Animal Kingdom: Mid-budget Australian crime film focuses on one family and their ongoing struggle against the Melbourne police department. Probably more at home on TV than the big screen, there’s a few misfires that lead this high-potential film astray. The single biggest mistake was that it could have been an epic story, but the director forces it down the arthouse route, and it just didn’t work for me. Other faux pas’ were that it focuses on the wrong characters, honing in on the most silent and blank-faced kid; the music was so distracting – terrible psychological synths turned up to 11 that ironically drown out any ambience; moreover, it’s to bleak, grim and nihilistic – making it a difficult story to watch. What saved this from obscurity was the fantastic cast, some of whom you completely invest in: the mother and eldest son are two of the most heinous characters you’ll see this year and you even end up rooting for the wayward brothers; although he’s good, the main actor is one of the weakest in the film. Fiercely over-hyped, and at almost two hours, Animal Kingdom is dragged out at a pace that cripples the movie and really fails to engage. While it’s not in the same league as Romper Stomper and Chopper it will have the same effect in bumping much of the little known actors up to a bigger stage.
Wow, harsh review, man. While I agree that the movie’s slow pacing really hurt it overall — especially in the first half hour or so — I thought it picked up in the second half and ended on a strong note. It’s not as good as many have said, but I liked it well enough.
I don’t think this needed to be an epic story at all; it’s not Heat, but something more intimate. Putting it on a larger scale could easily have distracted from the primary focus on Joshua’s conflict and seriously messed with the film’s themes on family ties and loyalty. As it stands, it’s a quiet, small picture, which is pretty much what it needs to be to stand out amongst the more brash and bombastic crime films of the day.
Okay. I am now waiting for video.
Don’t get me wrong, I can see how the story’s powerful and that there’s some drama in here but for me the elements came together in the wrong volumes. Also, the music totally killed any vibe I was getting…
SPOILER ALERT – They also killed off the watchable characters too soon!