Charles Merritt believes this family film was generally uninspiring though does give you much to discuss
The Film: Ruby Gillman: Teenage Kraken
Watch if you liked: Trolls, Turning Red
Running time: 121 minutes
Genre: Family, Fantasy, Coming-of-Age
Overview: Ruby Gillman is a kraken* in hiding, trying desperately to fit in with the other teenagers at her school but, when she’s forced to save her crush from drowning, she discovers she is the heir to the kraken throne.
I never like writing a bad review. I realise that so many people work so hard to produce a movie that it feels mean to sit here and write about their final product in such a dismissive way. This wasn’t a dreadful movie (nor was it a good one…) but it’ll do as a summer outing if you need to get the kids out of the house for a bit.
What you liked:
The soundtrack was pretty good. ‘This Moment’ by Mimi Webb, particularly stood out as a toe-tapping, feel-good song.
The voice work was good, even if the script didn’t always allow it to be.
What you didn’t like:
DreamWorks started their animation success with the brilliant Shrek films that beautifully parodied the Disney empire and produced slick, well-observed humour as a result.
I feel as though DreamWorks could have done more with this Little Mermaid knock-off (especially with the live-action remake releasing only a few weeks ago). Instead, it feels as though they are trying to copy PIXAR’s success, only failing to match the genius and inventiveness of those films (well, maybe not the more recent PIXAR movies but I have high hopes for Elemental).
The family dynamic felt unoriginal and uninspiring - especially when compared to the brilliant family portrayal of the Morales’ in Sony Animations Spider-Verse movies.
There weren’t any laugh out loud moments for me, nor were there any jokes that made me think of laughing…
I was surprised to learn that this movie was only an hour and half long as it felt much longer… I definitely got restless but a child might have found this more entertaining than myself.
It was a generic kids movie, which is disappointing as DreamWork’s previous film - Puss in Boots: The Last Wish - was great for all-ages.
Thoughts for parents:
When you’ve watched a lot of films, you notice a trope. You sit and yell at the screen ‘why didn’t you just tell them the truth sooner?!’.
To be fair, the movie does address this and Ruby’s disdain at her mum for not telling her that she was a giant kraken princess is what drives her to become rebellious and to discover her kraken powers.
Ruby’s mum says that she doesn’t lie but leaves out ‘tiny omissions’ which ultimately come back to haunt her. Telling the truth is something that people of all ages struggle with. Whether it’s because we’re scared of what will happen if people know the truth or if we’re trying to protect people’s feelings, it can be tempting to tell a white lie every so often.
What is hidden in darkness can only be healed when brought into the light - how do we create safe spaces for children and young people to feel as though they can be open and honest with us?
Ruby doesn’t feel as though she fits in at school and feels as though she has to hide her kraken identity as a secret. I wonder how children and young people feel about their Christian identity at school?
I remember struggling with it, feeling a weight on my shoulders when invited to parties when I knew there’d be alcohol and other activities. Ruby’s rebellion happens because her mum won’t let her to go to prom. I wonder whether the boundaries we put on our children and young people can actually be unhealthy and maybe an encouragement to be the light in those places is a better thing to do? I went to parties and refused alcohol (for a variety of reasons) and whilst, at first, people made fun of me for it, after a few years people began to really respect me for it and opened up amazing conversations in which I could share my faith.
*kraken is a legendary sea monster of enormous size said to appear off the coasts of Norway