Friday, January 30, 2015

Movie Review #210: "Strange Magic" (2015)

Movie"Strange Magic"
Ticket Price: $12.50
Director: Gary Rydstrom
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 39 minutes
Image Source
It's the wedding day of fairy princess Marianne (Evan Rachel Wood) and she is set to marry a fairy named Roland (Sam Palladio). Just before their wedding, Marianne catches Roland with another fairy and calls off their wedding. Roland, determined to be king, convinces an elf named Sunny (Elijah Kelley), who is in love with Marianne's sister Dawn (Meredith Anne Bull), to go into the Dark Forest with a primrose petal and convince the Sugar Plum Fairy (Kristin Chenoweth) to make them a love potion to use on the princesses. The Sugar Plum Fairy is currently being held captive by the Bog King (Alan Cumming), who rules the Dark Forest and hates love. Sunny's little quest unleashes the Bog King's wrath on the fairies as he takes Dawn as his prisoner. When Marianne goes to rescue her sister, she finds things aren't always what they seem. 

WHY???????????????  "Strange Magic" is one of my favorite songs and now it is nothing more than a trippin' balls movie for kids. Damn you, George Lucas!!

Let's start with the good things about this movie since that list is very short. The movie's animation is done very well and looks pretty good. In fact, it is much better than we thought it was going to be judging by the promotion we had seen for this film. Though we don't like the way the humanoid characters, like the fairies and elves are designed, all of the backgrounds, the other animals, the goblins, the forests and the Bog King himself look splendid. Our favorite of all of these creatures were the mushrooms, which look especially fantastic. This is where our positive review ends.

Having clean, crisp animation and a few cool looking characters is not enough to save a really magic-less film. Beyond what we mentioned above, the story, the dialogue and everything else is just bad. Really bad. When she finds her soon to be betrothed in the arms of another fairy, Marianne instantly "goes goth" and swears off love. And the other sister, Dawn? She's a flirt who only ever thinks about boys 24/7. Yeah, *that's* really helping the movement. Apart from this glaringly stereotypical plot line, the movie full of random old pop and rock songs which are completely out of place in an enchanted forest. It's almost as if George Lucas holed himself up in a weird deserted cabin for a month, listening to only his favorite mix tape and decided to make a movie out of all the songs. That, plus a few songs his kids like. Nothing feels cohesive about the music and the plot only serves as a way to lead from one song to the next. Very few of these songs are actually performed well apart from the ones including Alan Cumming, and even then, that is a short list in comparison to all the others that are howled and squawked at audiences for 1 hour and 40 minutes. We really tried to get into the tunes we have come to know and love, but when a fairy is flying around shrieking "Can't Help Falling in Love" by Elvis ad nauseam, it is seriously not a good time. And speaking of love, for a movie with a tag line like "Everybody deserves to be loved," which is a noble message for kids who feel like they are "different," there is a surprising lack of heart to it all. This message feels interwoven around the music as opposed to being front and center as the plot. There are really no connections between any of the characters, even the ones that are supposed to be smitten with one another. What little love there is feels forced and only there to, once again, plunge the final nail into the classic rock coffin by further the tarnishing of old time rock n' roll.

Elementary school aged children and younger will might like the look of this movie as well as how the music sounds, and by proxy, they might even get to know a bitchin' old school song or two because of this film, but will they connect to it at all, or will it just be "Three Little Birds" from that fairy movie, not the classic by reggae great Bob Marley? Will "Strange Magic" By ELO now always be synonymous with that one kids movie that really bombed? The bottom line is, from the get go, this movie is just strange and the magic remains to be seen. This isn't even a kids movie that adults will enjoy, even with what should be a fantastic soundtrack. It is as if Disney was afraid to be associated with this movie, even though it was under their umbrella. And no offense to the great Alan Cumming, but when he's one of the movie's biggest stars, you have to know you're targeting the wrong demographic.

Oh, and points to George Lucas for having literally no shame in making the Fairy King look exactly like his animated replica. Way to be subtle there, George! You are box office poison, and this is coming from two huge "Star Wars" fans.

My Rating: 3.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 4/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 17%
Do we recommend this movie: No.

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