Thursday, December 10, 2009

Movie Review: The Secret of Kells

The Secret of Kells ***
Directed By:
Tomm Moor.
Written By: Tomm Moore & Fabrice Ziolkowski.
Starring: Brendan Gleeson (Abbot Cellach), Liam Hourican (Brother Tang / Leonardo), Mick Lally (Aidan), Michael McGrath (Adult Brenda), Evan McGuire (Brendan), Christen Mooney (Aisling), Paul Tylack (Brother Assoua), Paul Young (Brother Square).

The Secret of Kells is a refreshing old fashioned animated life. Not only is the film not filled wall to wall with computer effects, but wonderful looking, hand drawn animation, but the story is winningly old fashioned as well. It is a dark fantasy, yet perfectly good for kids. There is more excitement in this film than in most animated films that work so hard at being funny and colorful from beginning to end that they induce headaches.

The film is about Brendan (with the voice of Evan McGuire), a young boy living in a monastery in Ireland during the time of the Vikings. His Uncle, the Abbot Cellach (Brendan Gleeson), spends all of his time fortifying the walls of their town of Kells in the hopes that the wall will hold off the inevitable invasion by the Vikings. Brendan is a curious boy, but he does what he is told – which is to stay inside the walls and not cause trouble. That is until Brother Aidan (Mick Lally), and his strange cat arrive. Aidan is legendary, as he has been working on a book that will bring light to the world for years. Now old, he has been run out of his hometown by the Vikings, and found his way to Kells to see his old student Cellach. But Cellach has no time for such silly things as books. But to Brendan, Aidan is the most exciting thing that has happened in a long time. On an errand for him, Brendan ventures into the surrounding forest where he meets Aisling (Christen Mooney), an eccentric young woman with long flowing white hair, who knows every inch of the forest, and refers to it as hers.

The film has a wonderful visual look. The characters all have distinctive appearances, not quite looking real, but more like moving geometric shapes. The animation has a flow to it that is wonderful, especially in the scenes in the forest, a magical atmosphere is created. The eventual siege of the town by the Vikings is told almost entirely in blacks and reds – the Vikings are all black except for their glowing red eyes, and as they burn the town to the ground, it is engulfed by flames.

I have a feeling that if kids see this movie (and that’s doubtful as it’s only getting a cursory release to qualify it for the Oscars this year), they will enjoy the story of the young boy on an adventure. It’s not a million miles away from something like The Sword and the Stone.

The movie is short, which helps to make the time pass quickly, but also has the effect of rushing through a little too much at points. Particularly the ending feels rushed, as if the filmmakers just wanted to end the movie instead of truly exploring its characters and what really happened. But no matter, The Secret of Kells is a refreshing animated film – one that kids will enjoy, and adults will as well. Let’s just hope they get a chance to see it.

No comments:

Post a Comment