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Gulliver's Travels is fun, a fantasy, not taking itself seriously light
comedy. You won't learn anything, you won't cry, you won't witness
historic cinema in the making. You will spend an hour and a half
watching an enjoyable family film that doesn't pretend to be anything
more than a fun adaptation of an age old tale by Jonathan Swift.
I marked the film 7 because I enjoyed watching it, isn't that enough? Must everything be critiqued so much that we lose enchanting family films that just cheer us up momentarily.
Sometimes; Now this might upset the media studies students who seem to be taking over IMDb, sometimes I don't want to have to concentrate on plots and sub plots, sometimes I just want watch a film and escape for a bit, is that OK with you, must everything be Cannes fodder? If you want to have fun and watch a dumb romantic comedy watch Gulliver's Travels, if you're an over serious sneering sceptic... don't. It's that simple.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
First things first: if you are watching Jack Black's version of
Gulliver's Travels because you're a fan of the original book, you might
want to skip it altogether. Gone is the literate and satirical edge
that has kept the story in print for over two centuries. Instead we
have a loud, brash, very "Hollywood" retelling in which the nearest we
get to satire is when Black topples backwards and squishes a
Lilliputian in his butt-crack. There are some very mildly amusing
moments in this film, but overall it is a regrettable example of the
direction major American studio releases seem to be heading. That is to
say: over-marketed, self-satisfied, bland nonsense, made with business
in mind and not the art of film-making itself.
Mailroom slacker Lemuel Gulliver (Jack Black) works in a huge Manhattan editorial office. He spends most of his time quoting movies, playing Guitar Hero, and wishing that gorgeous hotshot travel editor Darcy Siverman (Amanda Peet) will notice him. One day, Gulliver realises that he has spent the best part of ten years doing nothing with his life so to impress Darcy he takes on a minor assignment investigating strange goings-on in the Bermuda Triangle. During the trip, Gulliver's boat is caught up in a strange oceanic vortex and flung into a strange other-worldly kingdom known as Lilliput. Here the inhabitants are no bigger than insects and Gulliver appears as a fearsome giant. Soon he befriends the King (Billy Connolly), the Queen (Catherine Tate), the Princess (Emily Blunt), and an honourable prisoner (Jason Segel). But a slimy and untrustworthy military man, General Edward (Chris O'Dowd), refuses to buy Gulliver's tall stories and plots to rid the land of this new giant once and for all .
The fact that Jack Black is merely playing Dewey Finn from School Of Rock, and transposing the character to another film, is just the beginning of this film's problems. The overall acting talent wasted here is enough to make a grown man cry. Connolly fails to raise a single smile as the Lilliputian king, while Blunt (whose career so far has been refreshingly sure-footed) is reduced to the level of a ditsy bimbo. This will do her career no favours whatsoever. Segel, Peet and especially O'Dowd are all equally guilty of frittering away their talents in moronic roles. In terms of finding positive things to say about the film, at least the special effects are pretty good, and there are infrequent amusing moments (mainly references to other films, or sprinklings of toilet humour). Overall, though, that's about as positive as I can be. There's absolutely nothing wrong with the concept of modernising Jonathan Swift's novel, but not if it's to be reduced to this level of cheap vulgarity and simple-minded storytelling.
In the latest Gulliver go round ( there have been at least a dozen
variations since 1902) we have a production of enormous precise detail
vividly brought alive by state of the art special effects, grand set
design and lavish costuming all crushed by the uninspired casting of
the slobbering one note buffoon Jack Black in the title role. In his
pudgy mitts the Swiftian satire becomes another heavy handed,
predictable goof ball routine of sly eyed impishness and soft hearted
sweetness applied in the same manner as in the rest of his "zany"
Lemuel Gulliver sets out for the Bermuda Triangle to prove himself as a journalist and to win the heart of the girl of his dreams. Blown off course by a raging tropical storm he finds himself on the the tiny island of the tiny people, Liliput. Gaining their trust he is soon the rage of the land improving infrastructure and counseling the lovelorn. All goes well until he is challenged by General Edward and is humiliated before all who look up to him. Can Gulliver redeem himself? What's more important is that the filmmakers have enough story to fill the second half with fun pyrotechnics.
Black's cuddly bear, man child grows more tiresome with each performance and in Gulliver it's lights out early with the same boorish routine the ubiquitous media gadfly projects whether playing a role or doing an interview. Director Rob Letterman's film does have a precious look and he does inject some nice Python humor here and there but it is all obscured by Black's beached whale of a Gulliver. For lazy parents looking for a baby sitter, the film might serve as that crazy and funny uncle that can occupy the kiddies for two hours. Make sure though you send them with an older sibling. Unlike this loser of a film it will be a win, win for you to abstain.
Saw this one in 3D. First thing you should know: there's no reason to
pay the extra money for the 3D version as pretty much the coolest 3D
stuff I saw that day (saw it last Saturday afternoon) was on the
trailer of the new Transformers movie. Second thing you should know:
I'm not familiar at all with the book or with any of the other movies.
Maybe that's why I'm one of the few ones here in IMDb who gave more
than 4 stars to this movie.
Anyway, there's really nothing amazing going on here. The story is as predictable as you can imagine and well, Jack Black is yet again playing Jack Black. We all knew this, and frankly I don't think there's a person who can't tell how is this movie going to be like before seeing it.
I knew, and went to see it anyways as it was pretty much *the* movie of 2010's Christmas. I mean, I'm a sucker for Jack Black movies and even though the trailer never really convinced me, I had to check it out. Maybe The School of Rock and the Tenacious D movie (big fan of both) were more than enough for the punk rock Jack Black but it seems is inevitable to have him "rocking". So here some references to Guitar Hero and KISS are present. Jack Black is put as a sucker for rock music and movies, Star Wars especially. That simple thing delivers the best moments of the movie: Gulliver making the Lilliputians act Stars Wars and Titanic and perform as KISS. It ain't pop culture references heaven but definitely delivers the goods (also some Avatar references were funny).
Gulliver's Travels may not be Jack Black's funniest movie, but in the end it was just what I expected: a decent family entertainment that will be soon forgotten but that is enjoyable to watch.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Ever since I saw the trailer I wanted to see Gulliver's Travels. I love
Jack Black. I love Amanda Peet. I love the story. Turning Gulliver's
Travels into a 3D movie seemed like an excellent idea
The story begins in New York. Jack Black Star Wars and Guitar Hero geek - has been working for ten years in the mailroom of a big publishing company. He's secretly in love with an editor for travel stories (Amanda Peet) and applies for a writing job just to impress her. He gets it eventually by stealing text from an article from the Time Out website. Soon he heads for the Bermudas for his try-out assignment, writing about a man who knows the secret of the Bermuda Triangle. Jack almost dies in a big storm and ends up on a beach surrounded by mini people. Yes, Jack has arrived in Lilliput Land where he will become the hero who saves the land from a nearby evil kingdom. No spoiler there.
Jack Black is the guy you love to love. And as a fan you really hope that Gulliver's Travels is as good as the trailer promises. Unfortunately, it isn't. Although Jack must use his dick to stop a catastrophe (like in the original book)and he gets a tiny Lilliputian right in his arse, this actually is a family friendly movie. Too bad, I think, because the story that is presented is too safe to be satisfactory entertaining and is almost without any suspense or surprises. The best part is the opening credits. Here we see famous scenes from Manhattan filmed with a special camera lens so it all resembles a miniature city. It's an almost poetic beginning that is in firm contrast with the rest of the story, that seems chaotic and rushed.
When Jack arrives in Lilliput Land he does all the things you expect him to do. He starts out as a prisoner. Becomes the hero. Falls out of grace and leaves the Lilliput island, only to return and be the hero one more time by entering a Wild Wild West like confrontation. Some of the fun scenes with the tiny Lilliputians really work. The table-soccer scene for instance, as seen in the trailer. And there's also a nice scene in a theater that includes some funny spoofs on famous 20th Century Fox movies like Empire Strikes Back and Titanic. In Lilliput Land Jack makes his own Times Square, complete with posters from famous movies and musicals. Real funny.
The problem with Gulliver's Travels is that all the elements are there. The advantages of being a giant. The love story. The scene with the boats on a string. But why is the story so unimaginatively predictable? Just when things become interesting, a different problem should be solved by our hero. The story goes to the left, then to the right and could therefor use more scenes that prepare you for all the exciting things that are about to happen. Nice example of this is when Jack gets banned from Lilliput island. He's moved away by boat and arrives in a land not filled with tiny people but with very well, you can do the maths. It all happens so sudden and his escape from this island goes even faster. No suspense here. And then the main love story. That Jack Black really fancies Amanda Peet, that I can understand. I also believe the fact that Amanda Peet thinks Jack Black is a real nice bloke. But that she's secretly in love with him as well mmm, that wasn't convincing at all.
True. Gulliver's Travels wasn't made to earn Oscars. And in the end it's a nice family movie for the upcoming holidays. But with a better script, better editing, a less moralistic ending and a more outrageous Jack Black this could have been big. Now it's just another blockbuster special effects comedy that you will almost have forgotten the moment you leave the cinema.
2010 marks the year that 20th Century Fox hits rock bottom. With this
movie, if you can even call this a movie, Fox has become a degenerate
studio catering to drooling imbeciles with any lack of taste for films
Before I review this film in proper, let me list down Fox's 'achievements' for 2010: 1. John Davis. Enough said. This so-called 'uber-producer' who produces schlock for 20th Century Fox and its incumbent incompetent chairman, Tom Rothman, is no Jerry Bruckheimer or Brian Grazer. Look at his list of crap-fest. Garfield? Dr Dolittle? Marmaduke? Norbit? Daddy Day Camp? And now this? He must be the king of talking animal flicks and that includes Jack Black. Can someone please stop him from producing anymore nonsensical rubbish? 2. Tom Rothman. The man responsible for micromanaging and mismanaging every single Fox misfire this year. Stipulating all films to run under 2 hours? Prince Caspian was a masterpiece at 140 minutes and Dawn Treader sunk under its light weight at 110 minutes. Same goes for X3. Whatever happened to the 131 minute of a superhero epic we got for X2? Changing the title of 'Knight and Day'? And now a marketing executive takes the blame for the film's underwhelming box office returns? Real smooth, Tom, real smooth. Way to go for being a great helmsman in charge.
3. Every flick that 20th Century Fox put out somehow fizzled at the box office. A-Team, Knight and Day, Marmaduke, Wall Street, Percy Jackson. Not a good lineup considering that the studio is celebrating its 75th anniversary. Not one classic. In comparison, look at Paramount's 1987's lineup for its 75th Anniversary. The Untouchables, Planes Trains and Automobiles, Fatal Attraction, Beverly Hills Cop 2. Now, this is the way to go! I digress. Now back to Gulliver's Travels. The biggest problem with this flick is that everything about it is cringe-worthy. 'Gavatar'? 'Homages' to practically all successful Fox movies? This is pure shameless self-promotion and self-aggrandizement I have ever seen. If this is a contemporary update of Swift's classic novel, it has failed utterly and miserably.
Jack Black's ego is the problem here. He's still acting as a good-for-nothing slacker who plays rock music all day long. Basically, he's a momma's boy who has yet to grow up. Trying to play off his 'School of Rock' persona, I guess he wants to cater to the young. I mean, the breakout into the rock number at the end of the film, serves as an embarrassing reminder that Black needs to find an exit fast.
Emily Blunt is being reduced to nothing more than a pea-brained princess whose intelligence rivals that of Hugh Laurie's 'Prince mini-brain' in the Blackadder series. What a disappointing turn from a hugely talented actress.
Jason Segal is still holding on to a job? All in all, a really awful cinematic experience. Extremely forgettable. This film should be analysed in film classes or even in movie executive conference rooms as to how not to make a film.
In my lifetime, I've seen a few previous adaptations of "Gulliver's Travels", 1) a series of short cartoons by Hanna-Barbera on the "Banana Splits" TV program, 2) the Max Fleischer animated feature from 1939, and 3) the NBC miniseries starring Ted Danson. And so, I've now seen this new movie starring Jack Black which, unlike the others I've just mentioned, initially takes place in modern day-New York City where the title character is a mail room deliverer who yearns to be a writer for the newspaper he works for but doesn't always put himself out there. Oh, and he also has a crush on the stunning editor (Amanda Peet) whose office he always passes through despite not always having mail for her. Anyway, when he finally bluffs his way through an assignment, Black's Gulliver uses a boat to go to the Bermuda Triangle where he finds himself shipwrecked to an island...Guess where he winds up? Okay, I didn't expect this movie to be faithful to the book at all especially judging from the previews so I wasn't too disappointed on that point. And I did find many scenes-especially those that parodied Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Titantic, and the rock group KISS-pretty funny. And Black, along with supporting players Emily Blunt, Jason Segel, and occasionally Ms. Peet provide their moments. But if this was your first time encountering Lemuel Gulliver, you'd definitely wonder what was so classic about the book he's in (assuming you even knew about it). Actually, I admit I only read about his adventures in Lilliput and Brobdingnag since the book I borrowed from my elementary school library was condensed to only those two adventures though like I said, I did see the Ted Danson miniseries that also had his other travels. So in summary, if you know what to expect from Jack Black, you probably won't be too disappointed. Others, beware...
There is something brilliant about this project, something absolutely
brilliant. You will find it hard to locate in the storm of distracting
bad decisions elsewhere.
The bad? Well, you can read about that elsewhere. A cheap film factory and story meets the three Jack Black jokes.
The clever idea is this: Black plays a character who is a repressed nobody. In his own apartment, he acts out dramas from films with his collection of action figures. He goes to sleep, and dreams maybe not because the fantasy doesn't need an explanation. He ends up in a land full of people the size of his action figures.
Once there, he tells them stories about himself drawn from all those movies, with him as the hero. They believe him of course. This is somewhat interesting. The brilliant part is how he inverts the inversion, by having the little people on stage reproducing scenes from the films with him as the hero. Later, they build him a replica of his real world as filtered through this lens.
The idea is pretty cool, and would have been worthy of something like "Synecdoche" and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
How this could have been spliced to Swift's original vision is too delicious. Swift was vulgar, offensive and unsettling in his truths. There is none of Swift here. I actually would have preferred seeing Travolta's Scientology disaster again rater than this. Cool idea though.
Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.
I now know that the book Gulliver's Travels, written by Jonathan Swift
(1667-1745) in 1726, is a sharp social and political critic against the
contradictory customs from British government, but when I read it as a
kid, I simply found it to be an entertaining fantasy story with
imaginative situations and interesting adventures. Unfortunately, the
recent film version of Gulliver's Travels is very boring, and not even
the presence of Jack Black (whose style of comedy I usually enjoy),
could save it from its absolute mediocrity.
The screenplay from Gulliver's Travels is mainly a collection of unfunny jokes based on the contrast between the main character and his "hosts", not only in regard of his huge size, but also in his condition of "fish outside the water". Oh, and everything gets worse when we lead to the terribly ridiculous ending.
On the positive side, I have to mention that I liked the special effects. However, that was not enough to compensate the boredom this generic and insipid movie provoked on me, so in conclusion, I do not feel like I can recommend it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A great classic story ruined by the Hollywood egomaniacs. With hundreds
of movies on television we made the mistake of venturing out on a
horrible day to watch this new version of Gulliver. Well here's my
review, I have just sat through this boring awful movie with my
grandson and consider it was a complete waste of time and £20-00. There
is nothing good I can say about this film. It goes to show that once
again the usual holiday hype has worked and people are being hooked in
to pay good money to watch rubbish.
It is sad that with all the money this movie must have cost to make, the final result has turned out to be so dismal. Jack Black is mediocre as Gulliver and unfortunately the rest of the cast look like they are working under duress for an appearance fee. The one exception is Chris O Dowd who stands out as the only redeeming thing in what has to be this year's Christmas turkey.
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