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(Review originally written at 6 April 2008)

To be honest, I didn't expect this movie to be as good as it turned out to be. No way this movie seemed like one deserving its current 8 out of 10 rating on here. This seemed to me like just another fluffy 'light'-Lord of the Rings children movie. But even though this movie borrows heavily from other movies, it remains a good and certainly fun quality production.

Best choice the movie made, was that it was one that didn't took itself as seriously. You obviously have to take this movie with a grain of salt. It knows it is ridicules in parts and it doesn't try to hide this but rather even exploit it further. This is mostly what makes the movie so fun to watch. Because of this you also tend to forgive this movie from 'borrowing' elements or entire sequences from other movies. Fact that his movie doesn't take itself as serious can also be seen in the delicious over-the-top roles from Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer roles.

Because the movie needs to be taken with a grain of salt, also the humor works out the best. The humor within this movie feels non-forced, even though it got put in- and planned out all deliberately into the movie. It knows to remain fresh and it doesn't overly try to make you laugh. It's often more subtle and not something you would expect from a genre movie such as this.

It's mostly the fun level and atmosphere of this movie that makes it such a good one to watch. Because lets be fair, if this movie purely had to rely on its story, this would had been a rather weak and simple movie to watch. It's quite formulaic stuff all and of course the way the story progresses is rather predictable. I also don't know if this is really a kids movie. Even though the movie got obviously targeted towards this audience, I strongly feel that it are the adults who will mostly enjoy watching this. The humor and overall story is too mature for that.

Also the diverse wide range of characters makes this movie a real fun one to watch. Most characters are really over-the-top and are often being played by some fine big name actors. Besides the earlier mentioned Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro, the movie also features Sienna Miller, Ian McKellen, Peter O'Toole, Mark Strong, Rupert Everett, Claire Danes, Nathaniel Parker, Dexter Fletcher and Ricky Gervais among others. Most of them are well known respected British actors, which also already gives the movie a certain atmosphere. But it needs to be said, with all the many different characters in the movie it at times feels that most actors looked as if they were making a movie on their own. The movie doesn't always feel like a coherent one.

Also the pacing isn't always right and the movie gave the feeling that it also could had been easily 15 minutes shorter. It on the other hand is a fine looking and constructed movie, even though it doesn't feature the best special effects around but this sort of feels suiting for the movie and its entire atmosphere.

Highly recommendable and in this case believe the hype!

8/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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