Starring: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Kelsey Grammer, Ian Holm
Director: John Stephenson
Running Time: 91 mins
Animal Farm is an American film, based on George Orwell’s novel, about a group of animals who overthrow their oppressive farmer, but after setting up their own ‘perfect’ society, they discover similar problems arising.
This film just doesn’t live up to the legendary qualities of either the book, or the 1954 cartoon adaptation. Despite the story obviously being interesting, this film is quite poorly made in terms of its bizarre narrative, inconsistent atmosphere and unimpressive visual effects.
I’ll start with the positive: the plot. Of course, taken from the classic novel, the well-known story still remains impressive, and its incredibly close representation of the actual events that went on in the USSR post-Bolshevik Revolution is always a hugely interesting theme to follow, so that was the main bulk of the success of this film.
However, when this film starts to steer away from the original story, it begins to fall down. Although I credited the 1954 version with a little bit of originality and artistic license, this film goes so far with a completely different feel that it’s just nowhere near as interesting to follow.
The main issue regarding that is the fact that the whole plot is narrated by a dog called Jessie. This isn’t at all alike the original, and it just doesn’t work well enough in making the story as good as it can be, for a variety of reasons, mainly due to the fact that Jessie is a relatively insignificant character in the grand scheme of things, and therefore you just don’t care about her opinion on the matters.
Another reason for that downfall is because her insignificant role makes the film seem all the more oppressive. Although that is the ultimate goal of the original story, that atmosphere doesn’t fit at all well with this film, which appears to be some sort of attempt at a kids’ version of the terribly dark story.
And that was surely the biggest problem for me in this film. On the one hand, you have a relatively cheesy and comedic atmosphere in the story, designed to appeal to the kids, with any over 11 unable to watch without grinding their teeth to pieces, but then it often becomes unbelievably dark and dramatic, more so than the ’54 version ever does, which makes it absolutely unsuitable for kids to watch, so there’s no good balance at all here.
Finally, the visuals are just annoying. Live action just doesn’t really work with this type of story, mainly because of the horrifically bad 1990s CGI work on the animals to make them move oddly or talk, similar to what it’s like in Babe. That’s just so annoying that it really pulls you completely out of the story.
Overall, this gets a 5.5, because although it has a classic story, it falls down in all the areas where it tries to go alone.