Based on Terry Pratchett's Novel. On Discworld (a world carried by four elephants standing on a huge turtle in space), a small girl, Susan Sto Helit, has got a major problem. Her grandfather is Death, who wants to forget that he has just "processed" his adopted daughter and her husband, who was Susan's mother and father, as this is causing him great grief, and Death is a person that can remember everything, much to his chagrin. Susan finds herself pressed into taking over Death's "duty", but finds that she is falling in love with an elf/human, Imp, who is slowly being taken over by a kind of "musical" force that is forcing Imp and his friends to play rock music to the Discworld. The rock music is proving to be a great success, but iit has plans for Imp and everybody wanting to play it, and it is up to Susan, the head of the wizards, the Archchancellor and Death (that is, if he can be found and made to remember who and what he is.) to stop it before it conquers the entire Discworld.Written by
Lee Horton <Leeh@tcp.co.uk>
Let's face it; the Discworld novels are rather uneven. The first three are barely worth bothering with. But then, Pratchett produced a novel, Mort, that was dangerously close to literature. Mort went on to be a stage play, and Pratchett went on to write other things. It took four years to get back to the Mort storyline with Reaper Man in 1991, and another three years to continue the story in Soul Music in 1994.
Having read all the Discworld books so far, I still think Soul Music is my favorite. Having played in a band myself, I could appreciate the musical in-jokes better than most. Imagine my surprise when a friend mentions casually that Soul Music was an animated feature and he had the DVD. A trade was arranged (one of my Bubblegum Crisis volumes) and I settled down to watch my favorite Discworld novel transformed into a movie.
So how was it? Oh, pretty good as a whole. After a stunning CGI opening which takes us on a quick tour of the Discworld, the film settles down to conventional animation with an occasional computer assist. My friend describes the animation as "kinda like squigglevision" (as in Doctor Katz and a couple others) but I have to disagree -- it's much better than that. There are a few places where it was painfully obvious that the animation team was trying to save a few drawings by playing the same clip over and over, but in general, the animation was adequate.
The voice talents ranged from excellent to really really bad. Christopher Lee was excellent as Death, as was Debra Gillett as Susan, Death's Granddaughter. The voices of the band (Lias, Glod, and Buddy) were very good. Other voices were adequate, with the exception of the wizards at Unseen University. Yes, I know they were supposed to be petty old men, but why did they have to have the pitch, tonality and speech patterns of Smurfs? It became irritating after awhile. I found myself getting restless whenever the wizards were on the screen, wishing the scene would be over. It's a mystery how such bad choices could co-exist with such good choices.
Plotwise, most everything is there. The story was shortened in a few spots, which is reasonable when filming a novel. Sometimes the editing destroyed a joke; for instance, when Nobby and Sgt Colon comment "there she goes -- Susan Death" the joke falls flat for lack of the earlier setup. "Wasn't that death?" "I dunno, it looked more like a Susan." I believe from the description in the book that Pratchett intended the sound of the shop fading and reappearing to be the Dr. Who Tardis sound, but maybe they couldn't get permission to use that.
Much of the humor of the novel manages to make it into the film, and it's still funny. I laughed out loud a few times, more out of surprise that a favorite joke was delivered well.
All in all, the film has a few flaws but is definitely worth watching. I've just learned that Wyrd Sisters has also been filmed. I can't wait.
Now if only they would film Hogfather...
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