Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary by Tim Burton; 'Edward
Bloom at Large' featurette; 'Amos at the Circus' featurette. 'Fathers
and Sons' featurette; 'The Filmmakers' Path' featurette; 'A Fairytale
World' featurette; 'Creature Features' featurette; 'The Author's
Journey' featurette; The Finer Points - Tim Burton Trivia Quiz.
ONLY Tim Burton could take the painful story of an estranged
sons reconciliation with his terminally ill father and make
it one of the most enchanting and uplifting stories of any year.
With Big Fish, Burton returns to the type of bittersweet fantasy
film-making that helped to establish him as one of modern cinemas
great visionaries, and it is a richly rewarding and viscerally
enthralling experience from start to finish.
Billy Crudup stars as Will Bloom, the estranged son in question,
who becomes reunited with his father, Ed (Albert Finney), upon
hearing of his impending death, and sets out to uncover the truth
behind many of the outrageous yarns he has been forced to listen
to, over and over.
For Ed, however, this dream life has become his own private truth
and his wondrous tales are relayed via a series of flashbacks,
in which Ewan McGregor portrays the big fish from
a small town, who sets out to make a name for himself in the world.
Based on the novel by Daniel Wallace, Big Fish harks back to
classic storytelling in grand fashion, which, while certainly
twee and sentimental in places, consistently delights without
feeling too manipulative.
The film benefits greatly from some terrific performances from
its top-notch cast, with Finney shining brightest, as the father
who consistently applies a tale to almost every situation, thereby
ensuring that there wont be a dry eye in the house by the
time things reach their denouement.
But Crudup plays his frustrations well, while McGregor oozes
the type of gee-whizz charisma he so expertly displayed
in the lacklustre Down With Love,
providing an excellent companion for viewers through Eds
early adventures - even though his near-permanent smile threatens
to become a little tiresome.
And while the main meat of the film comes in the form of the
relationship between father and son, Burton refuses to allow things
to become heavy-handed, littering his characters journeys
with some truly delightful fantasy sequences, which may or may
not reside in the truth.
Such moments including Eds departure from the little town
of Ashton with a friendly local giant, his brief detour in the
strange town of Spectre, his time at the circus with Danny DeVitos
dubious owner, and his heart-warming courtship of Alison Lohmans
sweet Sandra, as well as his army spell in Asia, where he encounters
a pair of single-bodied Siamese twin entertainers.
Assisting him, too, are the likes of Helena Bonham Carter, as
both a friendly witch and a former great love, and Steve Buscemi,
as a poet-turned-bank robber, who bring all of the usual Burton
quirkiness to their performances.
After the critical derision which greeted Burtons remake
of Planet of the Apes,
it is reassuring to find the director returning to the type of
territory he feels most comfortable within. Free from the burden
of blockbuster expectations, he is allowed to revel in his own
imagination, and the path he leads viewers down makes for a richly
In short, Big Fish is a great catch for any fan of imaginative