In my quest to see the animated films of 2014 I had a chance tonight to see the french movie Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart. It’s available to all subscribers right now on Netflix and I think it is worth a watch although it has its issues.
It’s probably the most steampunk influenced animation I’ve seen since Treasure Planet, so if you are a fan of steampunk than you will especially love it.
Much like Book of Life the artistic style is the films strength. It looks very creative (as steampunk is prone to do) and it surprised me with each character design, setting and creatures. That said, I did kind of wish they had not gone the CG route and done stop motion or hand drawn for this kind of story. I think it would have looked better and they would have gotten more emotion out of the characters who seemed flat on occasion despite the interesting design.
It kind of reminded me of Corpse Bride a little bit which is stop motion and I think this would have been better if it had taken that approach instead of CG.
The music is stronger than Book of Life. In fact, the entire movie is based on an album by an emo sounding band called Dionysos that included an illustrated novel by the lead singer. Not all the songs are memorable but they create wonderful mood that goes well with the visuals.
The story is the movies weakness. It starts out strong with Jack getting born on the coldest day on earth and his heart dies so a midwife puts a cuckoo-clock in the place of his heart.
The problem is he cannot get excited or fall in love with his clock heart or he could short circuit and die. (Robots and clocks are a big part of steampunk. It reminded me a lot of Hugo in that regard. Reminded me of a lot I guess!).
Unfortunately he meets a beautiful Spanish girl who sings and falls in love with her. He also decides to go to school and meets a bully named Joe.
It looked really cool throughout but for the last 45 minutes or so I really didn’t understand what was happening. There was a ghost train and he was chasing the girl and she didn’t like him and then liked him and then Joe comes and I don’t know what else.
In Book of Life they have the 2 characters in love with the same girl and the songs but I liked in Book of Life there was some good in both of the boys. It made it more interesting. Here Joe is just a bad guy from school onward. There was no motivation as to why he is a bully or mean to Jack.
Maybe I just need to watch it again to get a better idea of what was happening but n this watch through I was confused.
It also has a very poor English dubbing that doesn’t ever seem to match the lips very well, which is distracting. I almost wish they had just used subtitles if they were going to do it so cheaply.
But it is visually wonderful and I love the steampunk look and the music was neat. All together in spite of problems I still enjoyed watching it.
Have any of you seen it? What did you think?
Overall Grade- C
It is not for very small children who might get scared or feel it is too sad. More 10+