Friday, June 11, 2010


Quickie review on "Going Postal" (the new British TV movie):
It's pretty good!

Slightly longer review:

The movie is extremely faithful to the book.  It's been a while since I read (or, more accurately, listened to the book on tape of) Going Postal, but it has really struck in my mind.  That's partly because it was the first Discworld book I encountered (either that or Thud!, I forget which), but also because it's a really, really good story.

I won't recap everything that I like about GP here, and just assume that you've already read the book.  Therefore, while everything is wrapped as a


the spoilers are the same as in the book.  Which I suppose could be considered a spoiler in itself.  Sorry about that.

Anyways: The movie features Moist von Lipwig, Pratchett's most recent Discworld protagonist and probably my second-favorite, just behind Vimes.  The character lineup is the same as in the book (to the best of my recollection), and doesn't drastically alter any personalities.  It also maintains the themes of the book, a really clever indictment of monopolies, entrenched markets, and anti-competitive practices. 

It is a made-for-TV movie, so it doesn't wow as much as a Hollywood (or Holy Wood) spectacle might, but the effects are still quite good; Moist's disquieting nightmares in the post office are particularly effective.  The weakest aspect of the special effects is Moist's golem, who belongs to the same school of "guy putting on random unconvincing costume" that has previously graced time-honored British productions like the original Hitchhiker's Guide show, Doctor Who, and Red Dwarf.  He looks appropriately menacing in the dark, but fully ridiculous when walking the streets in daylight.

Most of the actors are quite good, though.  Moist comes across as a bit more... vulnerable, I guess, than I had imagined him, but it's still a good portrayal.  Vetinari is great; I still prefer Jeremy Irons' excellent portrayal in The Colour of Magic, but his replacement does a good job.  Vetinari is such a great character that, as long as you convey what Pratchett has written, it's going to be good.  The postmen also came across as I had imagined from the story.

If I have a complaint about the movie, it's that it tends to be melodramatic.  The most obvious offense is its portrayal of the villains from the Clacks.  They really chew the scenery with some of the hammiest, over-the-top acting I've seen recently.  It's one of those things that goes so far overboard that I have to laugh and assume that they meant it to be bad.


So, where does this fit in the pantheon?  As far as I know we now have three screen adaptations: Hogfather, The Colour of Magic, and Going Postal.  All have had their ups and downs.  I'd summarize them as follows.

Best original story: Going Postal
Best main actor: Hogfather (Susan was great)
Best Vetinari: The Colour of Magic
Best Visual Effects: The Colour of Magic
Best Villain: Hogfather
Best Overall: Going Postal

Anyways, that's where I see it.  It'll be interesting to see if they keep putting them out.  I'd kind of like to see a Vimes story on the screen, but at the same time, I'm pretty worried about it; the guards have such excellent characters, and it would be really hard to do them justice.  (Nobby in the Hogfather was just embarrassing; Angua in Going Postal was decent, but didn't get much screen time.)  Still, if anything they seem to be improving, so hopefully there will be more quality stuff to come; plus, it's been really encouraging to see how they've been happy to bring Pratchett's stories to life without feeling the need to muck around with it.

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