The movie I just watched a film that actually came out in 2009, and it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated picture. At first I was surprised that this was nominated, I had never heard of it or saw it advertised in theaters. It bothers me sometimes when movies that get nominated or consider a nomination and I don't get a chance to watch it and express my opinion on it. Anyway, I'll just say that I'm glad I caught this one before I completely forgot about it.
The Secret of Kells takes place in the 9th century of which I think is Ireland, because pretty much everyone had an Irish accent (except for one character who had an African accent). We first start with a narration from a mysterious young girl who claims to have seen such things as great storms and terrible wars. We are then introduced to Brendon, played by Evan McGuire, an inquisitive young boy who wishes to see great things outside the walls of The Abbey of Kells, which he currently resides. He is being instructed in the ways of the illuminators, men who help keep the written word alive by scribing books. The scribes tell of a book called the Book of Iona, which is said will help light the world from darkness. When fellow abbot, Brother Aidan arrives, he brings with him the Book of Iona itself, which he rescued from invading Vikings. When Brendan sees the art and beauty of that the book holds, he is invited to help finish the book. To do this though he must sneak out of the castle to collect supplies, which is when we meet Aisling, a fairy-like girl who is lives and is connected to the neighboring woods. They become friends and Aisling opens Brendan's mind a little more.
Just letting you know, this is a hand drawn animated movie. Hand drawn animation is starting to fade away with the evolution of computer animation, but this is evidence that it isn't quite dead yet. The animation is stunning and the beautiful visuals have to be noticed. The artwork reminds me of a cleaner Genndy Tartakovsky cartoon (Power Puff Girls, Samurai Jack), but with a higher budget. The film also throws a few moments of computer animation but overall, its 2D all the way.
The voice over work is especially done well. Christine Mooney does a great job giving Aisling a mature voice for such a young character, and Brendan Gleeson, (28 Day Later and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), does an excellent job as well playing Abbot Cellach the protective uncle of Brendan, who believes that the wall around their abbey will protect the people, and not a book. Other actors/actresses who I didn't know finish up with their parts very well to help complete the cast.
The music to the film was amazing as well. We get to hear beautiful Irish folk music as our score and I couldn't help to tap my feel along to the beat. There is also a lovely little song that Aisling sings while she uses her magic and if you happen to be a person easily moved by music, you may shed a tear. Not only do we get upbeat music we also hear very dramatic music from a choir of singers that sound like it should be in a film much bigger than this one.
The only gripe I have with this movie is the runtime, it's only an HOUR and FIFTEEN MINUTES. What kind of movie is that? It's WAY to short, especially for an animated movie. I know that sometimes animated movies don't go for too long but with this story and these characters who I started to care for, I wanted more. The relationship I saw between Brendan and Aisling was particularly short, we see them together maybe four times, the scenes we see them in seem pretty long, but I kind of wanted them to fall in love or something, like in Let the Right One In. I wanted a more meaningful relationship between these two, is that too much to ask?
To sum everything up, the movie was visually great, but lacked in runtime. If you see this at the video store or online somewhere, definitely check it out.
MY RATING: 9/10