• Studio: Gkids
  • Release Date: Mar 5, 2010
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 42 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 42
  2. Negative: 3 out of 42

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  1. Nov 24, 2014
    THE SECRET OF KELLS is an unforgettable visual experience. The art flat-out blew my mind. It takes inspiration from medieval illuminated manuscripts, so the movie plays out like a series of pictures with the characters moving in very straight, two dimensional ways through them. The plays with perspective and movement are endlessly creative. Furthermore, just like the titular Book of Kells, each frame is meticulously detailed and drenched in rich colors - greens, golds and browns for the beautiful forest, and harsh reds and blacks for the scary viking invaders. It's simply GORGEOUS. My description is by no means doing this film justice - you must see it for yourself!

    Unfortunately, the story doesn't match the visuals - it's a collection of great ideas, story arcs, and scenes jumbled together with not enough development. Brendan's coming-of-age arc is thinly developed and never moves beyond the expected. The Christianity vs. Paganism conflict is falls flat because both sides aren't developed beyond Christianity = good, Paganism = evil monster worship (and we never see what makes them so. It's just taken for granted.) The vikings attacking Kells is a scary threat, but the storyline comes off as silly. (The Abbot wants to make the illuminators build the walls to keep the vikings out, and the illuminatiors want to finish the book of Kells. However, when the vikings nonetheless break into Kells, the Abbot realizes that his plan was wrong all along and that the illuminators were right in wanting to work on the book instead (??? This stuck me as bizarre because, well, if they had worked on the illumination instead, the monestary would still have been destroyed!)) Furthermore, these storylines are not tied well together, preventing the movie from gliding along and "casting a spell" on the audience.

    Now, the movie is still very enjoyable. The storylines are still engaging, the characters are charming and likeable (especially Aisling!), and the setting of a 800's monastery is compelling, and unusual for a children's movie. The movie shines in certain scenes - the forest is full of organic, awesome beauty; Brenden's battle with Crom Cruach takes place in a dark, ethereal space with many strange glowing lights; and the scene where Aisling sings to Pangur Ban is filled with so much beauty, mystery, and visual poetry, it haunted me for days afterwards. I get chills every time I think about it!

    So - THE SECRET OF KELLS is a little treat. The story may not be up to close scrutiny, but if you let yourself be swept up in its visuals and setting, you are in for a beautiful experience!
  2. Sep 1, 2014
    Deep, beautiful, colourful, clever, and an intresting fictional take on actual historic events.
    Nice animations, lovable characters and music. Ending could've been more but that would've caused the film to be far too long...
  3. Jul 26, 2014
    Master-peace, from a visual perspective. The art in "The Secret of Kells" is some of the most sensational finest animation i have ever seen from any-over 2d animated film, truly breath taking. The secret of kells only real flaws are more to do with simplistic characters and an unsatisfying ending to a truly spectacular film.

  4. Zal
    Dec 20, 2012
    In terms of animation style and visuals, this movie is gorgeous. I had to watch it several times just to take it all in. Something about it reminds me of Samurai Jack. On a story and character level, this movie is solid. The characters are mostly basic, but likable and well developed. I just wish there was more.
  5. Apr 10, 2012
    This movie is beautiful but suffers from a singular flaw: it doesn't really go anywhere. The Book of Kells is simply not something that most people in the world know or care about, so the climax of the movie being that the book is DONE is, well, anticlimatic. There is no closure with Ashley, there is no real resolution of mystery, and indeed overall only two characters develop, and then not enough to really feel like adequate payoff. The climax for most audiences comes in halfway, with the theft of the eye.

    It's worth watching once to appreciate the artistry, but it left me unfulfilled.
  6. Dec 28, 2011
    Very beautiful, fun and color-filled. It is interesting as a children's movie due to its art cinema characteristics and to the emphasis put into its visual artistic style. You may often find funny moments but this movie is not meant for a mindless audience. It takes the viewer through a wonderful and mythical story inspired in ancient Irish folk, filled with simple yet breathtaking scenes and a friendly atmosphere that will blow you away with creativity. Perfect for imaginative minds such as children. Expand
  7. May 2, 2011
    I should preface my review by stating that I only give it a 9 rating instead of a 10 because I feel perfection should always remain unattainable. But certainly in the realms of animation, storytelling, and world-immersion, "The Secret of Kells" excels nearly all Hollywood prefabricated animated movies of the past 25 years. From the lush and almost pungent colors, to the stark and exaggerated shapes and dimensions, to the fluid and surreal movements, the animation in this film falls second to none for vision, distinction, and uniqueness. Those looking for a photo-realistic or purely verisimilar approach to animation should most definitely look elsewhere, since the style, nuance, character, and idiosyncrasy of "The Secret of Kells" do not fall in the realm of most contemporary, digitally enhanced, video game-lookalikes presented by the Hollywood studio-industrial complex and acting as the next wave in dumbing down our cultural discourse and homogenizing the human imagination. In addition, the themes of friendship, community, daring, assertiveness, and communion with the earth and all her creatures allow the aesthetically pleasing animation to find an equal complement in thematic richness and meaning. The character of Aisling, while not altogether unproblematic for her self-sacrificial tendencies, nevertheless offers children, young people, and anyone with an open mind and heart the opportunity to hear the voice of earth's children in a language any English-speaker can comprehend. In short, "The Secret of Kells" offers great aesthetic, empathetic, and ethical potential to anyone looking for an experience of beauty and meaning. You've been warned. Expand
  8. Dec 13, 2010
    Having been trained in fine art, having studied art history, and being an enormous fan of animation and cartoons, I must say this is one of the finest creations in the last five years. The story itself is simple and sweet, perhaps nothing to celebrate, and set in a medieval Ireland some 1200 years ago. However, the Tartakovskian stylization of characters, the backgrounds abstracted to a nearly Byzantine flatness, and the romanticization of monastic inspiration pay great homage to the original Book of Kells.

    And if you don't like all the heady intellectual stuff, it's incredible to look at, the soundtrack is totally mesmerizing, and I will sheepishly confess being moved to tears by Aisling's Song to Panger Ban. Great for the family, spooky and lovely, I'd recommend it to any one with an interest in animation, Irish lore, or art history. Check it out! (As of December 2010, its Watch Instant on Netflix!)

Universal acclaim - based on 20 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 20
  2. Negative: 0 out of 20
  1. 90
    The exquisite art and fairytale ambience will win over animation fans and children alike.
  2. Reviewed by: Leslie Felperin
    With its jewel-bright colors and intricate use of lines, the result is absolutely luscious to behold.
  3. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    Gorgeously mounted tale of enlightenment through art and courage.