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Eric M. Telzrow | Dallas, TX | 12/13/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I'm not sure if some of the other reviewers either a) work for the movie company and are thus biased, or b) just haven't read the book. I have a very different perspective on this movie and I will be happy to tell you why.
Here's the deal: I'm a 3rd grade teacher and we've just finished reading the book as a class. The kids LOVED it. We are heading into the final days before Christmas and my thinking is: this movie would make a perfect "finale" to completing the book! I just finished watching it and I am disappointed to say the least. The movie is EXTREMELY different from the book, in ways that are both baffling and unnecessary. Here's the laundry list:
-Matt starts the movie in Springfield (why not Quincy?), Mass., with his family. We get a lot of time-wasting backstory on how Matt and his father get to Maine. His mother somehow has a prominent role in the movie and the actress that plays her overacts her lines constantly. There are numerous breaks in the movie away from Matt's life in which we see all the reasons his family gets delayed in their travels to Maine. This does not add to the movie.
-Ben, Ben, Ben! In the book he is present for 1 chapter, steals Matt's gun and is never heard from again. In the MOVIE, we see him half a dozen times and, in the end, he leads Matt's family to Matt!!! Talk about a bogus, bizarre, happy Disney ending.
-Matt & Attean's story arc from enemies to brothers is VERY quick and lacks the real development (and events) necessary to justify it. Maybe if we didn't have to keep cutting away to see all the mommy/daddy drama, this movie would do Elizabeth George Speare's book some justice!
-No bear (this is the only difference I can accept: based on the low budget I can see why this would get dropped) and thus no big bear feast.
-No focus on THE SIGN OF THE BEAVER - and this is the BIGGIE - the title phrase is just not addressed in the movie at all. No visit to a beaver dam, talk of beavers, or any acknowledgement that Attean's tribe is of the beaver variety.
-Lots of little things that just degrade the "class" Mrs. Speare had throughout her text. In the end, Matt gives Attean "Robinson Crusoe" instead of his watch. Matt's mother and father have a tasteless zoomed in make-out session. In a sad and pointless scene, Matt's father kills the family horse when it goes lame. Matt's mother starts the movie with her baby born, rather than pregnant, Attean's dog is completely marginalized, etc. etc. etc.!!!
I'll end my rant there. Despite all the negatives I have listed, I will still show the movie to my kids because I want them to exercise their comparison/contrast skills and catch all differences I have. This is a big lesson they can learn: movies are all too often NOTHING like the books they are "based on". I fear they will also find this out with the Despereaux movie coming out over Christmas (we also read that book earlier in the year). Better they learn this lesson early, right?!
It's just such a shame that there are so many differences that really dilute the high quality of Speare's work. I'm giving it 2 stars because the production level is decent, but hopefully anyone else interested in this movie is aware of how much it truly diverges from the book it is named after.
Great story of commitment and perseverance
Cheryl J. Chen | 02/13/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Sign of the Beaver is a story of inspiration for the entire family. My fourth grade son read the book at school and said that it was the best book he had ever read. We watched the movie for family movie night and we loved it. It demonstrates a family's love, perseverance, and committment."
Very good but very sad
Lenka Brown | Kansas City, Kansas | 02/20/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This was a very sad movie, it made me cry several times, but this was a real picture, no sugar coated fairy tale, of a life back in time when new settler's were going to the unknown and dealing with illness and wild west. I have two kids, son and daughter, so I very well could relate to the mom in this story. Heartbreaking, but true."
Sad but very watchable family movie
D. Summerfield | Missoula, Montana | 09/19/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is in the tradition of "Old Yeller" and "The Red Pony" -- it's taken from a popular children's book, and it has been made into a very watchable film. Journeyman actors such as Keith Carradine are very convincing in a story about a family's life and survival in the wilderness.
This makes a good movie for a family movie night, but I would then mix it up with something lighter to make for a nice contrast. Two of my older children, teenaged girls, who were baby-sitting three younger cousins (2 boys and one girl under age ten), and my husband, myself and my dad all watched this together and we were all enthralled. The three girls cried, and I was a little misty myself. So I was glad to put in "Enchanted" afterwards, which we all loved, also. (see my review Enchanted (Widescreen Edition)"