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Saturday, January 1, 2011



You can watch the trailer here

Animal Kingdom is an Australian film directed by David Michôd that tells the story of Joshua (James Frecheville) who, after his mother OD's, goes to live with his grandmother (Jacki Weaver) and his uncles who are all involved in organized crime. One of his uncles, whom everyone refers to as Pope (Ben Mendelsohn), is in hiding after committing armed robbery, and Joshua learns that the police have been staking out his family's homes for nearly a week. When family friend and crime accomplice Barry (Joel Edgerton) is killed by police after meeting with Pope, he and his brothers Darren (Luke Ford) and Craig (Sullivan Stapleton) retaliate by killing two officers on their own. The police quickly move in on the family, bringing all of them men into custody. A detective named Leckie (Guy Pearce) questions Josh and tries to get him to sell out his family, and Josh struggles with the decision for the remainder of the film.

To be honest, I was very excited about watching this film, but for the majority of it, I was pretty disappointed. The screenplay didn't seem all that tight, and I wasn't really hooked into the story as much as I would have liked. All of the situations just kept moving forward, but I couldn't really find a reason to care about the characters. I mean, it's not that the screenplay is bad, but it wasn't as spectacular as I had heard. However, it did offer a little bit of redemption towards the end of the film, saving Animal Kingdom from a C-range grade.

In addition, I wasn't terribly impressed with the acting ensemble. Sure, there are some good pieces here and there - Edgerton and Stapleton are both very good and utterly captivating when they're on-screen - but I'd heard so many accolades about the cast, and they didn't necessarily deliver for me. In fact, Weaver has garnered a supporting actress nomination at the upcoming Golden Globes, but I couldn't really see why. She's good, but she's nothing spectacular. I guess I could say that about most of the rest of the cast. They're just about par for the course, but there's no one really pushing themselves forward to stand out.

Just a quick side note: I had some issues with the music and the score in the film. Now, when I'm calculating my scores and grades, music does play a part. For me, a good score or good use or music will either complement a film well or fit so seamlessly that you know it's there but it's not pushing itself to the forefront. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a bad score will stand out and take you away from the story because that's all you'll continue to hear, and that was the problem I had with the score in Animal Kingdom. It stuck out so much and so often that there were moments where I missed dialogue because the music just screamed to be heard. And that's not good.

Overall, Animal Kingdom is worth watching, although it's not quite what I had expected it to be. I feel as though there was the potential for greatness here, but it just lets up in every facet a little too early. Maybe on another viewing, I'd like it more, but for now, it just leaves a little bit to be desired.

Movie Review Summary:
Grade: B
Thumb... Mostly Up

Addition to Awards
2010: 1 nomination

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