Sunday, May 3, 2015

James and the Giant Peach

Movie Name: James and the Giant Peach
Year of Release: 1996
Director: Henry Selick
Stars: Paul Terry, Miriam Margolyes, Joanna Lumley, Jane Leeves, Richard Dreyfuss, Susan Sarandon, Pete Postlethwaite, David Thewlis, Steven Culp, Simon Callow,
Genre: Animation, Fantasy, Adventure
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 9

Following the success of "The Nightmare Before Christmas", Henry Selick returned with an adaptation of Roald Dahl's book of the same title. The story focuses on young James, who after the passing of his parents, ends up living with two aunts, who basically enslave him and for him to do all sorts of hard labor. James dreams of moving to New York, something he and his parents always dreamed of doing. After saving a spider, James comes into possession of some magical elements, after which an enormous giant peach starts growing in the garden. When James ventures inside the giant peach, he discovers a series of new friends, who end up helping him planning his escape and move to NY.
The fantasy and fantastical world of Roald Dahl comes to life through the unique perspective of Henry Selick. The director and his unique aesthetic, allow this story to marry perfectly the live action component which starts the film, and the progression into the stop motion animation that defines the rest of the feature. There's a beautiful but also dark tone to this film, which starts with the loss of the young hero's parents, through his imprisonment, but also the reverse of that, with the discovery of a new family comprised of protective friends, and the accomplishment of his dreams, as he eventually finds and moves into New York. His odyssey is filled with discovery and adventure, making the film enthusiastically dynamic and engaging. It's a perfect combination of a fantastic aesthetic, score and voice work. A very good film worth watching!