The movie presents excellent performances by newcomers Chris O'Neil as Noah Wilder (the brother) and Rhiannon Leigh Wynn as Emma Wilder (the sister). This is the first movie for Chris and the second for Rhiannon. She also played Betty Ross (as a child) in the 2003 flick - Hulk.
My granddaughter's name is also Rhiannon, so that automatically put this young actress near the top of my Christmas Card list.
Powerful roles are presented by Timothy Hutton as David Wilder (the father) and Joely Richardson as Jo Wilder (the mother). They convincingly portray parents who become increasingly confused, fearful, and concerned as these peculiar playthings transform their little boy and girl into wunderkinder. Michael Clarke Duncan also makes a strong contribution to the story as Nathanial Broadman, the Dept. of Homeland Security officer who is assigned to determine if the electrical blackout (caused by the children) is an act of terrorism. You may remember him as the condemned prisoner John Coffey in "The Green Mile".
The special effects are impressive, and accent the story without overwhelming the plot. I particularly like the triangle matrix scenes, which are hypnotic.
"The Last Mimzy" is based on a 1943 short story "Mimzy Were the Borogroves" by Lewis Padgett. Lewis Padgett was the joint pseudonym for science fiction authors (and spouses) Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore. "MWTB" is a well known story among SF devotees.
Robert Shaye directed this film - with a concentration on closeups of Noah's and Emma's faces as they are transformed by their discovery. The "time travel" toys are designed so that they can only be used by young children. Noah's and Emma's innocence and lack of a hardened world view allow them to more easily accept the extraordinary properties of these devices. The director creates a family dynamic which pits the "down to earth" viewpoint of the parents against the magical perceptions of the children. This results in a dramatic tension, which makes the story more compelling.
Shaye has a strong background in sci fi movies. He was a producer for a number of "Lord of the Rings" movies, as well as "Frequency" (2000), and a few "Nightmare on Elm Street" flicks.
Primate Perspective: I think that this movie will appeal to Capuchin monkeys. They only come down to the ground to drink, so ethereal stories appeal to them. They also have a long maturation period (4 to 8 years, depending on the sex) so stories that involve children are perennial favorites.
Summary: I give this movie 3 bananas. Chris O'Neill's and Rhiannon Leigh Wynn's vigorous performances are interesting and believable. Also, Robert Shaye's focused directing and the excellent special effects combine with the childrens' portrayals to make "The Last Mimzy" an exciting and enjoyable viewing experience.