Jonathan Swift's well-known satire Gulliver's Travels is a classic of English literature. If you didn't read the book in high school you have surely heard something about the story. Over the years there have been many adaptations brought to both the big and small screen; each of which has been loosely based on Swift's tale, and this version is no exception. To say it is an adaptation would be a huge understatement as I feel it is more of an uninspired reinvention than anything else; one that does the original story no justice.
Jack Black stars as leading man Lemuel Gulliver. In this version of the classic story, Gulliver is a travel writer who takes an assignment in Bermuda but ends up in Lilliput, a tiny island inhabited by tiny people. Black, who has a knack for making people laugh, is basically doing what he does best, juvenile humor. But unlike his previous films, Black misses the mark badly here. (Think Year One not Tropic Thunder). Though full of energy and enthusiasm, his performance felt lazy.
His counterpart, the enchanting Emily Blunt, did an acceptable job as Princess Mary. Yet even her performance was nothing to write home about. (Note that Blunt turned down a role in Captain America to work on this film, a decision I am sure she now regrets.) Jason Segal would have been the best of the group, if only I wasn't distracted by his terrible accent. In all honesty, it is hard to judge the actors on their performances because it appears that director Rob Letterman is most concerned with amateurish special effects. This was a sad reveal as the film boasted some incredible talent, all of which failed to deliver
Since I mentioned the special effects, I should also let you know how un-special they were. While I understand a film covering a story such as this is bound to include at least some degree of CGI, I also believe it is the crew's job to make it look seamless enough that viewers don’t notice. The green screen work was quite obvious throughout most of the film, and I found it difficult to fully concentrate on the story (if you want to consider the plotline of this film a ‘story’). When people go to the theater to watch a movie, they want to escape reality, not be distracted by bad effects and half-assed performances.
All in all, I wouldn't call this film a complete disaster, but was it close. I did mildly chuckle at a few things, but those were few and far between. If I had the opportunity to watch this film or almost any other currently showing in theaters, I would likely choose the other. If you insist on watching an adaptation of Swift's work, stick to the 1996 NBC mini-series starring Ted Danson. At least then you would be watching something good.