Monday, 17 December 2007

Enchanted

Surprisingly spellbinding...

'Another Disney movie?' Let's be honest, who hasn't yet made this phrase in complete awe as to why Disney still continue to slowly butcher the masterpieces of many years back, with features that are simply substandard in comparison? But on account of Disney's latest venture, it appears as if the animation-dominated company, is finally shifting its gears with the deliverance of the suitably titled: Enchanted.

Living in a fairytale world known as Andalasia. Princess Giselle (Amy Adams) is filled with thoughts of a dashing prince, later found to be Prince Edward (James Marsden) and the chance to share that one true kiss with him. When both unexpectedly meet, a marriage proposal is suggested and after merely a day of knowing one another, both Giselle and Edward are to be wed. However, Edward's step-mother, Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon), has no inclination to allow her throne to be given to another, so she decides to be rid of Giselle by sending her to another world which is devoid of the characteristic happy endings of fairy tales. Giselle ends up in the real world, more specifically, New York City. Here the harshness of social life begins to tug at her, but an unlikely friendship with divorce lawyer, Robert Philip (Patrick Dempsey), helps her to adjust.

Enchanted portrays a bizarre story with some of its main characters jumping from a realm of fantasy (animation) into reality (live-action). And it's this fantasy/ reality exposé which guides the film along. For Giselle, the real world lacks the sparkle, optimism and general goodness which dominated her beloved world. Instead she is presented with self-centeredness and social dismay for aspects of life such as love. This is what makes Enchanted so interesting to watch: the general contrasts of two opposing worlds, and how both can find similarities, even if the list is little. A noticeable scene involves Giselle attempting to clean an apartment with the aid of animals; however she is presented with rats, fleas and roaches: a complete change from the doves, deer and chipmunks she expected. The film never goes about dismissing that there are reasons for negativity in our world, but it does provide reasons as to why the world should be filled with more optimism and hope. Thankfully this is never to the point of being mushy, or numbing on happy pills. And this is the films greatest achievement: keeping everything seemingly realistic and thus tangible for the audience to believe in. I did however have an issue with Giselle being able to name one or two items that clearly could not have been from her world, and there is no evidence in the story to prove that she was told beforehand.

The film also has its fair share of humour. While it's not on the level of making you laugh yourself silly, the humour does a good job of making you chuckle and keeping a smile upon your face. The film even goes as far as parodying some elements of a Disney animation. If anything, the film becomes stated in its meaning, obviously to help the younger children, but luckily there are drops of symbolism and references to a few other Disney fairy tales, which help deepen the experience for the older generation. An aspect which must be highlighted is how Enchanted breaks the stereotype of the fairytale maidens. Usually the damsel is always a subversive character, always relying on the strength of Prince Charming. However in Enchanted, we are presented with fairytale females who have self-control as are willing to be assertive. Yet this happens only towards the end and completely comes out of nowhere. This brings about my main complaint with the film: it is a few minutes too short. Like my previous point, there is not enough time to sufficiently enhance the characters attitudes and emotions, and the opening animated sequence is far too quick in its aim. Yes, we know that in Disney films the pair of lovers will met and live happily ever after, but this is always done after we are able to understand the characters better. The everlasting love between Giselle and Edward in the beginning of the film serves as a little less emotive as it should have been because of the lack of a necessary buildup. Also, I felt the ending was far too predictable. There is a good chance that you will guess the specifics of the obvious fairytale ending, about three quarters through the film. As well, the ending is far too brief and basically kicks out the reality notion the film does well, up until the end, to convey.

If there is one element to consider of an animated feature which Disney usually gets right, it would be voice acting, and while Enchanted contains very little animated sequences, the voice acting is handled superbly. Best yet, the actors translate quite nicely into live-action where the acting ability is, while a little over-the-top at times, noticeably strong. Praise must be given especially to Adams who is utterly exquisite.

Whether it is the carefree innocence of Giselle, the simplemindedness of Robert the bedazzlement of Edward, or even the evilness of Narissa, every respective actor brings a realistic approach that works within the framework of not only their own and the other characters, but the situational context as well. The supporting characters of Pip (Jeff Bennet in animation; Kevin Lima in live-action) and Nathaniel (Timothy Spall) prove just as capable as their leads. The film also expectedly sports a musical aspect, with
both Giselle and Edward being the forerunners of this department, and they both deliver great performances, with a piece by Adams being a high point in the film.

It is, however, a pity that the love interests of Giselle and Robert, Edward and Nancy (Idina Menzel) respectively, get a bit too little screen time. While their participation within the story is not nearly as important as the characters of Giselle and Robert, they are, by the end of the film given a major story arc, but little characterization to support it. Also, while a minor issue, Giselle's character appears as being a hint too childish in her naivety in the live-action segments, while her animated self is aptly suited. It would have also been a nice addition to include a bit more musical pieces but what is provided is, at least, sufficient.

As a Disney film, one can expect content that is appropriate for the whole family. There's no sex, nudity albeit a scene with Adams in a towel after a shower and a nude statue. There is minute, non-hard language use, and violence only rears itself in a small quantity towards the end of the film.

Enchanted is easily one of the best family films to grace cinema in the last few years. Regardless of your demographic, there is bound to be very little any movie-goer can find wrong with this experience. Yes, it falls short of being ranked amongst the top-tier, but it just makes for such a compelling case study of our world, and is just so fill of love that it almost breaks my heart not to add another point to the overall score. Enchanted will make you feel exactly so, and thank goodness for that.

8/10

Screen Date: Sunday 16th December 2007
Release Date: Friday 21st December 2007

3 comments:

dontclickignore said...

I stopped reading about 3/4 of the way through. Don't take that as a negative, because I rarely ever get past 3/4 of any critics review. I liked what I saw, and it could pass for something in the paper. Keep it up.

CruizD said...

haha! You had me worried there for a second.
Well thanks a lot for comment. i'll be sure to keep up this quality if not try and improve!

ENchanted Movie said...

Enchanted is without a doubt one of Disney’s best so far. From the opening scenes done in 2D animation to the finale Enchanted will leave you feeling like a kid again. Highly recommend it to everyone well except boys cause they won’t enjoy this.