressed with American animation for years and didn't know that much about animation from the rest of the world, but recently I've become curious about what the rest of the world is producing. The funny thing is that I still find out about most foreign animation through anime websites like this movie. I believe I heard about it when it was nominated for an Oscar, looked at the trailer, thought it looked fairly cool, and then forgot about it. But recently I was browsing through Netflix and came across this streaming and got around to watching it with my mom and I think we both enjoyed it.

The Secret of Kells

Summary: Brendan is a young monk in an abby in a remote village in Ireland who wants to become an illuminator. He clashes however with his uncle, the Abbot Cellach, who is obsessed with building a wall to surround the village and protect it from Viking attacks. 

The Good: The movie has a much more cohesive plot line than I thought which, while basic, works and makes this a movie, not just a very nice looking series of images. Upon browsing tvtropes I discovered a lot of little details in the movie I hadn't noticed earlier (like a lot of references to Irish fairy tales and poetry) so this was a well thought out movie as well. Also, I remember when I was a kid I could always find a fantasy or two set in Ireland but that's not the case these days so it was nice to have a little nostalgia moment while watching this. I can see myself enjoying this movie as a kid (even if it would've scared me a bit*) and being able to recommend a movie to a wide range of age groups is a good thing.

The Bad: One thing that did bother me about the movie was how most of the movie seemed to take place over a few days and then towards the end there's a five or ten year time skip and then the movie ends. It's a bit jarring, if necessary, and I really don't know how to pace that bit better but it did seem odd. There were also a few things about the movie, mostly small references but one or two things considering Aisling as well, that I didn't understand until I looked them up. This isn't a bad thing per say, but people who are big fans of Irish mythology are going to enjoy this movie more than someone who isn't.

The Art: If you're watching this movie, chances are you're watching it for the art and it's very interesting to look at. I'm not sure if the whole movie is CGI or a CGI/traditional animation combination but the animation itself has a different kind of movement to it than I'm used to seeing in either US or Japanese animation. The art itself is very stylized and detailed while still using very basic shapes (visually the most similar thing I can think of is Kemono no Souja Erin/Beast Player Erin's more stylized sequences) and is simply gorgeous. I would recommend this movie to people based on the art alone and wouldn't mind buying this on Blu-Ray just so I could stare at the imagery again.

The Music: I didn't notice that much music in the movie actually, I'm sure there was plenty of background music but I was too distracetd by the visuals to hear it. The one bit that stood out was Aisling's song about Pangur Bán and while that was a neat song I didn't really get it until I discovered it was partially in Gaelic (well, I still don't understand what she was singing but point made). If I saw the movie again I'm sure I'd notice the music more but the visuals really outshone it. 

Sorry if this review sounds a bit disjointed, I've had a headache for most of the day so it's a little hard to focus but I really wanted to get this review done and out of the way. Originally I was hoping to get two done today and tomorrow but it looks like that won't be happening. I'll get at least one done tomorrow and fingers crossed that it'll be two but no promises!

*But honestly that's more because I was easily freaked out as a kid, you'd laugh if you heard how long Fern Gully gave me nightmares....