Ian McKellen, on the other hand, is perfect for this role given his Lord of the Rings' Gandalf fame, which helps cement the idea of how powerful children's books can be to readers and the franchise that it can become. The passion shown by Gabriel for the fantasyland and the book’s fans makes me wish I actually had read Neverwas.
The love story between Murphy and Eckhart was a bit too contrived for my liking. Eckhart seemed a little too eager and awestruck in his performance in the beginning, which negates his character's age and doctoral profession. However, his performance ends up being very endearing as well.
The film's narrative and dreamlike fantasy shots and flashbacks help make the story even more majestic — more like the fable featured within the story. The jumping back and forth narrative and crouched low shots can be a bit dizzying at times, but also helps to set the fantasy mood. I was very impressed with the creative and unique style featured in this film; it often helped make up for the weaker plot moments and scenes that seemed to drag.
Overall, it's Harry Potter meets One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. And although it's not the most fast paced film, it's very well done and stylish for a first time director. It’s especially perfect for a rental or when you feel the urge to see an avant-garde film.
An intriguing, stylish, and magical flick.
Slow beginning, dull at times with plot holes in the screenplay, and a too tidy of an ending.
On the Side:
Ian McKellen's character was originally named Virgil until he told the director that no British male is really named Virgil; the character was changed to Gabriel. Also the director and writer, Joshua Michael Stern, did many of the child book artwork featured in the film.
Final Grade: C+
Directed by: Joshua Michael Stern
Writing Credits: Joshua Michael Stern
Release Date: September 9, 2005 [Toronto Film Festival]
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic issues.
Run Time: 108 min.
By Tara Settembre, Staff Writer for Film School Rejects