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4.2 out of 5 stars
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty [DVD] [2013]
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERon 18 November 2014
Ben Stiller, in arguably his career-best performance, plays Walter Mitty.
Walter is a single, 42 year old guy, who's unprepossessing, morose, bored with his life, and too scared to pursue the girl of his dreams, his attractive work-colleague Cheryl. He's a member of the dating website e-harmony, with nothing to write in his life experiences box. He works for Life Magazine as a "negative asset manager", which is fitting, because he treats his life like a big negative. However, and more interestingly, he's a daydreamer, a fantasist, who's able to escape his mundane reality into a World where he can be a superhero and win Cheryl's heart.
Walter's profile manager at e-harmony, Todd, is a voice in his ear at certain parts of the movie, a guy with whom Walter can bounce ideas around.
Slowly, but surely, the introverted Walter emerges out of his life-long shell, primarily because of a life-changing sequence of events spawned by a missing photo negative...
A renowned photographer named Sean O'Connell (played by Sean Penn), sends Walter a box of negatives, but one is missing, called "Quintessence of Life". Walter then feels compelled to go on a quest to track down the missing negative, which sees him embark on a thrilling real-life escapade which mirrors his amazing fantasy life. He ends up in locations including Greenland, Iceland and Afghanistan.
The film is a very beautifully shot, visual treat, especially once Walter gets over to Iceland. The later scenes of the Himalayas are stunning to behold. It's both moving and satisfying to watch the character of this shrinking violet blossom, as he gradually stops living vicariously inside his head, and discovers an appetite to experience the wonders of life for himself. The dreams still remain a part of Walter's life, but they stop being the highlight of a humdrum existence, and instead they augment a far more absorbing new reality. The film has a very cool soundtrack, with covers of songs by the likes of Human League and David Bowie. Ben Stiller gives an atypically restrained performance, and you soon find yourself rooting for the evolving Walter to make far more exciting and memorable things happen in his life.
This is a fine life-journey movie, which had me comparing it with the Julie Roberts movie, Eat Pray Love - Eat, Pray, Love [Blu-ray] [2011] [Region Free]. If you enjoyed Eat Pray Love, you'd probably like The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and vice versa. The main difference between the two movies is that Eat Pray Love places a lot less reliance on CGI.
Thank you for taking the time to read this review.
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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty features Ben Stiller as the eponymous Walter Mitty, a negative asset manager at Life magazine. He regularly day-dreams about incredible situations where he is the hero, often at the cost of his attention in the real world meaning people treat him as a fantasist. When it actually comes down to filling out his eHarmony account, he actually hasn't done much in life, a point drastically underlined by his empty 'experiences' box. However, when veteran photographer Sean O'Connell sends him a package saying that one of the negatives contains the 'Quintessence of Life' Walter is keen to see it. However, it is the only one missing from the reel. This propels Walter on a quest to track down notoriously hard-to-find adventure-photographer Sean O'Connell (Sean Penn) to get the negative which will grace the cover of the final issue of Life. The pursuit sees him travel to Greenland, Iceland and Afghanistan amongst other places, during which Walter needs fewer and fewer of his fantasies as his life is providing them for him and he is finally living his life and not merely surviving his existence. Will Walter ever find Sean and the negative?

Walter Mitty is a fantastically well shot-experience, this is evident from the get-go as we see the preliminary credits wrapped seamlessly around the locales (graffiti on the wall of his apartment building gives us the director for example) and this stylisation of text really continues into the film (the text message displayed on the mountain by rock-slides) - this really is a great touch and I thought enhanced what was already a well directed experience - credit to director & lead actor Ben Stiller.

We see an initially morose and unremarkable Walter, a man who is constantly down on his luck, brought out of his shell and thrown into the fray - the Icelandic long-boarding scene really made an impression and it really is due to the picturesque scenery & direction that this film is so beautiful. Detractors have pointed out the lack of fidelity to James Thurber's original but I honestly think that the film is richer for the experience of adding a few locales and embellishments to what was originally a short story. Stiller underplays the comedy on a number of occasions (the Benjamin Button scene specifically) but ultimately, it allows the story to be about the character development and coming out of his shell, underscored by the eHarmony profile representative Todd (Patton Oswalt) who is the voice in Mitty's ear filling out his 'experiences' box as he goes - product placement aside. Adam Scott (A.C.O.D.) makes a great appearance as Walter's new and obnoxious boss. The scene where Walter performs incredible skateboard tricks to Cheryl's son, whilst love-interest Cheryl (Kristen Wiig - Bridesmaids) misses every single one just sums up Walter's luck in life so well.

The soundtrack to Walter Mitty is also really notable, with some classics such as 'Don't you want me' & 'Man-eater' from the 1980's as well as David Bowie's 'Space Oddity' supporting the film in pretty intricate ways that are not just merely a song playing over a scene in the film.

When all this is considered it makes Walter Mitty something more than the sum of it's parts. The story is flat in places, the characters a little too two-dimensional sometimes but the whole feeling of the liberation of a previously-repressed man into something new, set to the backdrop of incredible places in the world playing out to a great soundtrack really is too good to miss. Highly recommended!
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31 of 37 people found the following review helpful
Ben Stiller’s Walter Mitty of 2013 bears a passing resemblance to Danny Kaye’s of 1947, and none at all to James Thurber’s original creation (in which a hen-pecked husband, who inhabits a short story about five pages long, is sent out to buy overshoes and dog biscuits while his wife has her hair done). So those professional critics who complain (and some have) that Stiller doesn’t capture Thurber’s nuanced social commentary are talking through their hats.

Nor, as far as I know, did Thurber leave behind Tolkienesque appendices of the sort that might underpin the two hour rollercoaster on show. It is a story of derring-do, adversity and high-jinks only matched by the development trajectory of this script. In its decade-long passage through the hands of agents, writers, producers, studios and directors, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was also dunked in the arctic ocean, shot at by Afghan warlords and abandoned in Himalayan wastelands, before falling for its final release into the loving arms of Ben Stiller who found himself not only leading the cast but directing the film as well.

Usually films with this sort of midwifery are a disaster. This one’s a peach. I’m inclined to give Stiller much of the credit, though I dare say Steve Conrad’s screenplay didn’t write itself.

On a big screen, it is stunning. This is what Hollywood blockbusters should be like: imaginative, inventive, engaging, beautiful, sweeping, clever, well observed, well acted, and fun. Stiller demonstrates himself to be a subtler comic than many of his peers (Jim Carey was associated with this picture at one point) and an outstanding actor: his transition from biro-pocketed nerd in the basement to swashbuckling global explorer is a joy to behold. For a little guy with sticky-outy ears, he is a surprisingly credible leading man. There is real chemistry between Stiller and Kirsten Wiig.

That said, Walter Mitty is made by, features, and speaks to the people of a certain demographic - mine: mid-40s toilers who spend their private moments aghast that their lives are slipping away unremarked, and their public ones putting on brave faces and avoiding the inevitable conclusion that their toils might have been for naught.

This film counsels not just seizure of the day, but also that it hasn’t been in vain: the beautiful, as Sean Penn remarks, don’t ask for attention.

Ironically, Walter Mitty learns of his own beauty only when he flees his gilded cage. Only once he really has leapt from a helicopter into shark-infested water does he realise his life hasn’t been wasted after all. (Special mention, by the way, to that Icelandic bear of a man Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, here the drunken chopper pilot, whose extraordinary performance in the recent Icelandic feature The Deep has to be seen to be believed).

Those not old enough to have acquired the humility to doubt their place in the firmament may find this all a little bit self-involved, but there will a big constituency among the rest of us for whom this film hits its mark. It is relentlessly big and beautiful: Stuart Dryburgh’s sparkling cinematography deserves as big a screen as you can find to see it on, and those receptive to its message will sit there for two hours with a big, dumb grin on their faces.

Olly Buxton
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Walter Mitty' lives in a world of fantasy always daydreaming of things
he'd like to be doing or saying.
He works for the 'Life' magazine, he develops the pictures for publication,
an instruction to use the 25th negative on a role sent in by 'Sean O'Connell'
however whlist all the negatives appear to be on the photo frame, the 25th
is missing.
The Magazine executives want the picture, 'Walter's' department is under pressure
to produce the photograph that is to front the cover of 'Life'
It turns out that the Magazine is to go on-line and the picture is to front the
magazines last issue.
With his job under threat along with co-worker 'Cheryl's'( who he'd like to
have the courage to ask out,) 'Walter' decides to finally take control of his
life and decides to go in search of the elusive 'Sean O'Connell'
His journey takes him to Greenland onto Iceland in the search, he seems
to be one-step behind, when returning home, another clue surfaces.
This time he sets off for the 'Himalayas' the adventures he's embarking on
is helping 'Walter' find himself, no longer needing fantasy's to enrich his
life.
'Ben Stiller' both directs and stars in this truly enjoyable movie, the film often
pretty amusing, a bit of feel-good does nobody any harm.
Among the actors involved -'Kirsten Wiig' (Cheryl Melhoff) 'Sean Penn' (Sean
O'Connell) and 'Shirley Maclaine'' as 'Walter's mum.
Good Picture and Sound Quality throughout.
Special Features -
* Deleted, Extended and Alternative Scenes.
* 7 behind the scenes featurette.
* Sights and Sounds of the production.
* Pre-viz (animated Story-book) Ted Walter' fight - early version.
* Gallery- Reference Photography.
* Music Video, 'Stay Alive' by 'Josh Gonzo'lez'
Why
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Based on a 1939 James Thurber (short) short story about a man who achieves periodic sanctuary from the hectoring of his wife by zoning out to his fantasy world, this remake of the Danny Kaye original is just about worth its viewing time. Ben Stiller plays Walter like he’s impersonating Gaylord Focker only this time his nemesis isn’t future father-in-law, Robert De Niro, but corporate asset stripper, Ted Hendricks, played with pantomime villain relish by Adam Scott.

Of course, we couldn’t have a down-trodden ‘hero’ without the seemingly out-of-reach girl he worships from afar: enter, Cheryl Melhoff, engagingly played by Jennifer Aniston lookalike, Kristen Wiig. Thus, the plot’s more or less the same as the earlier version but the modern movie makes full use of modern technology in the form of cgi to render Walter’s fantasies more or less convincingly (even though it’s probably unlikely he’d encounter a Great White off the coast of Iceland!)

So, it’s ok; but no more than that.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 29 January 2014
Never have I stood up and clapped at the end of a film in a Cinema , I didn't care that it was embarrassing this film was beautiful fantastic acting, wonderful cinematography, A great mix of emotions throughout the film and not to mention the gorgeous soundtrack. This film you will either love or feel a bit odd about there's nothing to dislike or hate! the film is basically a modern Forrest Gump like tale and it's a fantastic one at that.
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The film starts out catching the essence of Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller). Indeed watching Ben Stiller lament over pushing a "wink" button as if it would be a lifetime commitment, was great. Walter works for "Life" magazine and is on his way out the door with the final issue. He was sent a picture, that he cannot locate which embarks him on a very long un-Mitty like journey. While we all want our protagonist to succeed, the film became inane, lacking humor and purpose other than to circle around to the formulaic ending.

I had higher hopes for the film which under utilized Kristen Wiig so Ben Stiller's face can remain on the screen for just about the whole film. Having said that, it is a feel good film the whole family can watch and inspire everyone to jump out of helicopters into freezing cold shark infested waters so they can have something to put on their E-Harmony page.

It is not a bad film, just one I wish was scripted better.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 6 January 2014
I'm not sure what I was expecting before seeing this at the cinema. I hadn't read reviews and I'm not exactly Ben Stiller's biggest fan. But I absolutely loved it. It's a nice story about a man trying to make something of his life, and it's just really charming. Some of the scenes are superb and the Icelandic and Himalayan locations are beautiful. Ben Stiller is at his best here, as director, writer and actor; it's great.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A new film version of the James Thurber short story about a man who escapes his humdrum daily life by getting into exciting day dreams.

Like all films of short stories, it bears no resemblance to the original other than taking the main idea and going it's own way with it.

Thus it bears no resemblance to the original film version starring Danny Kaye other than having the same basic plot as that did also.

Ben Stiller stars and directs.

Walter works for life magazine, has a crush on a co-worker [Kristen Wiig] and can't complete an online dating profile properly because he doesn't have much - if anything - he can put on it.

Anything that he's done in reality and not his imagination, that is.

When the magazine faces closure, and the last ever issue is due, a famous photographer [Sean Penn] sends in a photo for the cover. But the negative isn't where it should be. And the quest for it sends Walter on a real life adventure more spectacular than anything he could ever have imagined...

This is a project that was in development for a long time, and went through many potential leads and directors. All of the previous choices, you might expect, would have turned it into an out and out comedy. But Ben Stiller manages something different and far more subtle.

There's occasional character comedy here, all of which arises as it should from character interaction rather than the need for a joke every few minutes. The film starts slowly, but with a purpose. Just to ease you into the reality of Walter's ordinary life, before pushing him off on adventure.

But what catches the eye is the direction. The film jumps from fantasy to reality so seamlessly, with visuals that mesh together perfectly. And the music adds to all this. It's a famous and very subtle score that does enhance the mood.

The aim of which is to inspire and make you relate to the main character. Which it succeeds in doing, because when he finally makes one very brave leap, the moment is cinema magic.

With stunning location photography throughout, this is a treat for the eye. And the writing is clever, managing to let the plot develop nicely with some surprises along the way.

Sometimes in life you get inspired. Something makes you want to break the routine and do something new and different. This film is one of those that will make you feel like that. Not least because it's subtle about the points it's trying to make, so you get them completely.

Superbly directed, very well acted, and an inspiring experience. Watch it. It might just make you change your life. If you dare.

The dvd box says that it only has language and subtitle options in English, but the set up menu on the disc actually gives the following:

Languages: English. Russian. Ukrainian.

Subtitles: English Danish Finnish Norwegian Russian Swedish Estonia Latvian Lithuanian Ukrainian.

The disc doesn't start with any trailers, and goes straight to the main menu when loaded.

Extras are:

The look of life.
The music of Walter Mitty.

Two featurettes, both running no more than five minutes [approx.]. about the look of the life magazine set and the score of the film. Both are very interesting but a bit too short to have as much impact as they could.

However Skateboarding through Iceland, a two minute long compilation of film of a key sequence being filmed, is a quite interesting look at how it was done.

There's also a short section of reference photographs that the film used for some of the key scenes, which can be navigated through via the menu keys on the dvd remote.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Often when an old film or idea gets a new revamp it can be less than satisfactory. Sometimes it can be a complete disaster.
Not a problem though here on this version of the Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Ben Stiller directs and stars in a fairly good new re working of the idea.
I did not find this film as good as I expected but it is enjoyable. I probably just expected too much after the media hype when the film came out. But then again it is not as bad as some have made out,
The film is very little like the original Danny Kaye film of the same name other than that the basic idea is the same.
Back on the original film with Danny Kaye I feel the character Walter Mitty has a warm and likeable personality and Danny Kaye gave us a character that I could warm to and feel instant connection to.
Here the Ben Stiller version is not quite so loveable.
But that is only a small gripe. In both films the character Walter Mitty escapes the mundane moments of life within his imagination often offering up more bizarre and interesting versions than reality. He gradually learns that if we try we can find or make our own exciting moments.
Now in this version the daydreams are bigger and the clever CGI special effects offer a grander spectacle and way out version of alternative reality escape. And the way that the character develops and deals with life is much different to the original Danny Kaye version.
So although I prefer the performance in the Danny Kaye characterisation I am pleased to say that this film does stand up in its own right as a film separate from the original. That is the best way to look at this and it will not matter anyway to anyone who has not seen the original. The characterisation does stand up here, its just that I have seen both versions now and prefer the Danny Kaye characterisation. But that is not to say that this version is bad. Far from it is just different. The film has almost an originality of its own. It is worth seeing at least once and is of high standard.
I did feel the film was a little over long but I enjoyed its light hearted side and its thought provoking sense of achievement that the character experiences.
There are some excellent scenes with great photography as the character travels the world. And there are some excellent moments and thrills in the film. It has a bigger budget film feel about it that is superior to the original and there are some good comedy moments and romance to seal a reasonably good movie.
As I am visually impaired and there was no audio description on this product I cannot give it maximum stars but I am sure it will be good for other sighted people.
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