Reviewed by Tempest
No alternate review available
All The Adventure Your Imagination Can Hold.
Based on a book of the same name, The Pagemaster is a blend of real life acting and animation. This is an interesting movie trying to show that reading can be a wonderful adventure. I am a bit surprised that this movie hasnít performed well at the box office because the quality of the animation (in term of fluidity) was very good for the time. Moreover, the animation is about friendship, courage and the journey of Richard Tyler crossing the way of many popular fictional characters should, in theory, encourage children to read more about them.
While the movie makes references to about dozen classic fictional characters and stories, with only 85 minutes, it only scratches the surface of a few main tales and makes quick one-line reference to the others. Despite this, the movie remains enjoyable, original and promote positives values.
The story is about Richard Tyler (Macaulay Culkin), a clever but over-cautious boy who is affray of pretty much everything; the dark, the level of mercury in tuna sandwich, falling from a ladder, getting a head trauma, electric plug, etc. His father has built him a tree house he is affray to use and despite his best efforts, Richard relying on statistics, refuses to take any kind of risk. One day when his father ask him to purchase nails and on his ay to the store, Richard gets caught in a thunderstorm and seeks refuge in a library where he meets Mr. Dewey (Christopher Lloyd) the librarian. To Mr Dewey disapointment, Richard isn't interested in borrowing a book; only to phone his parents. So on his way to the phone booth at the back of the library, he slips on the water that was leaking from his coat and hit his head. As he retain consciousness, he find himself alone in the dark and the painting on the ceiling begin to drip and fall on the ground before finally engulfing him into a world of cartoon. There, the Pagemaster (voiced by Christopher Lloyd) tell him that to find his way home he must face 3 tests: horror, adventure and fantasy.
The first book he meet is Adventure (voiced by Patrick Stewart), a cocky and often over-confident character dressed like a pirate. The book agrees to help Richard, as the library card he has is his ticket to be taken out of the library. As he walk around the cartoon library, he meet Fantasy (voiced by Whoopi Goldberg), a kind and lovely book who also agree to help Richard as a way to be taken out of the library. So the trio wanders in the horror section, they meet the last member of the small group in a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde setting: Horror (voiced by Frank Welker), a shy but good-hearted book. Together they must reach the "Exit" that will bring Richard back to the real world.
With his new friend Richard found the courage to face the difficulties ahead. In the path of Richard and the books, they encounter many fictional characters such as Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (voiced by Leonard Nimoy), Captain Ahab (voiced by George Hearn) and Long John Silver (voiced by Jim Cummings).
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At the end of his adventures, Richard realizes that if the Pagemaster has brought him directly to the end, he wouldn't have found the courage to face his own fears.
The animation is not exceptional in term of color but in term of fluidity, it certainly something quite good. The animation is clear and makes fluid transitions as the context and mood change during the movie.
Sound & Music:
It's always hard to judge but the music is fine and follows the mood of the story. I don't think there is a song in particular that stood out as clearly exceptional but the music is varied and appropriate in all situations.
The movie one part of real acting with real people and perhaps four parts of animation. The real characters are credible, they don't have a lot of screen time but they play their role well.
As for the animation part, the characters sound right and while they are a bit of a caricature of the subject they represent (the movie is not intended for adults, after all) they are the kind of characters you care about. There is ample character development for the main characters (Richard and the books that follow him) but on the downside, the vilains and secondary characters they meet during their journey have very little screen time and the movie don't really elaborate much on their personality.
Note: the overall is not an average, but more a general appreciation of the movie as a whole.
R a t i n g
|Images:||(8.0/10) - Very Good|
|Sound & Music:||(7.0/10) - Good|
|Story line:||(7.0/10) - Good|
|Acting:||(7.0/10) - Good|
|Innovation:||(8.5/10) - Very Good|
|Educational Value or|
Level of Wisdom:
|(8.0/10) - Very Good|
|Overall:||(7.5/10) - Good
A rating of 5/10 should be considered as something not good but not bad either (# bad points = # good points).