The Secret World of Arrietty (2010) – 4/5

Beautiful, imaginative, funny film with a creative, unpredictable story and a charming main character that actually makes you care for her despite not actually existing in any tangible way. Great job, girl voice actor! I’m talking about the US dubbed version since this movie has been redone with different voice actors a bunch of different times through the years. I would have preferred the original with subtitles cause I’m an elitist snob like that, but this was a pretty damn good dub all things considered.

The movie is very beautiful, and features classic animation I think, the paper and pencil kind that’s since mostly, and sadly, gone out of style. You can kind of tell by the jittery movement of some of the frames, but it doesn’t matter, it’s still great looking, and the story is deep and rich, with nice little touches here and there that really add to the film’s overall sense of wonder and magic. I loved the little world they created here, and wish they had gone into it more as a lot of the deeper stuff is only merely hinted at most of the time, or mentioned in passing, like the thing with the  rats.

I guess such things are part of the story’s unpredictability, but I was really expecting the rat element to come back somehow in the end, especially with the whole “sword” thing being introduced early on. But nope. Oh well. It still works.

I also liked how none of the characters are quite what they seem: you think the main girl is going to be this **SPOILERS** big predictable spunky Disney female type character who loves getting into adventures and doing “boy stuff,” and she is at first, but after she’s discovered by the big guy she actually learns from her mistake and becomes extremely cautious and reserved. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such character growth in a kids’ film before.

Same with the “friendship” she has with said big guy throughout the film. From the trailers you think it’s going to be this close, sappy, borderline romantic relationship, but no, it’s not like that at all. In the end they make it seem like it was, and maybe to them it seemed that way since they were both essentially just children, but to me, it didn’t feel like that at all. Their relationship is quick, distant, and cold, almost to the point where I had a hard time buying it at all. Their initial meeting is awkward and forced, like the filmmakers were rushing to bring these two together and establish them as friends as quickly as possible for the sake of the plot, except they forgot to include the part where they actually become friends in any kind of believable manner.

And they’re not even friends really; he’s dying and wants someone to talk to, and she needs his help at the end finding her mother. Aside from that, though, their relationship mostly consists of him trying to get her to talk to him and her telling him to leave her alone. Just like one of my typical relationships, in other words. Hey-O!**END SPOILERS**

Overall, I enjoyed the heck out of this movie, flaws and all. Sure, the world could have been explored more, and sure, aspects of the relationship between our two main characters weren’t quite as defined as what we’re used to from a film of this kind, i.e. a cartoon, but it’s still extremely engaging and imaginative and suspenseful and downright hilarious at times. And what excellent voice acting all around. A very, very enjoyable movie. And the ending was even a little sad. Totally wasn’t expecting that.

The best of 2012 so far, even though it came out in 2010. Worth watching!





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