James and the Giant Peach (1996)
User ReviewsReview this title
The reason why I would say these two books are my favorites is because they're both about children who live miserable lives until a magical experience changes their lives forever and both end up becoming the luckiest kids in the world. For Charlie, his life changes with a tour of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, but for James it's with a magical giant peach and group very friendly creatures.
I first remember hearing about this movie back in late 1996 when it was released in America during the Christmas holidays and I was very excited about it, but unfortunately I had to wait until the Easter Holidays before this movie arrived in Australia. I certainly loved it. James's two horrible aunt's who are nothing except cruel and nasty. Are as horrible in the movie as they are in the book.
I really loved the creatures from the peach which I remember (from the book) James describing them as "The friendliest creatures in the world". These creatures include Grasshopper, Earthworm, Centipede, Ladybug, Spider and Glowworm. My two favorite character's are Spider because her French accent made her a very smooth character and Centipede because of his sense of humor.
I also liked the songs. My favorite was "We're Family" which the creatures use to express how much they love James. I certainly believe these creatures are the best family any child could have. So for anyone who loved Roald Dahl's books as a child, you must...must see this film!
After the sugar and sweet opening, including a hair raising song in the very worst Disney Style, Burton and Dahl break in and off we go, on an adventure that is fun and cheeky and in which not all the sharp edges have been blunted, thank Goodness.
Before we can go on a journey with the Giant Peach however, first Little James have to be orphaned. And he is, in a matter of fact voice-over that makes for a surprise element here. A bold way to get the plot in motion, and it works ! Many keep on wandering what or who that rhino was, that took the life of the parents just like that, on a whim. Well, anybody can be swept away by the rhino in the sky, or so the nasty aunties will have you believe anyway...
The visuals are stunning, the dialogues are bubbling fizzing electrical fun and brought wonderfully and lovingly by a great cast, and direction is clear cut, sharp and focused.
A lovely film, that makes you wonder what is Selnick & Burton and what's genuine Roald Dahl.
A splendid film that makes you go out and want to read a great book (again). What more can we possibly ask of a peach?
Hmmm, well ... about that Rhino in the stormy clouds ... Maybe ... If it's based in Britain, couldn't we tempt it to take a holiday somewhere in, say, Bora Bora or the Halls of Montezuma ? The English are quite accustomed to their climate, but their rhino gives us, here in the Lowlands, more than our share of rain and sleet too !!!
My only real complaint would be with the ending, as it really is unclear how the aunts drove across the ocean (did they obtain their own crocodile tongues?), and the slice of NY upon landing has a grim, Munchkin-town quality. Still, everything up to that point has left you with lots of goodwill towards the movie's makers.
Starts out live-action, than it seagues into stop-motion animation. Some of the scenes are very memorable (the pirate attack) and the voices are delightful. Not as good as Nightmare Before Christmas, but every bit as imaginative.
As far as the story, I confess that I've never read the book that it's based on, but I found parts of it charming, and other parts a bit strange. Ok, the abused orphan boy, and magical giant peach, leading to boy's escape to NY is very nice. The fantasy elements are introduced by these glowing green seeds which produce the peach.. and therefore everything inside is fantasy. But what about these other absurities? What's with the mechanical shark? What's this rhinocerous that comes from a storm cloud and kills James' parents?
Don't get me wrong, I love absurdities. But I also like consistency and this movie just seems to have no guidelines of what should be fantasy and what should be reality.
Sad but true, the most entertaining aspect of this film was the amusement I received from James' speech impediment, ("I'm not afwaid of you!"). On a side note, just like "Nightmare before Christmas", the animation is great! But this movie sadly needed some Burton and Elfman touches.
The animation, featuring stop-action stick figures, is outstanding, as are the colors. Each character is unique, like none I've seen before in other animated flicks. Not only the characters, but how they are dressed. (i.e. long gloves and stockings on a spider). The aunts in here are a real hoot to look at, particularly the one with the pronounced teeth.
The storyline is simple and there is absolutely nothing offensive including no typical Disney New Age baloney. The only warning I would give is there is a bit too much violence for very small kids and the ending is a bit silly for adults.
This is a musical, which I did not expect, and the songs are nothing special. There are not a lot of them: five to be exact. In all, good entertainment and a good visual and audio film for a nice DVD system.
This film has so much set up with no pay off and leaves things that are crucial parts of the story unexplained or illogical. For instance, what was that giant rhino and if it was just smoke and noise how did it eat the parents? What was the mechanical shark? Where did Pete Postlethwaite's character come from? See what I mean?
In all honesty, the animation was fantastic and the sets did have a Tim Burton-esque feel to them, but that is about it.
If you are looking for a clumsy, unorganized and not too thought out movie, than look no further than "James and the Giant Peach".
'James and the Giant Peach' by Roald Dahl is one of my favorite books. And I'm glad I got to read it before I watched the movie, because it's many times better. The movie's animation, character design, and visual effects are wonderful, but it pretty much stops there.
Secondly, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." I could say that about so many movie adaptations of books, and this is one of them. I wonder if the screenwriters even READ the book before they wrote this? So many parts of the book were missing, and sorely missed. I was distraught that the Cloud Men (who appear during the best part of the book) were replaced by ghost pirates. Ghost pirates have been done too many times, but how many times have you seen Cloud Men? And what was with that mechanical shark, and the rhino in the clouds? In the book, the rhino (which killed James' parents) escaped from the zoo, but in the movie it just appears out of nowhere. And then we have Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker, who were done away with early on in the book, somehow went across the Atlantic ocean in an old car. All I have to say is, "What?"
Randy Newman music is good in stuff like Toy Story movies, but here it'll make you be thankful for the fast forward button. The songs really have no reason for being there, and you won't miss a thing when you skip them.
Aside from that, this was a pretty fine film, but why did the writers stray so much from the book? True, a movie adaptation doesn't have to follow everything in the book it's based on (like 'Willy Wonka'), but it needs to follow just enough.
But I did like the Centipede. Just as nasty as he was when I read about him!
I guess the animation was cool, but the music was annoying. Let's be honest, Disney hasn't made any memorable songs since The Lion King. The music in this basically sucked. The song, "My Name Is James," was annoying. It just kept saying "James, James, James . . ." to the point where you would just want to put your fist through the movie screen. This movie could have been a lot better, and I guess it should have lived more up to the book. I don't know. It's just my opinion. I could be wrong.
james (paul terry) is a nice and quite moral little boy who has two loving parents. while near the beach, he and his mom get killed (although this is not shown since it's a pg film) by a rhinoceros. yes this is a fantasy film in part and there are many magical elements in the film. james custody then is then taken over by two ugly aunts: aunt spiker (joanna lumley from "absolutely fabulous" fame) and aunt sponge (miriam margolyes) who are classic examples of adults who abuse their children. they are the classic example of the trash and evil nature that exist in all wretched adults who seek exploit others for their wealth. in fact, james's aunts use him as basically a slave to work around the house. they starve him and feed the breadcrumbs that are in the trash. they yell at him when james wants to make new friends and talk to kids who he can't relate to. nah it doesn't get much lower than quality of life aunt sponge and aunt spiker have on james. one day a mysterious man gives james a mysterious bag full of crocodile tongues I believe, which he says are magic and can make James dreams come true. In this case, James dream was to go to New York City and see Empire State Building. It was actually both James parent's dreams and James dream. However, even though James parent's are long gone, James still wants to go to New York an accomplish the dream he and his parents set out to do. This is one impressive kid, he has a big heart and the kind of determination that almost no adults have nowadays. That's one lesson of the film right there , which is not to give up on one's dream, it's literally embodied in this great kid.
So this special bag of magic combines with a small peach to grow into a gigantic peach which Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker capitalize for their own selfish profits!!!! Now if you think this made James's life any easier youd be wrong. Nope James's life continues as before, even worse as his rich selfish Aunt have become greedier and more manipulative and more vindictive. It's hard to believe that these "aunts" are the blood relative of James. Now before I go on, I couldn't help but think of James and Harry Potter. Sure Harry Potter was an orphan, but he and James are taken in by their slimy relatives who basically want to exploit and abuse them without any rights whatsover. Potter eventually escapes his vile relatives and so does James. Potter becomes one of the most loved characters at Hogwarts and James also near the end (without revealing too much) becomes one of the most loved kids in the world. Anyhow James interests in the peach grows huge to the point with the aid of the magic bad of tongues , James becomes magically converted to small size and invades the beach. Inside the beach, James discovers a group of zany characters all symbolizing common day insects who have now made James the center of attention. James meeting the characters of Mr. Grasshopper (Simon Callow), Mr. Centipede (Richard Dreyfuss), Ms. Ladybug (Jane Leeves from Frasier), Ms. Spider (Susan Sarandon), learns that they have been watching him as he is mistreated by his aunts and know that James dreams of going to New York City. Eventually James learns that the characters not only want to go with him but they are going to help him on his journey as well. This is a great movie about friendship as well. Let's face facts it's not likely James would have gone to New York on his own, but these group of wonderful friends give the help and encouragement to do it, when he needs it.
When James and the group decide on a plan to go to New York City, they're journey is stalled by several dangerous adventures which include a metallic shark, dead caribbean pirates, and the hazardous condition which threaten to end their journey. However that isn't stopping anyone and James and his friends, as a group are determined to make it New York and James is determined to make his and his parents dream come true....
As you can see you can describe the movie any better than better, and the movie itself is loaded with amazing special effects that elevate this entertaining fantasy world that James has now come into contact with. In fact when I first looked at the effects, I thought I was watching another classic fantasy film like in "The Nightmare Before Christmas", and guess what both films were directed by the same great director, Henry Selick. I was success and an eye for greatness embodied in fantasy is a signature for Selick. He really outdoes himself here.
Sony Imageworks and a trio of great animators provide the stop motion technology and animation that make the world of James and The Giant Peach so fantastic. Speaking of fantastic the voice talents in this film are all great with Sarandon, Dreyfuss , Leeves, and David Thewlis as Mr. Earthworm are great, you can tell that they captured the characters really well, but the person who outshines them is Paul Terry as James, he give's quite a performance and I couldn't think anyone better to do the role he did.
So as you can see James and The Giant Peach is far from being just a kids flick, it's that kind of stupid attitude that shows the true ignorance of so called critics who we'll miss out on the many meanings of films like "James and The Giant Peach". In fact one critic even mentioned that the film brings up ideas by Karl Marx for example the relationship of the slave, and master which are true in some regard, but above this a film that really does capture the spirit of having a dream and not quitting until he or she achieves that dream, because as you watch the ending, you can see in the ending, that James's dream really affects many people, not just himself.
I could go and on about how great "James and The Giant Peach" but I think I've nailed everything good about it, all that's left now is to recommend the film to those who haven't seen it.
Ah, the DVD is excellent coming up with several extra features:
*Behind the scenes on the making of the movie
* A special music video by Randy Newman who wrote several songs for the movie
* A beautiful transfer of the movie shown in letterbox format.
* About 13 character sketches on the characters themselves giving a glimpse
into the artistic process of the film
* Dolby Digital Surround sound.
As you can see a good DVD definitely worth checking out especially if you want more details about the film.
1) The beginning was quite dark and might frighten younger kids along with other scenes.
2) The rhino in the sky and the scene where James battles it wasn't explained enough. That's it for the criticism.
The positive aspects of this movie were excellent. The live action sets and the stop-motion animation have an astounding charm to the book. The character designs are pretty unique and the Jack Skellington cameo as the captain of the skeletons was amazing. The acting is very superb. The stop-motion insects were good, the two mean aunts named Spike and Sponge were tolerable, and the main character James is very likable. Even the action is very good. Music/songs written by Randy Newman (The Toy Story trilogy, The Princess and the Frog) were surprising good. Although not a masterpiece, James and the Giant Peach is an enjoyable family entertainment that stays faithful to the story from a great author.
In 1996, "James and the Giant Peach", was turned into a live-action/stop-motion animated film. The movie was directed by Henry Selick and produced by Tim Burton (They both worked on The Nightmare Before Christmas). This is one of my favorite movies.
The story was good, the character's were likable, and the animation was great. It combines computer-animation with stop-motion animation. But what also make's this movie really great is Randy Newmans song's in the movie. They were fun and memorable.
Overall, "James and the Giant Peach", is a great movie for the whole family to enjoy.
Still, this is only a so-so version of the book, one of my absolute favorites when I was a child. The animation is cool, but there was no way the filmmakers were going to be able to compete with my childhood memories of reading this book over and over again.
It's probably not even fair for me to review the movie for that very reason.
I do realize that some of the ambiguously disguised language is there, not to mention the alleged "frightening images," but this is a movie that can and should be seen by anybody... just watching this movie is sure to give anybody an unshakable boost of self-confidence!
This is not only very uplifting, but it's also very funny.
I normally wouldn't like a Disney film, but this is a rare find that should be in every collection.
"James and the Giant Peach" is one of my favorite movies. I remember seeing it at the movie theater when it first came out in 1996. I immediately fell in love with it. The animation was so cool and I love the talking bugs, especially the earthworm.(he's so cute) I also love the songs in this movie. My favorite is "We're Family".
My favorite part of the movie is when the Centipede jumps into the icy water to get a compass. That part of the movie was animated so well. I also liked the appearance by Jack the Skeleton from "The Nightmare Before Christmas". That was pretty funny. I also like the part of the movie when James has his aunts get taken away by the crane in New York. That part had me laughing hysterically.
Overall I really enjoyed this movie and suggest that everyone should see it. I give this movie 10/10 stars.
The very first problem begins in the very first few minutes of the movie: the death of James' parents. According to the narrator, James' parents were eaten alive by a rhinoceros. Uh.... WHAT?!!! How do rhinos eat people?! Rhinoceri are herbivores not carnivores! I'm not kidding you, I didn't make this up! This is exactly what the narrator said about the death of James' parents. And afterwords, James becomes a ward for his two evil aunts. Call me crazy, but here's what really happened to James' parents: My guess is that James' evil aunts sneaked into the bedroom of James' parents and stabbed them to death out of extreme rage that James' parents are better than them. This is more realistic than "a rhino eating James' parents". Then, there's the songs. Listen how horrible the lyrics are! Randy Newman, you ought to be ashamed of yourself! You were one of my favorite composers! You composed the songs for the Toy Story movies, for god's sake! What was the matter with you?! This movie is so bad, the Nostalgia Critic was forced against his will making a "positive" review for this piece of crap.
Pros: The artwork Cons: The songs, the CGI cloud effects, and the ridiculous explanation of how James' parents died.