Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Secret of Kells (The Secret Is That's It's Awesome)

Good things:

The weather is fucking fabulous. It's not humid, it's breezy and clear, it's not pouring buckets of rain. We're actually getting a real live FALL and I'm going to stop talking about it now because I don't want to jinx it.

I petted a wolf in the plaza today. These dudes had a legit friggin wolf on a leash in the plaza like it was the most normal thing in the world to be doing. They told me she was totally friendly and I got to pet her. Wolves are fluffy as HELL in case you were wondering. Also she was absolutely gorgeous and huge! Then the guys said that she was only a baby, seven months old, and that she was only going to get bigger. Awesome. Totally beats the time we saw a couple walking through the plaza with a piglet on the leash. Which was really cute, they even painted her nails. But not as cool as the wolf.

This literally exactly what she looked like. SO COOL.

I had my Immigration midterm today, which is good/bad because studying for it was sucky as hell but now it's over and done with so that's cool.

I wrote a short story today! It's for a contest and I think it's better than anything I've written in a really long time. I'm kind of absurdly proud of it.

And finally: BANNER QUOTES ARE BACK!! (*crickets*) oh fuck you. I have cleaned my act up and put a new quote, but the game has a twist now because it was getting too easy before. Now the quotes have been twisted to apply to Sugary Cynicism and you have to guess the original, correct quote and where it came from. I picked a pretty easy one for the first go-around to get you used to it. The prize remains the same, a cheesy and horrific Paint picture of whatever tickles your sick and twisted fancy.

Now, on to the review!

I will take on a trip down memory lane to a post you may (but hopefully don't) remember, back when I had JUST started and didn't have the faintest clue what I was doing (though I suppose you could make that claim now). I mentioned my desire to see the Oscar nominated film, The Secret of Kells, and that is was difficult to find because it didn't have distribution. And then whenever the hell it actually got distribution, it didn't play anywhere near me because Florida is stupid. I forgot about it until Netflix kindly informed me that it was now available for streaming.

I got just a bit excited.

So did The Secret of Kells manage to live up to my wildly unrealistic expectations?

Gee, lemmee think...YES.

This movie is beautiful, the art is unlike anything I've ever seen (keeping in mind that, comparatively, I haven't seen much). It's very geometric, heavily based around shapes and it plays with perspective a lot.

If I had to compare it to another animated style, I'd say The Thief and the Cobbler, another amazingly animated movie that unfortunately, exists in several different (often horribly bastardized) versions:

I highly recommend the "Re-cobbled" cut if you haven't seen it, that's how the director intended it and it's pretty damn awesome.

Anyway, The Secret of Kells tells the story of a tiny walled abbey/village known as Kells, one of few villages left unscathed by horrific Viking attacks. Our hero, Brendan, is the nephew of the Abbot of Kells and spends his days getting into trouble with a wacky group of ethnically diverse monks who would rather create illuminated scriptures then help build up Kells's defenses.

Seriously, they're like a cultural rainbow for Jesus

So Brendan lives under the strict rule of his uncle, never going outside the town walls until one day master illuminator Brother Aidan blows into town, on the run from Viking hordes with his fluffy kitty Panger Ban. He sees potential in little Brendan to help finish a great religious text, known as the Book of Iona. Aidan asks Brendan to sneak out through the wall and gather some berries from the forest to make ink. Brendan, entranced at the thought of helping to finish such a book, goes to the forest despite his uncle's warnings.

His uncle may have been on to something

But Brendan is rescued by a mysterious forest creature named Aisling, who helps him find the berries and befriends him. She is awesome. There are several beautifully done scenes, such as Brendan facing down an evil, snake-like monster called Crom Cruach:

But for all it's visual style and inventiveness, the movie is not perfect. After excellent pacing for the majority of the film, the ending feels incredibly rushed and unsatisfying, and the characters are often as flat as the artwork, but not nearly as interesting. Also, it's pretty easy to tell who's the experienced actor of the group (Brendan Gleeson as the disapproving Abbot). Up beat Kells at the Oscars because it was visually stunning, and had a compelling story and characters with heart. Kells gets almost all the way there, but stumbles at the finish line. But dammit, it's still a hell of a film no matter how you slice it, a visual feast for the eyes and has an incredibly score that I'm buying as soon as I get some money. It's quite a ride and has a lot of re-watch value, I think. Also every time I watch this scene, the hairs on the back of my neck stand up:

Four and half catapults out of five, because movies like this deserve it.

This is Sugary Cynic, wishing there was a fairy forest by my school instead of a sewage-treatment center. 'Night!

Brendan: "You can't find out everything from books, you know"

Brother Aidan: "I think I read that once"


  1. And I don't want to watch any of those videos, cos I want to see this film as cold as possible. Not temperature-wise, obviously.

  2. It's on streaming now? Eee! I'm going to rewatch it with my family. That movie "The Thief and the Cobbler" looks really interesting, I want to watch it. Great review close to being really great, it just barely misses out.

  3. Assassination of a High School President for the banner?

    Florida is gross, no offense, but my grandparents tell me every once in a while you guys get an awesome fall. And I love it, because my cousins get all pissy about how damned cold it is, and I'm all, "Come down here in November, you pussies." Oh, family time.

    I want to see this so damn bad.

  4. Unwashed: In the words of Hans Landau: That's a bingo! And I totally get not watching the videos, best to go in cold.

    Robert: That was pretty much my reaction lol. The Thief and The Cobbler is an amazing movie that has suffered numerous re-cuts and redubs turning it into a horrible, zombie mess. Find the re-cobbled cut!!!

    Simon: Nope, if they use it in the movie they got it from They Live. And let us Floridians have our pussy version of sweater weather, will ya? God knows we don't ask for much :p

  5. Looks good, Megan. I'll try to catch it, the actual Book of Kells being an amazing art resource.


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