Note: we've all read the book, so this review isn't REALLY a spoiler, but I will be mentioning things on here pertaining to the plot of the movie. Be forewarned.
A few friends and I caught the 12:25 showing or Where the Wild Things Are at the Arc Light. The audience was right and ready except for a couple of jerks sitting in the back who insisted on being loud during the trailers.
I liked it, a lot. But I didn't love it, which is a shame. I was talking to one of my friends on the car ride home and we both came to agree that because it was one of our most anticipated films of the year, we probably put too high of an expectation on it and when it was done it was sort of like, "Well, It's done. I didn't feel like it was anything too special."
Let me start by giving it the praise it definitely deserved-- the same thing you've probably heard from all critics: the scenery was breathtaking and beautiful. Cinematography and art direction at its finest. There were some shots in there where I couldn't help and turn next to my friend and whisper, Wow! It should definitly get an Oscar nod for those categories. The monster characters were very well done esthetically, well voiced and well acted by the people in the costumes. Some of the voice cast included Paul Dano, James Gandolfini, and Forest Whitaker to name a few.
The character of Max was played VERY well by the young Max Records. He was adorable and maybe a little raw at times. I really enjoyed his portrayal of Max and was definitely the right choice for this part.
The music was pretty cool. All thanks to the twisted genius that is Karen O. She laid it all out on the table, the music was spot on for all the scenes. I thought one of the songs in the end credits was weird, but that's just my specific taste in music.
The story had heart during the beginning and end sequences with his family, especially his mother(Catherine Keener). They had great chemistry together and was touching at some points. When it came to the monsters, however, I came to the conclusion that something lacked in his interactions with them. Something was empty. Now granted the Maurice Sendak book is what, 10 or 12 pages long? So I sorta blame Spike Jonze for the emptiness felt. He was trying to fill in the empty plot lines from the book with something that just didn't mesh well. He should've or could've maybe delved a little more into the lives of the monsters. Yes, I know that the movie was about Max. But without knowing the monster's backgrounds, I felt at times that I wasn't quite sure what some particular monsters were about. I wanted a back story on why they were doing the things they were (I'm trying to be careful to not completely spoil the movie for everyone).
Overall, I give it a B. It was good, so go see it. It's very beautiful, but don't expect to be totally moved.