This film has been widely condemned and ridiculed, somewhat unfairly in my opinion. Theres a great many worse films around, although thats no excuse in itself. But Night has set the bar high with his previous work so that this film pales compared with his previous work. Thats not to say its a bad film, just dissappointing considering the talent of who made it.
The story isn't particularly well-structured and lots of things aren't explained properly and certain themes aren't developed. The story itself is something of a cross between a childrens tale and a redemption story, and trying to be both it doesn't quite do justice to either. To appreciate it you need to suspend your disbelief, and even after that you need to take a leap into believing the entire premise in the first place. However it has been touted as a children's bedtime story and in a touching way its reminiscent of the kind of tales you hear as a child.
All that aside, its a well made film, well-acted and has a wonderful score from James Newton Howard which really adds an emotive feel to the tale. Some of the characters are interesting, some not and some aren't developed enough for us to know (or even care), Paul Giamatti's 'Cleveland' is a nice sympathetic but tragic character and Bryce Dallas Howard is a charming, enigmatic and always pasty sea-nymph. Night casts himself in a major role this time rather than just his usual brief cameos, he does ok but the role he plays may leave you with questions of the man's ego.
Not a film for the constantly cynical amongst us, it is in fact a sentimental tale with a postively redeeming story to it. A good family film perhaps?