Movie Review – Storm Boy (2019)

TL;DR – A movie that has good moments, but is hamstrung by its narrative framing device that was unhelpful and unneeded     

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is a post-credit scene but not one you need to stay back for

Storm Boy. Image Credit: Sony.


When you grow up there are these touchstone moments as you discover the world of cinema. For me, and I would say a lot of people in my generation that grew up in Australia, the original Storm Boy movie was one of those moments (well until you have to write an essay on it for English, which was the worst. Well, it has been many years since I have watched the original, so I was really interested when I heard they were remaking it, well that was until I saw it.

So to set the scene, we do not start with the story of the pelicans, but instead, we begin many years later when Storm Boy has grown into being an old man (Geoffrey Rush). He is back in Australia because his son-in-law (Erik Thomson) is holding a vote to allow mining on his company’s pastoral land. The old man’s granddaughter Madeline (Morgana Davies) is very much opposed to it, but he is all just a bit ambivalent to it because it is not really his business anymore. But before the vote could be cast a storm damages the building and we get a day’s pause. It is during this time that he decided to tell his granddaughter the story of when he was a child (Finn Little) and he and Fingerbone Bill (Trevor Jamieson) found some baby pelicans, orphaned after hunters killed their parents.

Storm Boy. Image Credit: Sony.
Finn Little brings the emotional core to the film. Image Credit: Sony.

While there were a lot of issues with this adaptation, there were also a lot of things that I do want to point out., Firstly, with the pelicans, there was a good blend of animatronics, visual effects, and real-life pelicans. It is so good that bar a couple of scenes towards the end you have to really look to see the seams. This is supported with some beautiful cinematography that is equal parts nice framing, but also the boon of shooting the film out on location in some of the most beautiful coastlines in Australia.

To add to all this, the three main leads all work really well together to sell what could be a very silly premise. Jai Courtney is made for these kind of roles, he really sells that man with a tough exterior, but on the inside, he is holding a deep pain. Trevor Jamieson gives this film the substance in needs, tying it all together. I would not envy anybody that has to follow in the shoes of David Gulpilil and he does so any more. Now, of course, there is the titular Storm Boy played by Finn Little, which is not an easy role to play. Finn gives a really nuanced performance, which would have been a hard job for any actor, but especially difficult for someone so young. However, he pulls it off which is important because he is the emotional core of the film.              

Storm Boy. Image Credit: Sony.
When the story is focusing on the pelicans it works really well. Image Credit: Sony.

While there are these moments that work, unfortunately, the film is held back by a shoehorned framing device that really detracts from the film’s emotional weight. As I mentioned, we don’t start with the story of the pelicans, but in the future. This means that throughout the film we have to stop the flow of the narrative and get yanked back into the future. Now this framing device is not in the 1976 film or the original novel and unfortunately, it adds nothing to the narrative, in fact, it actively detracts from it. The core story is about a boy, his father, his guide, and the pelicans they help, but it takes almost 20 minutes of run time before we even get to that.
Every time the film stops to jump back to the future the narrative and pacing lurches to a halt. If there was some emotional pay off at the end it could have worked, but not only is there none of that, it instead it detracts from what emotional weight is already in the story, lessening the impact of the ending, which is a real travesty. All of this is not helped by the granddaughter being written as if they have never met a teenager before, and Geoffrey Rush spends his entire runtime looking as if the film is beneath someone of his calibre.

Storm Boy. Image Credit: Sony.
There is a really good blend of animatronic, visual effect, and real life pelicans. Image Credit: Sony.

In the end, do we recommend Storm Boy? Maybe, sort of, no-ish. Look if you go see it, it is not like you will be wasting your time, and there are good moments. However, it lacks any emotional weight and you will become frustrated every time it jumps back to the future. Honestly, I would be interested to see a version of this film with the framing device edited out. However, until then I would recommend searching out the 1976 film instead, which is a real shame.      

By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.

Have you watched Storm Boy?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.

Credits –
All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Storm Boy
Directed by
–     Shawn Seet
Screenplay by – Justin Monjo
Based onStorm Boy by Colin Thiele
Music by – Alan John
Cinematography by – Bruce Young
Edited by – Denise Haratzis
– Jai Courtney, Finn Little, Trevor Jamieson, Geoffrey Rush, Erik Thomson, Morgan Davies & David Gulpilil      
Rating – Australia: PG; Canada: na; Germany: na; New Zealand: PG; United Kingdom: na; United States: PG


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