Starring: Jack Black, Emily Blunt, Jason Segel
Director: Rob Letterman
Running Time: 85 mins
Gulliver’s Travels is an American film about a travel writer who, after venturing on a daring expedition, ends up in Liliput, a land of tiny people.
In all honesty, I wasn’t expecting that much from this film, and that’s exactly what I got out of it. While Gulliver’s Travels isn’t a particularly awful film, it’s a totally generic and often inconsequential watch, with very little in the way of genuinely entertaining action or comedy, and it’s a lot harder to really enjoy what should be a fun fantasy story.
But let’s start off on the bright side, with some of the performances. Again, there’s nothing particularly stellar about this film, but one thing that I did enjoy was definitely the lead performance by Jack Black, churning out another likable and consistent turn as the fully lovable protagonist, and although he doesn’t do much to bring his own character’s story to life, he’s a lot of fun to watch throughout.
Along with Black’s performance, I have to say that some of the visual effects here were pretty good too. When you realise it’s a film that was made on a budget of $112m, then it’s not quite as impressive (and a couple of scenes seem incredibly poor), however it does its most basic job very well from start to finish, and that’s bringing the fantasy world of Lilliput to life.
While some locations may just blatantly look like Greenwich, the film does a good job at making you believe in the world of little people, and with some decent special effects and CGI throughout, the way that Jack Black towers over the small people becomes an impressive centre for the film as a whole.
Despite all that, however, there’s not much more to really praise about Gulliver’s Travels. It’s got a lot of flaws, but its worst by a mile is undoubtedly how generic it is.
The story that the film is based on, the original Gulliver’s Travels, is a classic tale that whisks you away to far-away lands and grabs you in a vivid sense of fantasy and adventure throughout. This film, however, doesn’t go far enough with its fantasy and adventure, and although Lilliput is a convincing new world (albeit a little too similar to Greenwich at times), Gulliver’s adventure as a whole just isn’t.
That’s simply because the film puts a little too much focus on trying to be a light-hearted family comedy, and doesn’t recognise that there is a lot of potential there for a genuinely entertaining family adventure movie. Given that the comedic writing is far from spectacular, the film becomes a steady drag of frustrating and disappointing misfires that are used at the expense of a potentially lovely and enjoyable adventure (not to mention the pointless and predictable romance that comes into play at random points as well).
Overall, I wasn’t much of a fan of Gulliver’s Travels. Yes, it’s got a few positives, namely in Jack Black’s performance and its high-budget special effects, but it’s a generic Hollywood blockbuster that doesn’t have the heart to really deliver the magical adventure it wants to, and that’s what makes it such a disappointing watch in the end, which is why I’m giving it a 6.2.