Cover Art and Menus: 6/10
The cover of Nim’s Island is very fantastical, just like the movie is supposed to be, and somewhat is. We have a colorful shot of the main characters surrounded by blue sky, blue water, and adorable animals. Not bad for a movie aimed at kids, and it really makes you want to watch the film (at least it made me feel that way.)
The menus are pretty bland, but efficient. Static and slightly boring compared to the cover and the beautiful scenery in the movie. The main menu is also seemed a bit gimmicky.
Nim’s Island is made for kids. By kids I mainly mean girl (and boys) about age 6-12. By saying that I am not saying that the movie is not enjoyable for everyone, but it seems to be made with younger females in mind. (Thin Charlotte’s Web, or just about anything with early Dakota Fanning). With that in mind, the extras on the disk are tailored (for the most part) with that age group in mind. I highly doubt kids are going to sit down to listen to Abigail Breslin and Jodie Foster’s commentary, or the second commentary included which is the married duo of Jennifer Flackett and Mark Levin. That being said they are actually pretty good commentaries. The Breslin and Foster commentary is a light hearted fun view of the film, and Foster does a great job of not talking down to Abigail Breslin, whose enthusiasm for the project is truly fantastic. The second commentary is also good, but lets be honest, most kids are not going to sit down and listen to the directors of the movie talk about their plans and ideas.
The rest of the extras are short, entertaining, and perfect for younger audiences. “Nim’s Friends” is a 6 minute short (they seem to all be around 6 minutes, which is nice) that delves into the animals that were used in the movie. Abigail Breslin spent a good amount of time getting to know the various creatures so that when she appears on the island with her “friends” the relationship looked real.
The next short is “Abigail’s Journey”, which documented the casting of Abigail Breslin, who was given the role of Nim even though the director’s initially state that they envisioned Nim as a sort of boy/girl mix. Abigail fit the part perfectly, and obviously gave the movie a true star in the main role.
Finally there is a short entitled “Working on Water”, which detailed the underwater sequences that were put together for the film. Interestingly enough, Abigail was not a great swimmer, and the crew had to adapt to make the scenes work. Basically the shorts were fun and informative, and worth a watch.
Then there are some deleted scenes that clock in at about 15 minutes. They really are superfluous to the movie and should not have been included, but there are scenes where Nim interacts with some of the characters from the books that she reads on the island, which could have extended the “fantasy” aspect of the movie that seems to be introduced and then abandoned.
Finally there are a few public service announcements regarding conservation and wildlife, and a few trailers that are thrown in for good measure. Again, not a bad selection of child-friendly extras.
Nim’s Island is a fantastic tale about Nim (Abigail Breslin), a young girl who lives with her father on a remote island. Nim’s mother is no longer in the picture, and Nim’s father is a research scientist who has carted off his little girl to a secluded island where they enjoy life as it comes. They have a beautiful house that somehow has the internet and electricity, but other than that they are living the modern day Robinson Crusoe adventure.
Nim loves to read stories about her hero Alex Rover, and she imagines Alex to be a tough adventurer along the lines of Indiana Jones. Interestingly enough Nim’s imagination has Alex looking just like her father (Gerard Butler), when in reality Alex Rover is Alexandra Rover (Jodie Foster) who is an author who is agoraphobic and locked in her apartment in New York.
The movie begins some absolutely amazing sequences that use some amazing visual techniques to present not only the story of Nim losing her mother to the sea, but also introducing us to Alex Rover as Nim envisions him; a rogue adventurer with a carefree view of the world. For me, these shots are the best parts of the film, and in my opinion they should have been used more to tell the story. After we get this amazing view of Nim’s world (think Michel Gondrey-esque) the story devolves into a more realistic, straight up story of Nim and her real life world. Occassionally we get glimpses of that fantastical view of Nim’s life, but it should have been used much more later in the film than it was.
After the beginning sequences are over, we see Nim and her father existing on their private island amidst the lush landscape and amongst various animals that are the closest things to Nim’s friends and classmates. We really get the idea that Nim and her father are perfectly happy spending their time on this island that they call home.
When Nim’s father is eventually separated from her and the island after a storm, Nim reaches out to Alex Rover via the internet for help. Nim’s imagination runs wild as tourists from a cruise ship invade her island, and she sets out to scare them away, while at the same time trying to find her father who is lost at sea. Alex finally decides (with the help of her imaginary character Alex, again played by Gerard Butler) to force herself to leave her apartment and trek across the world to save Nim. the story then involves Nim facing the fact that her hero is not what she thought she was, and dealing with her own fears, as she tries to hold on to her private island and find her father.
Abigil Breslin is very entertaining as Nim, and to me she is really starting to grow as an actress. While she does play essentially the same type of role in most of her films, it was nice to see her so enthusiastic in this role, and she was the main focus of the movie. I think she has a bright future ahead of her, and I hope she is given roles that continue to allow her to explore different emotions.
Gerard Butler is very good as Nim’s father, but even better as the adventurer Alex Rover. I thought his characters were believable and sincere. Jodie Foster however was just not the right fit for Alexandra Rover in my opinion, and I almost hate myself for saying that. Foster is an absolutely amazing actor, and she seems to be able to take on any role and fiercely evolve into the character that she is portraying. Having said that, this character was almost a bit too “silly” (for want of a better word) for Foster’s usually aggressive acting. She was just not really believable as the agoraphobic author, and by the end of the film she is jumping into the ocean and stealing rescue boats to save this girl she has never met. I just had a hard time with her in the role, as I didn’t really buy into it. Once she gets onto the island, she transforms into the amazing caring character that is not only believable, but heartwarming. It just seemed to be an odd match for Foster, and perhaps it was just the character that I didn’t believe, not so much Foster playing the character.
Video & Audio: 5/10
The video for Nim’s Island was a mixed bag for me actually. There were parts that looked amazing, and then parts of the movie that seemed a bit washed out and slightly grainy, which should not be the case in a movie relying on visuals as part of the story. Overall the beautiful scenery and amazing water shots rule the day, but I was not overwhelmed by the video.
The audio was well done, and the dialogue was rich and crisp. (In the modern day there are not too many problems with these DVDs, so I feel that I don’t usually have much to gripe about with regards to sound – which is fine with me.
If you have kids, this movie is fun to watch, and a nice story. I would recommend renting it for sure, but I am not sure that it is worth buying unless you have kids. The story had a lot of potential, and it meets about ¾ of that potential. I imagine most kids will love the story, but as an adult I was disappointed that after the amazingly sublime opening of the movie, the movie sits back and abandons that feeling of wonder. I for one would have liked the movie to keep up that idea more than it did, but I still enjoyed Nim’s Island, and will watch it again with my family.