I watched the theatrical Where the Wild Things Are back in the day, without knowing much about the book it was based on (must be popular in English-speaking countries only). I found the movie nice to look at but weak as cinema, narratively pretty much the equivalent of spending a couple of hours in the park watching kids at play, and not much else. A particular let down coming from Spike Jonze, having enjoyed his previous stuff.
When njvc announced his edit, the concept intrigued me, and I checked out the book in preparation. I must say the book won me over from the start, it’s pure charm and feels a lot like what being a kid was all about for me back then. Also, I thought the Max in the book was a real kid, while movie Max was a Hollywood kid (nothing against the actor, he performed very well for a child, it’s just the way the character was written). I got also shocked that they didn’t use for the movie what I thought was the most cinematic image in the book: the forest growing in Max’s bedroom. I would have expected its inclusion to be assured.
Then I got to the Wild Rumpus edition. How did I feel about it, particularly considering that the Max in the edit is even less like its book counterpart than the Max in the theatrical version?
Pure and simple, I loved every second of it. It’s one of the most beautiful fanedits I’ve ever seen. Or dare I say, the most beautiful.
And Max manages to be more like in the book by being less like in the book. That is, the theatrical release tried to have it both ways by having the kid naughty as in the book yet at the same time quiet and sensitive. The edit focuses on the quiet and sensitive aspect, thus allowing the character to grow its own personality and not seem indecisive about how he’s supposed to be. Another thing I loved was the fact that it goes back and forth between the real world and the wild things world in Max’s imagination. The way the book is written, albeit linear, leaves clear that it’s all part of Max’s imagination, while the theatrical release is somewhat ambiguous about it. The edit fixes that and helps follow Max’s visits to the wild things as his way to “escape” his reality.
Then there’s the music, which is perfect. The generic original score is discarded in favor of a brilliantly selected collection of indie songs, all of which fit each scene to a T. Kudos to njvc’s musical sensibilities.
The technical stuff is also consistently good, video and audio are fine and editing looks totally professional, with no hard cuts or bad mixes to speak of. Extra features include a nice audio commentary, an overview of the deleted stuff, trailers, and a short storybook version edit that is worth the download alone.
Plain and simple, one of the best edits of the year. 10/10.
Okay, just watched this fanedit and I agree that it was, well, simply better!
Maybe because I liked the original movie quite a bit I did not realized that this movie SCREAMED for an edit like this one.
Taking the non-linear route was indeed the way to go and njvc does it masterfully. The pace is IMO better. We follow Max’s journey and feel his emotions better. The new musics fit perfectly. It’s technicaly impeccable and the presentation is classy.
I don’t know if njvc had in mind to make a “better” movie. Sometime we faneditors just want to make alternate takes or try new ways to tell a story according to our own taste, hoping other people would find it good. The results are sometimes weird but interesting, sometimes completely differents. But this fanedit shows a great respect to the original while being (and I say it again) a better movie.
This was the perfect idea and the perfect way to push an already good movie a bit further.
There really is not anything further that I can add to the comments that proceed mine. This is simply a tour-de-force of fanediting. I downloaded the BD edit of this, and everything about smacks of top-notch perfection. From the flawless BD menu, spectacular picture quality and flawless editing, this is what I would hope all faneditors aspire to, both in terms of creativity and execution.
Just to cover the bases:
Image Quality. BD was spectacular. 10/10
Audio Quality. Sounded fantastic on my home audio. 10/10
Video Editing: Flawless. Impossible to determine that this wasn’t released in a theater. 10/10
Audio Editing: The audio levels are vastly improved over the workprint which I saw, but still not quite as even as I would prefer, but I think this is a matter of personal taste rather than execution. No pops, no stray audio, everything blends perfectly so 10/10.
Menu and Special Features: Professional quality. I can only hope to have menus this spectacular. 10/10
Story: I enjoy the original version, it’s a great movie and is not flawed in any specific way, which makes NJVC’s decision to take it on all the more impressive. As much as I do like the original however, it’s exceedingly depressing. Spike did a great job at exploring the mind and world of a troubled youth, but it is far from the charming, simple book which I adore.
I don’t think any amount of editing could create the world as I see it in the book when I read it to my kids, but NJVC does an amazing job of remolding the film into something that still generates empathy and angst, but without overwhelming you. This is my replacement copy now. Chances are that when I sit down to watch WTWTA, it is the Wild Rumpus Edition that I’ll pop into the player.
The problem with screening a pre-release of a movie is that it is really hard to get motivated to re-watch and post an official review. In this case it was a pleasure.
As one who can be quite critical of audio, I am pleased to report that the audio with headphones sounds near perfect on this final release. The audio track is not in surround, but that is ok. It is so music heavy that the surround is not missed.
The story and emotional beats are perfect. The way in which the original has been psychologically abstracted and re-scored is brilliant. Now instead of watching Max from a distance, we are inside of Max’s head and right there with him every step of the way. Everything about Wild Rumpus Edition feels original and fresh. This is what fanediting is all about.
As a movie, this is the kind of movie I absolutely love where I can talk about it for hours with friends or loved ones after it is over. There is so much here to think about, interpret, and talk about!
I was joking with NJVC recently that maybe this will be the fanedit that bridges the gap with the female gender?? Show it to your female friends, girlfriends, wives, & daughters. Make some popcorn, pop this edit in, and settle in with loved ones for a beautiful night.
Fanedit rating of 10/10.
(Fanedit rating focuses on technical and creative criteria that pertain specifically to the scope and depth of changes made from the source material by the faneditor. In other words, I might hate the movie but still give a high fanedit rating if I really respect the re-editing work done to it.)
Movie rating of 10/10.
(Movie rating judges on traditional criteria of quality/enjoyment as if this were an original theatrical release being seen for the first time.)
Just had to write a quick review of this edit. I liked the original film a lot but this edit takes it from 4/5 to flat-out 5/5 classic. Seriously, for anyone who even remotely enjoyed WTWTA, this is a gigantic treat. I guess it also helps that the music you chose is exactly the stuff I’m into (Wake Up in particular, my favourite Arcade Fire song, just kills in the way you used it).
I don’t usually write reviews… frankly because I’m lazy, but for anyone who hasn’t seen this yet you need to download it. You’ll love it. Guaranteed.
I’d definitely rank this alongside Adywan’s ANH and TMBTM’s War of the Stars as the best fanedits I’ve seen. Congratulations on creating such a great edit.