Bridge to Terabithia
A good long review of the movie (saw it today) and all its aspects, its impact as well as the CG work. I havent read the book (in fact I hadn't even heard of it) but if the movie sticks closely to the book then it must be a beautiful piece of work. The book by Katherine Paterson , as I now know, is much loved and I will have to read it - the rest of this commentary though is of the movie (http://disney.go.com/disneyvideos/liveaction/bridgetoterabithia/ or http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0398808/ this site plays the music :-). Oh and I will try hard not to spoil anything important for those who still want to see/read it.
[the movie poster and book cover images - from Disney and booksellers]
Right from the begining the movie shows us a special quality where the imagery of characters, fantasy sketches and the emotional music by Aaron Zigman combine to set an emotional stage for what is to come.
The Story and its emotions
Withouth detailing the full plot (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0398808/plotsummary) we have Jess and the new girl in school who becomes his best friend, Leslie. Together they deal with life at home, school and also in a fantasy world they escape to which helps them in relation to their families, friends, school bullies and even their own personal development. There is a certain amount of steriotyping going on in all the characters - the mains, the kids and teachers at school and the parents. For me they are still indearing and approachable and perhaps, like the fantasy world, just add to the telling of a story which is quite special.
The story is full of layers and concepts each given space to breath as the ideas circling the main characters unfold. The mood and treatment of the ideas slowly build upon each other showing us snippets of emotions across a spectrum which has us happy, worried, inspired, confused, thrilled and more before the climax and conclusion which brings a profound emotional effect while managing to take the plotlines to different and surprising places.
The whole thing left me with a deep emotional sadness and at the same time somehow wise and joyfully uplifted. Lets just say I felt like an emotional wreck.
The Pieces of the Puzzle
I really liked the cast, the two main kids were lovely and worked together nicely - we care about them and their interactions with others. I was a little too engrossed to appreciate the camera work, lighting, sound and such - though they certainly matched the overall quality of the film. The direction and other elements obviously bring the whole thing together in bringing a story of such profound sadness coupled with a truly inspirational feel.
The fantasy creatures played an important part in the look of the film and were clever in their 'childish' whimsy while showing a resolved refinement.
[images of some of the cast from the AOL movie site]
Onto the Effects
The movie doesnt live and die by its effects work - but the mighty folk from Weta in NZ bring to life a range of fantastic creatures, landscapes and effects to enliven their fantasy world. The creatures that are brought to life range from quite normal animals with subtle variations - to completely fanciful creations like the bird-cage lady.
The trailer (here on youtube) actually shows off Weta's work pretty well - in fact the trailer is almost a showcase for their work rather than the movie itself.
There isnt nearly as much CG work in this movie as the trailer makes out - it is there to breath some impact into the imagined world of the children of course and when the creatures battle the children it works in well enough for the technology of today. It is by no means seamless - the interactions with the CG creatures work best when they are with other CG things (like when the soldiers and squogres fight). Perhaps the better bits of CG work were the more subtle pieces, such as the ghostly work on the black lord dude.
[some CGI images from the movie from the AOL movie site]
[and some creature design images from the IMDB site]
I like the way this movie/novel about friendship and emotions has the beautiful undercurrent of creative thinking and explorative imagination. Where people all too quickly seek to 'grow up' and do serious things, this should be a reminder of the joy in active imagining. Not just the passive consumer kind we get from media (and in fact books) but the freedom to invent, build, play and explore completely new ideas, worlds and more.
go forth and imagine, design, create, explore and live...
(perhaps a little too preachy there at the end :-)