Ioan Gruffudd, Dakota Blue Richards, Tim Curry, Natascha McElhone, Juliet
Stevenson, Augustus Prew, Andy Linden and Michael Webber
Out to buy on DVD 20/07/09
After the death of her father,
thirteen year-old Maria Merryweather has to leave her home in the city and
live with her reclusive uncle, Sir Benjamin (Gruffudd). He lives in the middle
of Moonacre Valley in a stately manor that is slowly falling apart with his
faithful butler Digweed (Webber), cook and hound Wrolf and is surrounded by
a forest which is the home of his archenemy Coeur De Noir (Curry). The pair
has been looking for a set of magical pearls hidden by the last Moon Princess
but it is Maria who holds the key and the power to save the Valley.
Since a certain boy
wizard and a hairy-footed hobbit travelled to the big screen, the fantasy
movie has become viable again at the box office but can 'The Secret of Moonacre'
follow that success?
The fantasy adventure
had all but disappeared from cinemas until two franchises took the box office
by storm, Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings. With both been juggernauts,
taking billions, film studios were quick to try and cash in on the success
but the results have been very mixed. While our trips to Hogwarts and Middle
Earth were guaranteed box office gold, film like 'Eragon', 'The Golden Compass',
'Inkheart' and even 'The Chronicles of Narnia' didn't come anywhere near to
recreating the success of the big two. This didn't stop studios trying however
and 'The Secret of Moonacre' is the next to attempt to do so.
Based on the novel
'The Little White Horse' by Elizabeth Goudge and directed by 'Bridge to Terabithia'
helmer and 'Rugrats' and 'The Wild Thornberrys' creator Gabor Csupo, the movie
has everything going for it but unfortunately it doesn't deliver. While the
film is clearly aimed at family audiences, especially those with slightly
younger children but unfortunately they have forgotten to work on the story.
The basic elements
are there. We have a magical valley that has been in decay for hundreds of
years since Nature itself put a terrible curse on it. If the magical moon
pearls are not returned to nature after five thousand moon rises then the
valley will be destroyed but generations of the Merryweather and De Noir have
been too busy fighting to save themselves. It wasn't until young Maria Merryweather
comes to the valley that Moonacre has a chance of been saved. This might sound
all well and good but it is the execution that is disappointing as we are
greeted with a complete mess with the actors trying their best to make sense
Director Gabor Csupo
has gathered together a fine cast however to try and make the most of things.
Juliet Stevenson has fun as the wind filled nanny Miss Heliotrope, Natascha
McElhone is beautiful as Loveday, Ioan Gruffudd is reclusive enough as Sir
Benjamin and Dakota Blue Richards returns to fantasy as Maria. Tim Curry is
seriously underused as Coeur De Noir, as the character has no substance at
'The Secret of Moonacre'
is a huge disappointment. With all the elements for a great fantasy available,
director Gabor Csupo has failed to deliver anything that could be expressed
as great. With script of the beloved novel never quite capturing the magic
of the original material, this is a fantasy movie that tries but never quite
has magic to succeed.
PICTURE & SOUND
Presented in Widescreen 1.85:1
Anamorphic with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, the transfer is good.
It is a very rare thing but 'The
Secret of Moonacre' has no bonus features at all. This will come as huge disappointment
to fans and is not the way DVD should be released.
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