Monday, April 26, 2004

DVD Review: Tim Burton's BIG FISH

Now out on the popular DVD format: 

BIG FISH (Dir. Tim Burton, 2003)

While this movie is being touted in its trailers as “from the imagination of Tim Burton” it should be noted that it was adapted by screenwriter John August from the book by Chapel Hill native Daniel Wallace, and it was originally developed as a project by Steven Spielberg. 

Edward Bloom (Albert Finney) amuses everyone with his elaborate tall tales except for his son Will (Billy Crudup).

As his father is most certainly on his death bed, Crudup is struggling for some truth for once and attempts to sort out the reality from the fantasy.

Apart from the storybook fantasy sequences, one of the best things the movie has going for it is the casting of Ewan McGregor as the young Edward. Particularly effective because McGregor looks almost exactly like Finney did when he was younger. Take a look at TOM JONES (1963) if you don’t believe me.

What keeps this movie from truly being a classic is some of the hazy plot threads and the less than fully fleshed out characters. Poet Norther Winslow (Steve Buscemi) seems like he was created just for a reason for Buscemi to lend his punchy prescence, Helen Bonham Carter plays two underdeveloped roles which may be the same character - I'm not sure, and the choice of a unaffecting Pearl Jam song to end the proceedings with doesn't help either.

That said this is still a fine film and only persnickety film geeks like me would harp on such matters. The real emotion displayed here (especially in the last half hour) wins over even the most cynical critic, and I have a distinct feeling that time will be good to this elaborate tall tale.
Danny Devito, Jessica Lange, and Robert Gulliaume round out the cast. 

Special Features: A disappointing commentary in which Burton is interviewed by some British guy who wrote a book on Burton (Burton On Burton) on top of the movie instead of a preferred straight Burton talking directly about the action on screen. Nevertheless it provides some insights, but the featurettes are pretty inessential and the trivia game is...well I didn't even check it out, I mean who puts a DVD in the player to play some damn trivia game?!!? I sure as Hell don't.

More later...

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