Out of all the many adaptations of Oscar Wilde‘s humorous supernatural short story The Canterville Ghost that I’ve seen, I still can’t decide which version is best. Upon visiting the animated take, there are bits to really like. Here, Virginia (Emily Carey) is a very confident young lady whom I’ve seen before. That’s because I’ve seen it in The Amazing Maurice. Robert Chandler produced that film along with this latest, and I’m sure Malicia and Virginia come from the same mould. Both aren’t afraid of no ghosts.
In the credits, Kim Burdon is also the co-director, and it’s tough to say how much of a contribution he made. As a newcomer to the field, maybe he handled the additions to the story, namely the running gag with Algernean Van Finchley (Merinda Hart) a wannabe Ghostbuster, complete with a Victorian age proton pack and trap. Thankfully, that isn’t overplayed and I’m fairly sure she doesn’t exist in Wilde’s tale. I’ll have to reread it to verify. If I’m wrong, I’m going to behave like Sir Simon de Canterville (Stephen Fry), bemoaning this add.
Despite his attempts to frighten the Otis family away, they aren’t moving. Instead, they treat his presence as a pathetic reminder of the past. Hiram (David Harewood) is the patriarch and also an inventor of sorts. Like the book, he’s out to bring the future to Britain. He believes he has to lead the charge, because electricity is the coming thing. Everything he does is in the name of progress, and while Sir Simon represents the old guard, he represents the modern world.
Thankfully, a lot of key concepts from Wilde’s story are preserved in this film and Hugh Laurie delivers the best moments as the wise but Grim Reaper. Although the events are played out differently, I particularly liked how fulfilling the prophecy was handled. Anyone who knows this story will find this take gave an extra oomph. To understand what love is can be difficult, and as for what Virginia must learn without compromising her own ideals is heartwarming.
Also, I suspect the casting choices confirm what I suspected all along. This producer and sometimes director prefers to work with specific talents to make his works more familiar. It’s a sweet touch, and hopefully he isn’t limiting himself. Otherwise, just where his film company, Space Age Films, can go next might hit a road bump if they’re to succeed in the animation world.
4 Stars out of 5