Saturday, June 07, 2008

REVIEW: Tideland


Year: 2005
Director: Terry Gilliam
Starring: Jodelle Ferland, Jeff Bridges, Jennifer Tilly, Janet McTeer, Brendan Fletcher
Distributor: THINKFilm
MPAA: Rated R

Disturbing, bleak, unsettling and dark are just a few words people would use to describe Tideland. The 2005 Terry Gilliam directed fantasy film not only didn't get the critical reception it wanted, but also bombed at the box office. Critics thought it was a horrible film coming from the same director that directed such hits as the 1985 film "Brazil" and the ever so popular Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Now I haven't seen any Terry Gilliam film even though there are so many great ones, but something about Tideland had me interested. Alot of people on the forums have been discussing this movie and its kind of gotten me alittle curious. Not only that, but the poster for the film also looks very creative and mesmerizing. With these intentions, I had to take a look myself.

Plot Outline:
A young girl by the name of Jeliza-Rose (Jodelle Ferland) is relocated to an old abandoned farmhouse with her drug addicted father after the girls mother, Queen Gunhilda (Jennifer Tilly) dies. The girls father Noah (Jeff Bridges), is an ex-rocker, still drugging it up with the love and support of his innocent young daughter Jeliza-Rose. What follows is a child like perspective of what the incredibly imaginative Jeliza is experiencing and how she interacts with other bizarre characters. The young girl's world is changing upside down. Where the line between her imagination and reality disappears.

The story is somewhat of a mess. Tideland is based on a novel with the same name written by Mitch Cullin. While the movie looks to be the same story as the novel, the story never stays on one topic and keeps moving forward. The film's plot is almost none existence with the whole movie being a strange dark fantasy. The story becomes hard at times that you simply don't know whats going on. Even though the film starts off really slow and continues on that path, you never get answers to whats going on in the movie. The whole movie feels like a bad dream or better yet a nightmare. We hardly get any character development between the characters and the things they interact with. I did however, think the main character Jeliza-Rose was somewhat interesting to listen upon. The things she does and say are pretty crucial to the story since it mostly resolves around her. I wasn't fascinated by the things Jeliza experiences or goes through, but I did find them to be somewhat disturbing. While the movie might have its share of uglyness, I did find the first half to be decent. The second half is where the problems heavily occur. The story turns from decent to just plain creepy. It gets really ugly and distracting that I couldn't really get into it. Not to mention the train wreck conclusion that is the ending. Whats weird is while the story might not interest many viewers, the films got alot of messages that kind of get out to you. Whether its something related to drugs or loneliness, the message is quit clear.

The cast is pretty good, but none of them really have their moments in the film. Jodelle Ferland plays as Jeliza-Rose and shes pretty good in her role. Being the main character of the film, its no surprise that she has alot of dialogue. I don't think shes the perfect choice to be playing someone as dark and creative as Jeliza-Rose, but I think Ferland does a good job in a tough role like this. Jeff Bridges plays as Noah and hes good as always. I really enjoyed his performance, but its hardly a breakthrough role for him. I just really wish he had some more screen time because I enjoyed his role in this film. Jennifer Tilly plays as Queen Gunhilda, but shes hardly on screen much that its hard to tell of her performance. Shes dies far too quickly in the beginning of the movie, but the small parts shes in are pretty good, but not great. We also have Brendan Fletcher playing as Dickens and this is a part that is alittle hard to judge. While this is probably hes best role in a movie, but at the same time, he looks likes hes faking it. I just wasn't convinced he was this mentally challenged boy that he was in the movie. That's just my opinion, but a decent cast all round.

The visual look of the film is dark and grim. The movie was released in 2005 so its source is pretty clean. I wasn't able to detect much grain in the movie, but the black levels were alittle saturated in some scenes. This is only in a few scenes, but mostly the black levels are stable. The movie has a wonderful imagery that really shows the isolated feeling in the story. This makes for a striking color palette. Some of the outdoor shots looks nicely colored with bold colors. Detail is also pretty high with some great looking objects. Tideland has many scenes that would look great in high def. The movie isn't something Id use to demo off my system, but this DVD has some nice looking visual effects. Overall, this is a solid visual quality because everything is sharp and clean.

The soundtrack in the movie is on the weak side. The film doesn't look like it has a score of it own. Their isn't a whole lot of music in the movie, but their are some sound effects that make use of the story. The music is a mix between orchestral or drums and they slowly tune off. The music comes and goes, but its in tact with the movement of the story. Bass work on this film is decent at best. There isn't a whole lot going on so bass isn't necessary. However, the movie still has some bass that usually is good at times. Dialogue is also on the heavy side with alot of the characters talking especially Jeliza-Rose. What good is that the dialogue is clean and clear. You can hear everything everyone is saying. This makes hearing conversation easy and understandable.

Tideland is a dark fantasy tale that happens with Jeliza-Rose being the center of attention. The story is part disturbing and part confusing. I just wasn't thrilled by it like some other novel to film movies. The cast is somewhat good, but I just wasn't blown by their performances. Some of them could have been replaced by other celebrities. The visual look is nice and sharp. Its not going to blow your socks off, but its nicely transferred here in its full glory on DVD. The soundtrack is mostly missing in action since the movie doesn't have much music in it, but the sound effects sounds good. This isn't a movie Id recommend to kids under 16 since its got alot of strange images. While I was mostly let down by this movie, I did however enjoy some small parts. I really liked its view of objects. Id only recommend this film to those seeking a dark fantasy film, but even than Id strongly think you should go watch Pan's Labyrinth instead.

Grade: C-

1 comment:

Chalupa said...

I didn't know exactly what I was expecting out of this movie, but it's fair to say I was a little disappointed. I agree with pretty much everything you pointed out. This was one of very few movies I found myself having to focus and not turn off.