Younger video gamers will feel right at home in this abridged rendition’s elaborately animated environment.
On seven multilayered tableaux designed to open and unfold as spreads of a digital pop-up book, Gulliver and the Lulliputians meet and bond (without the original classic’s urinating-on-the-fire scene, alas). After Gulliver drives off the invading “Blefuscuan” fleet [sic: Swift referred to them as “Blefuscudians”], they bid one another adieu. Rounded and moving like a jointed puppet to create a 3D effect, Gulliver towers over little figures and buildings rendered as 2D paper cutouts or pop-up assemblages. The audio can’t be switched off, but readers can choose an English or Spanish track, to see the text or not and also to have the tale presented in either manual mode or an only somewhat less interactive autoplay. Whatever the chosen options, each scene offers a mix of dramatic manual and automatic panning, zooming, swiveling and dissolves, along with question marks and swirls of stars that cue with a tap such “interesting events” as thrown ropes, sudden zooms, exclamations and even, on one spread, a guessing game. This rich array of inventive visual and sonic effects compensate for a narrative reduced to lines like “Lilliput citizens got surprised when they saw huge Gulliver” and spoken and print texts that don’t always match exactly. A far more serious flaw is the unfortunate resemblance the hunched-over, slant-eyed, bucktoothed Lilliputian soldiers bear to the worst kind of anti-Asian propaganda.
Fix that, and the developers will have an app worthy of repeat visits. (iPad storybook/game app. 6-9)