Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr Fox
Last Sunday I finally watched Wes Anderson‘s Fantastic Mr Fox. Considering I think the book is one of the Roald Dahl‘s best, the film had a lot to live up to. Part way through watching I tweeted the below:
I wonder at what point Wes Anderson read Fantastic Mr Fox when he was making the film. I think it was when he finished! — Stephen Shirres (@The_Red_Fleece) November 2, 2014
It is safe to say I didn’t enjoy the film and ended up rating it three out of ten on imdb. While discussing it with my other half I started thinking about why I didn’t enjoy it. To discover my thoughts on the subject you’ll have to click below the break!
The Spirit of the Book
For me the biggest thing you have to capture when you are adapting a story, whether as a book, film or video game, is the spirit of the story. What makes this so difficult is that the spirit of the story is hard to define and changes from tale to tale. For example, if you are adopting Sherlock Holmes it is important to capture the excitement, pace and cleverness of the books which Sherlock, the recent BBC adaptation certainly has.
Sadly I think Wes Anderson failed to capture the spirit of Fantastic Mr Fox. Instead we have a standard Wes Anderson film in fox clothing. The characters don’t have the same sense of dare-doing and smarts that they do in Dahl‘s original book. Also the very simple story of a family of foxes verses three very mean farmers has been turned into an indie drama about dysfunctional families, lying to each other’s partners and general randomness which ruin, for me, the simplicity that made the book so good.
What They Did Right
What makes this lack of capturing the spirit of the book is that Anderson got so much right. The animation is perfect giving the film the look of a Quentin Blake illustrations come to life. The casting is as good with George Clooney an obvious choice for the main character, with Michael Gambon also great as the evil Bean while Bill Murray makes an excellent Badger. Maybe if these elements had been as bad as Anderson‘s attempt to capture the spirit of the book I wouldn’t have been so harsh on the film.
Overall it isn’t a bad movie, just a bad adaptation…which is possibly worse.