Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Secret of Kells

The Secret of Kells was perhaps the single movie I was most looking forward to this year. And it did not disappoint. In a world dominated by painfully similar animated features, this movie out of Ireland brought a truly unique aesthetic, that excited me more than a half dozen Pixar films.

The Secret of Kells tells the mythical creation story of the Book of Kells. It follows Brendan (Evan McGuire), the young and mischievous nephew of Abbot Cellach (Brendan Gleeson) from the city of Kells. With an invasion of murderous vikings on the horizon, the town is visited by Brother Aiden (Mick Lally), an artist working on what would become the Book of Kells. Conflict ensues between Aiden and Cellach, with the Abbot wanting to focus on the wall he's building around the city, and the Brother wanting to work towards conserving knowledge in his books. Brendan is caught in the middle.

The story is rather thin. It's entertaining, but it's a little sporatic. Certain characters like Aisling (Christen Mooney), the faerie who lives in the forest outside of Kells, are not effectively used. The movie set her up very well, but she essentially disappeared about 3 quarters of the way through the movie. A few places where the pacing seemed to hit a standstill, like when Aisling is endowed with certain musical powers strictly to write them out of a corner, were the only minor issues I had with the movie.

Aesthetically, Secret of Kells is brilliant. The style reflects the illuminated manuscripts that are the focus of the films. The characters are designed beautifully, and the animation complements the style. Each frame of this film qualifies as a piece of art. The animation breathes a certain brilliance into the characters. Brother Aiden's cat for example, and the denizens of the abbey were wonderfully aniamted. And scenes with Aisling darting through the forest were inspired.

Movies like The Secret of Kells seem so new and refreshing in a world filled a barrage of formulaic animated movies. I hope this movie finds a wide audience, because it's easily one of the best animated movies in years.

4.5/5

1 comment:

Ann said...

When will it be in theaters and when will the DVD be released? I want to see this so bad!!