6 June 2005 | GusF
Ted Danson was a great choice to play Gulliver. Even though his background was mostly comedy, he shows here that he can do drama just as well or perhaps even better (though there is a lot of humour in this). Hard to turn a blind eye to his American accent especially since his character is supposed to be English but that's just a minor thing.
All the villains are equally well cast: James Fox, Edward Fox, Peter O'Toole, Warwick Davis, John Standing, etc. Despite the fact that most of them are either tiny people or giants, they are 100% believable in everything they do and their motivations are very clear e.g. the Lilliputians' unremitting suspicion of Gulliver, Grildrig the (giant) dwarf's hatred of him for usurping his position as court jester, Dr. Bates' attempt to have Gulliver proved insane so he can marry Mary.
Mary Steenburgen is great as Mary Gulliver (another 17th Century English character with an American accent but never mind). She is a deeply tormented character because she has been waiting nine years for her husband to return home and when he finally does, he is talking about tiny people, giants, a flying island and talking horses! Mary, despite the strong fantasy element in the story, is a very believable character.
The special effects are breathtaking especially when you consider that it was filmed on a television scale at a time when CGI was in its infancy. It looks very realistic when we see a 6 foot tall man walking through a city filled with people who are 6 inches tall.
The cameos are great as well: Omar Sharif, Richard Wilson, Sir John Gielgud, Kristin Scott Thomas, Ned Beatty. All great actors who create a strong supporting cast that complement Danson's superb acting ability.
The Houynhnhms and the Yahoos are probably the most effective element of the story on the satire side of things: a society of talking horses who do not possess any of the vices that humans have while the Yahoos are primitive, disgusting humans who mate forcefully and appoint their leader depending on how disgusting he is. Gulliver and Mistress' study of them is also very well done and displays the differences and similarities between humans and Yahoos.
The best version of "Gulliver's Travels" by far and one of the best mini-series ever.