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Almost A Half Dozen Incredibly Premature looks at WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE - which was directed by Spike Jonze!

Hey folks, Harry here... Today - Moriarty attempted to get into this screening... we'll see if he was able to pull it off - however, whether he did or not - these two spies did. We've known about this screening for a while now - and this isn't a case of a nearly finished film that's sitting in a can awaiting release next Holiday season because of this season being overcrowded. No, this is a film at its most exposed, raw and vulnerable state. The way Spike shot this film was with puppeted suits with... TO BE CG'd heads. So imagine watching the story of WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE without any face movement or emotions. No connection, other than in voice, between Max and the creatures - which is what the entire film will hinge on. Why did the studio force Spike to screen this? They didn't. Spike - as an artist - needed to have an audience to watch the film to help him with difficult editing decisions. To find what is working at this early stage and what he needs to work on. And the studio is going to allow him the time to find and craft this film. SO - here is an incredibly early look... where the film was before the big budget slickery of the effects company has come in. There are things that, even now seem to be working really well... and ultimately - as you'd expect by a film of this type... they have a long and hard road to go, but they have Spike Jonze leading the way. Let's hope for the best!

So I saw a screening of Where the Wild Things Are the other night. I was sworn to secrecy with a specific statement saying NOT to write into aintitcool. But what follows is what happens when you make your audience wait outside in the cold for far too long. Let me say that the movie I saw is in a very unfinished stage. Wires can be seen, animations are absent, etc. I'll keep this review short because of this. WTWTA is a child's tale involving a rambunctious boy named Max who goes on a magical journey to a far off land. I never have read the book but I was always enthralled with the illustrations and was very interested in seeing them brought to the big screen. What Spike Jonze has done/will do will look incredible. He's combined puppets/costumes and animation and while I got to see a few snippets (most likely in infant stages) what will be the final product will definitely be cause enough to see this in a big theater. That being said, the film does have some slow parts. Max's relationships to the Wild Things have some cute moments and some thoughtful ones as well. But sometimes things drag and some repetition occurs. After the initial meeting between Max and the Wild Things, the "magic" tends to stagnate. Whether this is a length (running time) issue or material issue I cannot decide. I would like to say that the blend of effects will make this movie worth a look. I implore Mr. Jonze to spend extra time and care with the animation of the facial expressions and emotions of the Wild Things. The relationship of Max to the Wild Things, and ultimately the movie, will hinge on it. The snippets of facial animation that I saw tonight (and I understand that they were in an unfinished stage) were not good enough. Not for what Jonze is close to pulling off. I don't want to mention the voice work done. Familiar names are used but, due to ongoing changes (some of the character's voices changed midway through the film), what I heard might not make it to the final product. This movie might not be the homerun that us older listen-to-me-bitch-and-moan-about-another-part-of-my-childhood-"ruined" -wah-cry-me-a-river geeks are hoping for, but it will be fun, mostly for kids, real ones. And that's who it's for, isn't it? Criticize at will, fellow talkbackers. Yours, Culan Dephi

Ok - and then we have the following review from a reviewer who just seemed to be unable to see past a film in this incredibly rough state. You have to understand that this is a film... that has basically finished shooting - is in a rough edit mode, doesn't have the score - or any truly finished CG... and at this point Spike was just testing to see how it is paced, where he needs to cut - before going into the costly CG stage. It's rare on a film that will end up this effects heavy to screen at this early of a stage - mainly because random audiences have just never seen a film this barebones. SO - if you choose to read the following review - remember - he saw a film where all the magic is yet to be implemented. And for WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE - magic is what its all about...

Hey Harry and crew, I just got back from one of the inital test screenings for "Where the Wild Things Are" directed by Spike Jonze out in Pasadena. I am sure you will be getting quite a few of these reviews since there must have been over 400 in attendance with at least 50 fans of your website, most of them better writers than what I can give but what the hell, here goes. I have to say that I, being in my early thirties, remember my parents reading the book "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak too many times to remember. The book itself is only 48 pages long and like most children books the total text written could fit on 5-6 pages of a Hollywood script. With such a small amount of written material to draw on Dave Eggers and Jonze had to write a little out of the box to fill a 2 hour movie (may have been an hour and thirty, I forget). Before the movie started I was wondering if it was the norm to screen movies that rely so heavy on CGI this early in the game considering Warner Brothers are about 11 or so months away from releasing the thing. We were told the usual about it being a rough cut with temporary music and most of the effects not finished. This turned out to be an understatement since they haven't even started removing the stunt wires from any of the actors for the entire movie. The movie starts with relative newcomer Max Records who plays the future king of the Wild Things, Max. Without going into specifics Max and his sister don't get along anymore, they come from a single parent home (Dad is either dead or dead-beat), and Mom (Catherine Keener) is having a hell of a time trying to raise the Max, who without friends, is your basic over-imaginative hellraiser. The reason I treat you to the cliff note version of the beginning is because just like other movies that mine our adolescence, Max is not the star of the show here. Where are the effing Wild Things? After a blowout with Mom and new boyfriend (Mark Ruffalo) Max has enough and runs out of the house in his distinctive wolf suit that we have come to recognize him. After a "Lord of the Flies" temper tantrum in the woods Max finds a little sail boat near the bay and decideds to head off. After awhile he finally reaches the island of the Wild Things and we finally get the payoff.............sort of. Spike Jonze decided against using complete CGI to make the Wild Things and instead went for the people in a goofy suite angle. The Wild Things look damn near just like they did in Sendak's book. There were no animatronic deals in the face to show emotion of movement of the mouth in the creatures. They just had little triangle points of reference all over there face to be CGI'd later on down the line. This meant that instead of a slick CGI head character I spent the last 2 hours watching a kid talk to a bunch of "Costumed Man Puppets." I'm not going to spoil anything else for the readers since there really isn't much to spoil. This is a visually based movie that is operating on an EXTREME thread bare story and without the slick CGI to back it up, it really was half a movie. Here are some interesting points though. James Gandolfini plays the creature Carol which last time I check was Moishe in the book. He does a decent job of acting like an overgrown man-child considering the narrative he was given. Billy Bob Thorton voiced the character of Emil (God knows what they changed it to in the movie, I didn't pay attention) for 2/3 of the movie in his usual Southern drawl. Who they replaced him with I have no idea. The rest of the cast did a decent job I guess but the whole thing was odd since I was listening to great actors voices coming out of emotionless big puppet heads. The whole experience reminded me of watching "Meet the Feebles" without any of the cool sex, drugs, S&M, or violence. About once every 30 minutes you saw a couple of beats of some completed CGI and it looked damn good. The atmosphere really didn't feel right but with those same little CGI points of reference on every God damn tree and rock in every scene I am guessing this is going to look completely different. I used my imagination to think how I would feel about this movie in all of its slick finished glory...............I still didn't like it. When this thing is cleaned and polished it might be a really decent kids flick. I enjoy alot of smart kids movies that entertain the adults while keeping the kids into the story, I just didn't enjoy this one. Is my decision pre-mature? I don't know. Had I had the chance to do it over again I would have rather watched a semi-finished movie and made an opinion. There was just too much to finish for me to call this one. Call me ScrewNonDisclosureAgreements

Then we got this review which really and truly feels the film is going to be incredibly special... THANK GOD!

Hi Harry, I read the two reviews you posted previous and, although I wasn't planning to, I feel obligated to throw my two cents in. I had originally planned to write you about this one, but once I saw it I decided that it just wouldn't be right (or fair to Spike) to do so. I think spoilers might ruin the magic. However, I just wanted to heartily disagree with the "meh" reports you've recieved thus far. This movie is going to be something special. Sans effects and score I was still captivated. The temp score (mostly music from The Arcade Fire) fit amazingly well and I even got used to the static monster faces (probably because I can use my imagination and don't need everything generated by a computer and spoon fed to me). I'd love for them to license the same music from the final score, but I seriously doubt that'll happen. But please Spike, if you're reading this, use similar music-- don't go for the big blown out symphony or anything. It went a long way toward making the movie for me, especially that scene that used Rebellion. I don't want to ruin the story, so I won't. However, I would like to applaud Jonez and Eggars for making a children's movie that has actual characters and character development. But the most refreshing aspect of this one is the fact that it is totally devoid of all of the pop culture references, hip slang and all the other elements that will make this generation of children's movies dated and lame in the very near future. Bravo to all those involved. Bravo. Call me cinemaniac1979.

Then we got this one! Thanks to the Testing Company for giving people my site address - I love free advertising!

Hello this is my 1st time on this site and I must say where I have you been all my life lol. I only heard of this site because I signed a waiver telling me not to post anything on this site telling you of the movie I was about to watch "Where the wild things are" so of course I had to visit the site. Well the movie looks amazing great music and It just looks like whoever has read this book imagined the characters would look like in real life, I can't wait for the cg. The movie kind of leaves you with a confused almost left hanging at the end, but then I was thinking and it makes sense, There was a scene *spoiler* where a monster tells Max to hide in its stomach so the monster pretty much eats him and then the monster kind of hesitates to release him from its stomach and made it seem like if the monster tricked him into eating him and then lets him go looking all slimy and gooey people around me (kids and adults) where a bit disturbed by it since the monster and max talk while he is in the belly. On closing the movie looks like it will rock after they spice it up, it could use some more comedy since its kind of dark. thenewguy

Here's another rave:

Hi Harry, I also saw Where The Wild Things Are in Pasadena earlier this afternoon. I'm appalled by the negative reviews being sent to you about the film. The filmmakers have crafted an intense, merciless drama that deals with hard hitting, sometimes cold, issues that are meant to evoke some real emotion from the audience. The film is shot as a raw, hand-held-cam, indie film. The human cast and human world are portrayed in a very realistic way, letting you know immediately that this is not a kids movie (at least, its not going to flow like Enchanted or be as polished as Bridge to Terebithia). It reminded me of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1. It's one of those kids movies that slips through the studio cracks and is made as a dark, mature film. The movie is very dialogue heavy, yet has its adventurous, special effects filled moments. As the story becomes more involved and the characters show their many layers, it becomes a very scary film. The complexity of living on the island with the monsters becomes intimidating and dangerous for Max. I can't believe one of the reviewers said this movie will ride on its special effects. That is such a fucking bullshit statement. The actor playing Max, and the voice-actors did such an amazing job of making you forget about the static monster faces and only focus on the character arcs and storyline. The story being told does not need monster facial expressions for an audience to understand every aspect of the film. Though, I can't wait to see this film again when it is complete. The few moments of the finished monsters sent chills down my spine. As for the pacing of the film, I feel I'd need to see it again to really judge it. It's a very mature film with many moments of up and down anger, sadness, happiness, etc. I really couldn't tell you what scenes could be shortened or cut without fucking up the overall vision and message. I'd say everyone involved in the film making are really trying to make this something special and audiences are going to be happily surprised by the finished product. I thought it was funny that there were contracts being signed mentioning to not write specifically to AintItCoolNews.Com about the movie, but damn, those other reviews sucked.
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