REVIEW: James And The Giant Peach

Admittedly never really being a huge fan of James And The Giant Peach as a young child and only started watching it as a teenager and having liked it then, I think after a while I noticed the flaws within this film and how I think it could have been so much better. I mean, the weaknesses of this film in my opinion are that I didn’t find the young man who played James entirely convincing, it lacked emotion, heart and inspiration of James venturing to New York City and as much as I like musicals, I really didn’t like how they added songs into a story where there is nothing musical about it (especially when it’s a children’s novel by Roald Dahl).

However, despite these flaws there were some absolutely fantastic qualities in this film such as the beautiful making of the film. In comparison to the effects nowadays, some of the effects in James And The Giant Peach are incredibly cheesy but there is still no denying that it was brilliantly filmed. The stop-motion animation scenes on the journey to New York City were pretty impressive although I personally found some of those scenes quite boring despite its short duration. Although it is still, of course, is one film, it had a mixed combination between live-action and stop-motion but only involves them both at the same time, once or twice.

Paul Terry, the young boy who plays the hero of the story and main character James had the almost exact looks as the character is described in the novel but his performance wasn’t very good and I really do think that he lacked the courage within the character and also lacked making the audience feel sorry for him, not so much living with Sponge and Spiker (feel really sorry for him), but the fact that he lost his mother and father out of nowhere. Yes, there have been worse child stars (such as Jake Lloyd) but due to the fact that Paul Terry fitted well with the character regarding looks but not acting, it is neither one of the best nor one of the worst child performances. Joanna Lumley and Miriam Margolyes were both absolutely fantastic as Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker (especially Lumley)! They were perhaps the perfect actresses to play such hideously disgusting and extremely psychotic aunts who one would truly be terrified of the, let alone hate to live with them. Their acting together was brilliant and what made Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker such strong yet rather pathetic characters (how they are, not Dahl creating them) is that they think they are doing right, they think they are incredibly attractive by wearing fancy clothes and later revealing brown-haired wigs but because they are both so ugly, they played them both so well. I think Joanna Lumley would have been a good Cruella DeVil (perhaps not as good as Glenn Close was, though). The film also featured the likes of the late Pete Poslethwaite and the voices of Simon Callow, Richard Dreyfuss, Jane Leeves, Susan Sarandon, David Thewlis and Miriam Margolyes (she played two characters in this film).

Roald Dahl perhaps was and still is now the greatest novelist for children’s stories of all time. However, Tim Burton and Henry Selick who worked on The Nightmare Before Christmas together three years before perhaps were the best directors to have been involved in this film due to the uniqueness of the story and the fact that it includes characters that could be used for either CGI effects or stop-motion, they chose to make this film. Anyway, Roald Dahl’s original novel is a beautiful story with a lot of heart and courage but I think Tim Burton and Henry Selick perhaps tried to make their own version despite it having the same dialogue and characters within. I mean, yeah it is child-friendly enough to watch, of course, and I did like how they made the film a little darker such as the background settings especially Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker’s home and the neighbourhood. I would like to see them work on another film adaptation on one of Roald Dahl’s novels (such as a live-action/stop-motion version of The BFG) even though Tim himself already worked on another Roald Dahl book Charlie And The Chocolate Factory in 2005. The script was decent but I think on a lot of occasions such as James standing up against his cruel aunts, the writing of it was a bit flat and perhaps could have improvised a bit more on that. Yes, that is including the actions as well.

Overall, James And The Giant Peach is a decent enough film that is a recommendation for families to enjoy but lacks some things in the great novel. No, James And The Giant Peach isn’t my favourite Roald Dahl novel but there’s no denying that it is one of his best works and I myself prefer some other film adaptations of Dahl’s work. Tim, Henry, you both did well enough in this film and despite the flaws and weaknesses that the film had, I would still watch it again.

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~ by SJMJ91 on 18/05/2012.

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