Where The Wild Things Are: The Wild Rumpus Edition

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(Updated: March 08, 2013)
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10.0
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10.0
March 1, 2012 @ 10:10 am

When njvc first announced this edit I was skeptical how well he would pull off his intention due to a lack of “real world” scenes. I can safely say that my fears were quelled.

njvc has made an absolutely perfect fanedit. This is a beautiful piece of work and it should be seen by everybody. Well done!

The quality is top-notch, even in the single-layer DVD. And the extras were a real treat, especially the commentary with Mr. and Mrs. njvc.

10/10!

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(Updated: November 19, 2013)
Overall rating
 
9.8
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10.0
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10.0
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10.0
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9.0
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10.0
Whoa. I just watched this edit and I felt I must immediately write a review. This might turn into a rant or a stream of consciousness, that happens when I'm still working out my thoughts. Anyway, this edit right here, this edit is astounding.

I have to make a confession: I have not seen the theatrical version of Where the Wild Things Are. Now, don't worry. I own it, it was given to me as a gift some time ago. But before I ever got around to watching it, I saw NJVC was doing an edit. So I read his general reasons for editing, and I realized that he was crafting WTWTA into the film I already thought it was. I too was mesmerized by that theatrical trailer. I loved the book as a child, and something about that trailer just felt so right to me. So when I read what NJVC was doing, I knew I couldn't watch the theatrical when something better was on the way. (As to why it's taken me this long - who knows. I guess the part of me that didn't believe the book should be made into a movie got in the way.)

This movie is beautiful. More specifically, this movie is beautiful because of this edit. This edit is beautiful. I felt it best to read the changes before writing the review - so I have some sort of idea as to what NJVC did (his editing is invisible as far as I can see), and wow, he did a lot. Honestly, I don't want to watch the theatrical version. Before I watched this all I could remember from the ITW thread was that the film was re-scored. Now, my first thought as to the changes is "why didn't the filmmakers intercut the real and fake world? Why was Max a brat?" etc. But that's not really fair. I'm not going to say that. What I am going to say is that NJVC made some absolutely brilliant editing choices.

This really is quite a unique film, at least now it is because of NJVC. What we have here is like something I've never seen before. It's less a traditional 'movie' and more of an emotional cinematic experience. It's like a Terence Malick film... if all the voice-overs were replaced with indie rock. It's truly amazing, and, like I said before, quite beautiful.

My one qualm is in the ending. I like how it's edited and it flows well, but I'm not sure I'm okay with it's implication. It seems to reverse Max's arc in the film. He finally learned to quit imagining friends, but after his mom ignores him again he's back to where the wild things are. Reminds me of an alcoholic. I don't know, I might be okay with it, I'm just not sure yet. A happier ending would have been Max finally playing with a real kid. But maybe this (somewhat cynical) ending is more realistic. And, well, the wild things will keep Max happy. I don't know, I have to think about it some more.

Looking back at the change list I'm certain I don't want to watch the theatrical version. I'd like to pretend that this is it. I feel like if I watched the theatrical version it would take away from the magic. Like if I watched the raw footage from a Terence Malick film. This is an incredible edit and I'm sure I'll see it again and again. Nice work.

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Overall rating
 
8.4
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
Audio Editing
 
9.0
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10.0
Narrative
 
5.0
Enjoyment
 
6.0
I had to add my dissenting opinion to the otherwise glowing reviews here. There may be some people who will find it helpful or informative.

What NJVC has done here is technically very impressive. His edits are not simply "seamless", they are artful. Audio crossover fades keep things moving and provide a sense of continuity between scenes which otherwise might be lacking. The song choices are inspired and do SO MUCH to increase the enjoyment of the film. There is a lot to appreciate in this edit.

The areas I feel differently than the other reviews basically fall into two categories.

This film is based on one of my favorite books as a kid, and I love the framework of that adventure. A boy goes off on a scary adventure where he 'out-wilds' the wild things and becomes their king before going back home. There's a sense of a grand journey that builds in scale. I feel a lot of that is lost with the restructuring of the scenes and the cutting back and forth in time.

The original film did a great thing when it framed Max's wildness as A) acting out due to the family breaking down and B) a selfish problem to be outgrown. This allows the film to not only be an adventure, but to also be a tale of heartbreak and redemption, where you see Max unable to take his new family situation and run away, then it becomes a coming-of-age story where he comes to terms with the fallibility of adults and the idea that there "is no such thing as a perfect king". He learns to think of others, stop expecting so much, and value teamwork and building something long-term.

For me, the structure of the new narrative does a great disservice to the themes of the story. The pacing is totally thrown off, with Max just suddenly being on an adventure but without the sense of danger and desperation and angst he originally brought to it (which is reflected in the Wild Things, like all his feelings). Then the constant flashbacks in the middle of the film are so on-the-nose paralleled to their real-world components, it doesn't feel like Max has run away from his problems, it feels like he is playing in his own world, consistently imagining monsters and adventures while at home. The ending is the worst of all. It undoes the mother's forgiveness and understanding, and changes the film from Max growing and learning a lesson to Max just having a string of creative adventures. By moving a scene from earlier in the film to the end, the interacting between Max and Mom implies no lessons were learned by either, and the whole thing was just one event in a series. You could argue that it actually doesn't make any sense, but I'll stop at saying that it just doesn't fit with the narrative throughline of the film.

The original film was imperfect. It definitely needed a bit more of the emotive magic that NJVC's musical edits put in. It also probably needed a bit more fleshing out of the story with some more explicit details to add depth. For me though, this edit goes the opposite direction and makes the film very superficial and just 'a boy's adventure'. It's worth a watch, to be sure, and everyone can then make up their own mind. But for me the original film is a much deeper and more emotionally cathartic journey.

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