Saturday 3 October 2009

Something Wicked This Way Comes

I always thought that was the coolest line.

From the novel by Ray Bradbury, a carnival rolls into town one day and soon after that people start disappearing. Mr. Dark, the man who runs the carnival, possesses a magic that grants his patrons' deepest desires. At a price. Best friends Jim and Will are onto Mr. Dark, and must find a way to stop him from destroying the lives of everyone in town, but Mr. Dark has a plan of his own to deal with the two boys.

Something Wicked This Way Comes is as much about childhood coming-of-age, as it is about grownup regret. Jim and Will are only twelve, but they must face-off against an adult villain because the town's grownups are, for various reasons, incapable of lending assistance. Save for Jim's father, Charles. But Charles is old, older than Mr. Dark, and he's limited in what he can do. Throughout the course of the film Charles struggles with himself, with his feelings of inadequacy, and his constant regret over the things he never did for Jim.

Like Charles, the other townsfolk spend their days wishing their lives were different, better, and Mr. Dark preys on each of them in turn, addressing the film's controlling theme of wish fulfillment. Interestingly, it's not only adults who are susceptible to Mr. Dark's powers; the fatherless Will is a potential victim, as well.

Made by Disney, the film caters to a family audience and isn't nearly as dark as it could be. It also suffers a bit from uneven pacing. But Jonathan Pryce as the malevolent Mr. Dark makes up for the film's shortcomings.

"By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes."

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