Skellig Review: Dance, Magic, Dance!

April 11, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews



SKELLIG, Sunday 12th April, SKY1, 7.00PM

I still maintain that Labyrinth is the most magical childrens film known to man; setting a standard so truly perfect that copycats can only stumble as they attempt to clutch at its slippery coattails. Skellig is one such imitator, with influences ranging from Stig of The Dump to Roald Dahl but failing to create that essence of true majesty for itself.

Based on the book by David Almond, Skellig is the tale of Mikey Cooper: a young lad who has recently moved into a rundown old house with his dad and heavily pregnant mum. Set against the backdrop of his adjustment to a new home, an odd friendship with eccentric neighbour Meena and the anxiety brought on by his prematurely born sister, Mikey is inexplicably drawn to the shed at the bottom of the overgrown garden. Here he discovers Skellig (Tim Roth), a weathered, scaly being with the power of ESP and an extra set of eyelids.

Skellig becomes akin to a science project for Mikey and Meena; when they discover his thin, balding excuses for wings, the pair become increasingly determined to rejuvenate the ailing creature. As Mikey is powerless to improve his baby sister’s health, healing Skellig becomes his coping mechanism.

I particularly enjoyed the character of grandma/prophet Grace, a tough old bird who attributes her youthful attitude to a hardcore regime of grapes and cod liver oil (not to mention the power of an amazing pink velour nightgown). Grace comes out with some truly obvious inspirational chat: “Them’s that can fly, should fly? (well, duh) and suddenly Mikey realises that all he has to do is jump off a tower to get Skellig to save his sister’s life. Confused? Yeah me too.

I couldn’t escape the feeling that the story failed to congeal into one solid plotline. It felt like lots of little detailed pieces of a patchwork quilt that merely floated in the same hemisphere, without being properly tied together. There were many question-raising moments: why did Mikey and Skellig waste time with a Never Ending Story-style flight montage when the kid knows his sister is dying? And why do I keep waiting for Tim Roth to whip out a pistol and attempt to rob a nearby coffee shop?

I appreciate the film’s magical sentiment but the power of the imagination only goes so far when the substance is lacking. I kept waiting for the moment when Skellig would truly impress, but it never came. Big-haired Bowie and the Muppets still reign supreme.

Sally McIlhone

Do you agree with Sally’s review? Let us know below. Also check out OTB’s review of the Smegtastic return of Red Dwarf – funny like the Easter Bunny? Or about as amusing as zombie Jesus? Speaking of the J-man himself why not read our featured tribute to the ultimate Resurrectee. It’s better than all the chocolate in Christendom…