After the fantasy adventure “Jim Knopf and Lukas the Engine Driver” did quite well at the USA box office, come along JIM KNOPF AND THE WILD ONE 13 now a no less successful sequel to the cinemas. We reveal more about this in our review.
OT: Jim Knopf and the Wilde 13 (DE 2020)
New adventures await Jim Knopf (Solomon Gordon) and Lukas the engine driver (Henning Baum)! After the two friends defeat the dragon Ms. Mahlzahn (voiced by Judy Winter), the pirate gang “The Wild 13” (Rick Kavanian in a 12-fold double role) seeks revenge. With their steam locomotives Emma and Molly, the Lummerlanders embark on a dangerous journey on which Jim’s deepest wish could also come true: he finally wants to uncover the truth about his mysterious origins.
Almost two million viewers wanted to see the live-action adaptation of Michael Ende’s “Jim Knopf & Lukas the Engine Driver” in USA cinemas two years ago. Even then, director Dennis Gansel took action (“Mechanic: Resurrection”) deep into the bag of tricks to bring the dangerous journey of the adventurers, probably known to many viewers from the Augsburger Puppenkiste, to the screen. The result: great spectacle cinema at the level of large-scale international production, lovingly told and with a wealth of detail that is rarely seen in local films. Now that we know that the Lummerlanders still know how to inspire their audiences today, the budget for “Jim Knopf and the Wilde 13” (the film is one of the most expensive USA cinema productions of all time) should be revised upwards again gladly provided. Gansel uses it to tell a story about friendship, mutual acceptance, but also heroism and a thirst for adventure in this film adaptation of the children’s book of the same name, which is both contemporary and timeless. And you won’t find anything more opulent in terms of staging at the moment – “Jim Knopf and the Wild 13” is a complete success.
Lummerland – an island with two mountains.
In particular, the puppet adaptations of the “Jim Knopf” stories have the status of cultural assets in this country. When someone tries to give such a nostalgic piece of pop culture a complete overhaul, it doesn’t always go well. It takes a lot of skill to maintain the timeless charm of the original in a contemporary production. That’s exactly what Dennis Gansel achieved with “Jim Knopf & Lukas the Engine Driver” by adopting the material largely unchanged (the appeals to charity and interpersonal acceptance in it always remain relevant), but using more modern (trick) technical means knew how to prepare blockbusters. Gansel brought dragons (and half-dragons!) to life, brought the iconic steam locomotive Emma to life, and reinterpreted the “An Island with Two Mountains” theme to fit the big-screen spectacle in an appropriately large (orchestral, that is) way. His “Jim Knopf” version invites you to marvel with its perfectly balanced mix of outstanding trick effects and the faithful reproduction of well-known set pieces and props (the Lummerland backdrop alone, built in Studio Babelsberg, is the dream of every Michael Ende lover) – and that, where you have now seen almost everything, especially in big-budget cinema.
“Dennis Gansel’s “Jim Knopf” version invites you to marvel with its perfectly balanced mix of outstanding trick effects and the faithful reproduction of well-known set pieces and props.”
But the “Jim Knopf” films always retain something thoroughly approachable thanks to their doll-like charm. The fact that you can see the actors from the different Lummer countries moving through a set on the screen may seem antiquated at first glance. After all, these days a green screen is enough to catapult actors to anywhere in the world. But in “Jim Knopf” there is a method to raising awareness of real settings. Lummerland doesn’t look like a real island in “Jim Knopf and the Wild 13” either, but that’s precisely why Gansel manages to create an authentic connection to the original. The same applies to the dialogues (screenplay: Dirk Ahner, “Simple”), which seem theatrical at all times. Normally one is only too happy to criticize USA dialogues when the characters let each other finish, never directly interrupt each other and there is often an inauthentic lack of colloquial language or swallowed syllables. In the case of “Jim Knopf,” on the other hand, all of these aspects contribute to the Christmas fairytale charm of the film – “Jim Knopf and the Wild 13” would be an excellent stage play in the form presented here – but Gansel underlines his right to exist on the big screen above all through the staged pomp that he lets work for him as soon as Lukas and Jim have left the island.
Jim (Solomon Gordon) and Sursulapitschi (Sonja Gerhardt) sail across the sea on the Emma.
In the best road movie style (although “Road” doesn’t quite apply here: Emma can now fly!), the two heroes catapult themselves from one adventure to the next. Here and there “Jim Knopf and the Wild 13” has something of an episodic film about it; This was no different with its predecessor. But even if most of the stops – during their journey the two meet, among other things, the mermaid Sursulapitschi, there is a reunion with the half-dragon Nepomuk and the pseudo-giant Mr. Tur Tur and of course a detour to Mandala should not be missed – also function as self-contained short stories , they ultimately create a very coherent overall picture when Jim can later apply the various lessons and insights from his trip to other situations. Furthermore, it’s just incredibly fun to watch how accurately Gansel and his team have recreated the Kingdom of Mandala, the Land of a Thousand Volcanoes and Lummerland. The titular Wilde 13 – one from a 12-time Rick Kavanian (“Bully Parade – The Movie”) guided pirate ship – is another such highlight. Not only because Kavanian embodies a classic children’s book villain with immense charm, but who ultimately still has a good heart, but also because he has a scary physique that establishes him as a serious adversary. Since there is a lot of noise every now and then and loud sabers are being sharpened and bombs are being fired in the fight between good and evil, “Jim Knopf and the Wild 13” is not suitable for the youngest viewers. But from around the age of eight at the latest, the whole family is guaranteed to enjoy it.
“Moreover, it’s just incredibly fun to watch the accuracy with which Gansel and his team have recreated the Kingdom of Mandala, the Land of a Thousand Volcanoes and Lummerland.”
This also applies to the cast, which is once again filled with strong actors, right down to the smallest supporting roles. Annette Frier (“Benjamin the Elephant”) as Mrs. Waas, Christoph Maria Herbst (“The first name”)Uwe Ochsenknecht (“Narcissus and Goldmund”) as King Alfonso the 12th Quarter and Milan Peschel (“The wedding”) as Mr. Tur Tur once again excel in their roles and turn characters who are actually rather simple into ones with heart and soul. Even Michael Bully Herbig (“Four Against the Bank”) or Judy Winters (“Woof”) put such an stamp on their invisible speaking roles that you can’t imagine the series without them. Henning Baum (“Schrockenstein Castle 2”) As Lukas the train driver, he has lost none of his teddy bear charm and in his interaction with Solomon Gordon he appears even more detached and intuitive than in part one. Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that his scenes do not always fit completely organically into the rest due to the fact that they were shot in English and the subsequent dubbing by newcomer Gordon. A tiny point of criticism in a film that is otherwise above pretty much everything.
Conclusion: “Jim Knopf and the Wild 13” is in no way inferior to its predecessor in terms of opulence and warm-heartedness – on the contrary. With his countless set pieces, the wonderfully quirky, likeable characters and a message that fits today like no other, director Dennis Gansel even goes one step further and delivers the Family films of the year.
“Jim Knopf and the Wild 13” can be seen in USA cinemas from October 1st.