For all the artistry of the costumes, the acting and overall excellence of the camera and scenic work, the violence inherent in Where the Wild Things Are is overwhelming, disquieting and off putting. The Director missed the mark of translating a subtle, wonderfully imaginative book into a film. Instead it belongs in the Horror Section of the local video store.
In my opinion, Jonze betrayed the spirit of the book. When reading the original text, even with the accompanying pictures, our minds are invited to fill in the open spaces. We can imagine and sustain our own idea of how scary Max's situation is, quite a lot or just a little, depending on our life experience of violence, anger, pain or neglect. But in this film, the director has ir-responsibly presented a level of violence way beyond what most adults or children can or want to imagine.
The book, Where The Wild Things Are has been serving the needs of children and adults/parents for decades. Using anger, frustration, kid vs adult worlds and all the associated psychological trappings, it explores and maps out valuable territory for how to be a human being. The malleability of the original story to suit the readers needs is what makes it popular. The crisis Max goes through and his resolution of it is deliberately vague, slightly unearthly and imaginative. We go with Max willingly because we are in control of how scary the adventure will ultimately be.
In the film, the overall scary factor has been heightened so much it overwhelms the characters, confusing what they represent. Max and the Monsters have terrifying interactions that nail viewers to their seats with countless dark, frightening images. The dialog wanders over the emotive landscape but never lands, and strange unexplained connections lead us to nowhere. All of it together makes an uneasy, unresolved story.
Jonze either didn't understand or ignored the subtlety of the books nature. Instead he pounds us with ‘his' idea of what scary is and leaves literally nothing to our imaginations. With this film, we are not in control, Jonze is and his imagination is horrifying. I wouldn't want to be with him on a cold, dark, windy night..
The saddest aspect of the release of the film is that parents will think it's intended to be seen by children, associating it's title with the book That is a fatal error. This is not a childrens film, nor an adult film really. There's no room to breath, imagine and have any fun. It's Jones' private nightmare and I wish I'd not paid to see it!