Last month, I wrote an article comparing the various film forms of the musical Annie, and I discussed the hopes for the recent new film and possibilities that could occur. Well now the new film is out, and having seen it in the cinema, I thought I’d offer a post-film review of it, to discuss whether it matched up to both my expectations and those of the world as a whole.
To begin with, the film has received varying reviews from critics and the public worldwide. A lot have criticised it for varying strongly from the other film versions, and have stated that they believe it is nowhere near as good, but I think that the problem is more that the temptation is far too strong with a film like this to compare to the previous incarnations, and if more people went into the cinema for this film having never heard the story before, it would have received much better reviews.
There were several key story changes that were made from the original, so if you are a fan of the original film and don’t want any spoilers before seeing the new one, you may not want to read the rest of this article. To begin with, Miss Hannigan is not the manager of an orphanage in this film, but is instead a foster parent, who has taken in a large number of children, but does not look after them properly. This was a good change that worked in my mind at least, because it updated the story, bringing it into the current day. Another change was that the character of Rooster from the original, was not really present, but instead it is Will Stacks’ (the new Oliver Warbucks) Public Relations man that suggest the idea of impersonating Annie’s parents to Miss Hannigan. What I really liked, actually, from this film, was that Miss Hannigan was not portrayed as the root of all evil, as she is in some of the earlier film versions, but is shown to be just a bit lost from the path, we actually get to see her transform a bit more as a character. One moment I really liked from the film was it opening with another girl in the class called Annie, who was styled in the traditional way for the character, with red hair and freckles, and then the Annie of this story was asked to come up, and I think this was a nice transition from the old character, to the new one in this story.
Changes to the songs were in some cases very mild, and were just changes in the orchestrations (the instruments used), using more modern pop sounds, for example ‘Maybe’. However, in many cases, the songs were almost completely new, with just a couple of lines of the original. A couple of the new songs I wasn’t a massive fan of, for example I felt like ‘I’m gonna like it here’ was made a little awkward to watch. On the other hand, the majority of the songs, while not being quite the original, were good adaptations to modern pop and fulfilled the same purpose, including ‘Little Girls’ sung by Cameron Diaz as Miss Hannigan. The completely new songs too were really good, such as ‘Opportunity’ sung by Annie, and ‘Who am I’, sung by sevral of the characters. This song in particular contained the emotional transition of Miss Hannigan’s character from bad to good, which I thought was a welcome addition to the story. I really enjoyed the use of a new overture to open the film as well, which used natural sounds from around the city to make the music.
In terms of the acting, Quvenzhane Wallis did a splendid job in the title role, and she really was a perfect Annie for me. The new billionaire character of Will Stacks was also portrayed well by Jamie Foxx, whilst Rose Byrne gave a mixed performance. At times she was really good, whilst I think in some songs, her performance came off as a bit forced. This could have been the songs at fault here though, rather than the acting itself. Cameron Diaz, was also really good in some parts of the story, for example in the transition to being good, but earlier on, when she is supposed to be really mean, I’m not sure she pushed it quite far enough.
This film is, I’ll admit very different from the original, so if you were looking for another film representation of the stage musical, you’ll likely hate this adaptation, but I think that if you go in with an open mind, you can enjoy this film as a completely new story aside from any preconceptions. I think the reaction of children to this film in particular shows that it is only the audience that is the problem here. This is a great retelling of the story, just aimed at a new generation.
Image from: http://e.movie.as/p/183580.jpg