I already read the book by Roald Dahl many years ago and I’ve seen some of Mr Anderson’s other films recently. I still enjoy memories of the book as a slightly weird tale of the trickery of woodland animals pitted against some unpleasant farmer characters, which unsurprisingly for genius Dahl had a dark, violent edge. I also enjoyed what I’ve seen of Anderson, especially the Darjeeling Limited. This film, however, just made me enjoy the book more.
The film did look and sound brilliant, with flawless stop motion animation, country soundtrack and gorgeous textures and colours. However, the book’s dark edge that I spoke of before had been replaced by American cutesiness. The previously nasty villains were presented as laughable idiots and the supposedly ‘wild’ animals were far too humanised. I just got the impression that this film was trying to do too much with a simple story that previously worked fine. I wasn’t sure what age it was attempting to direct at. It seemed too complicated at times for children, and the over the top action scenes didn’t help. The traditionalist side of me was also annoyed at the Americanisation of a previously British story, even if the efforts of actors like George Clooney were pleasant to listen to. I did enjoy the film but I just feel it could have been improved if it retained the traditional, dark feel of the book and cut down on the action scenes, the humanisation of the characters and the cutesy humour.