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Stewart Smith

Gulliver’s Travels

The story Gulliver’s Travels has been around for quite a while. It was originally written by Jonathan Swift in 1726. Since then, it has become a minor classic. Recently, a new film adaptation has been released starring Jack Black, who previously starred in The School of Rock, Tropic Thunder and King Kong, and was the voice lead in Kung Fu Panda and Shark Tale.

The book Gulliver’s Travels follows the adventures of Gulliver as he travels to very interesting places around the world. The most critically acclaimed of these was Liliput, a strange land where the people are one twelfth the size of normal humans. Another interesting place was the isle of Brobingnag, where the land is populated by giants twelve times the size of a normal human. So basically, in Liliput the scale is 1:12, and in Brobdingnag 12:1.

The new movie Gulliver’s Travels is very different from the book. Gulliver works in the mailroom of a big newspaper delivering mail to the editors in the newsroom. He tries to impress a girl, Darcy Silverman (Amanda Peet), who is the travel editor at the paper. He convinces her that he can write by cutting and pasting some other travel articles. Darcy assigns him to write a story about a trip into the Bermuda Triangle. Of course, his boat is caught in a storm. He washes up in Liliput, surrounded by the little people, and meets Horatio (Jason Segel), a humble man with a crush on the princess (Emily Blunt), who is set to be married to General Edward (Chris O’Dowd). We all can guess how that’ll turn out.

One of the things that disturbed me most about the movie was that it showed the large Brobingnags as cruel, evil creatures rather than the nice people from the book. Speaking of the Brobingnags, they only appeared for a really short period, just used as a poor plot device.

There were some good special effects, particularly with the little people, and the 3D was good. I really liked some of the modern touches – the iPhone and the mock movie theatre Gulliver had constructed where the little people played out scenes from Titanic and Star Wars.

But, overall, the movie showed very little excitement in places where it was most called for. There was a sequence where Gulliver needed to escape from a giant house! Sounds exciting, right? It lasted 5 seconds, and that’s NOT an exaggeration.

Where they did try to add excitement it was extremely corny. Now, the thing about corniness in kids movies is that the filmmakers think they can get away with it. Kids like to see people dance to the tune of “War” by Edwin Starr with tiny figures! Kids like to see giants urinate on burning buildings to put them out. Most kids, that is.

So, a lot of companies decide to make a kids’ move that is corny. “Kids will love it, so we’ll get a lot of money,” they’ll say. Well, I have something to say to YOU. It’s corny filmmakers like them that make many kids’ movies look bad.

Unfortunately, although Gulliver’s Travels has some good moments, overall it just doesn’t live up to expectations.

Age Recommendation: All ages CAN watch this film, though I think that it would be preferred by those under 12.

Final Verdict: 6/10. It’s one of those lesser kids films.


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{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Anthony D. Grana December 21, 2010, 12:22 pm

    Dec. 21,2010,UK/Winter Solstice.
    Stewart, Well Written review, and concise explanation of book. Liked your evaluations, especially at the end: “So, a lot of companies decide to make a kids’ move that is corny. “Kids will love it, so we’ll get a lot of money,” they’ll say. Well, I have something to say to YOU. It’s corny filmmakers like them that make many kids’ movies look bad.”
    Comparing the Book and the Movie will make a Good University Thesis. Keep ‘em Coming

  • TimWarp January 4, 2011, 5:17 pm

    Had to laugh at this: “Kids like to see giants urinate on burning buildings to put them out. ” When I was a kid (45 years ago, give or take) the animated “Gulliver’s Travels” showed Gulliver putting out a fire in Liliput by spitting water on it. “Eww, Gross!” was the Liliputians’ reaction, and they threw him out of their land. I always thought that was an over-reaction, until I was older and read the book and found out the scene had been “sanitized” for us!

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