Strange Magic – A Review

strange-magic-poster1Strange Magic is now in theaters and features a story from George Lucas and Lucasfilm.  I was able to see it at the El Capitan theater in Hollywood, which is a great experience in of itself.

Story

The plot is based on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  When I first heard that I was a little surprised.  Midsummer is possibly my favorite Shakespeare play, but I don’t think it’s the easiest to convert to different tellings.  This version is a musical, which makes it even more interesting to try to tell.

Throughout the movie I was trying to figure out the connection to the classic play.  But, it doesn’t mean that they did a bad job.  My mistake was trying to look at it from the play’s lens.  This is its own movie.

That being said, I liked the story.  It wasn’t too basic, but kept to archetypes that kept me going with the characters.  There’s maybe one character that doesn’t necessarily need to be there, but the rest have a purpose and I enjoyed where they went with each.

It starts with Marianne, the fairy princess, on her wedding day to Roland.  Roland seems full of himself, and it’s obvious he just wants to be king.  We, along with Marianne, find out that Roland has been cheating on her and the wedding is called off.  Marianne also finds out who she really is, which is a headstrong individual that thinks she doesn’t need anyone else to take care of her, especially a guy.  We’re introduced to Sunny and Marianne’s sister, Dawn.  Sunny loves Dawn, but Dawn flirts with every good looking guy she sees.  Oh, and Sunny is an elf, which probably doesn’t help his chances with a fairy.  Eventually a plot is set in motion where both Sunny and Roland decide their best chances to get the relationships they want is to get a love potion from the Dark Woods.  It sets up an encounter with the Bog King who does not want love to run amuck.

If you’re wondering what the ties are to the original Shakespeare comedy, a big part is the use of the love potion.  The play had use of this where people were exposed in not the intentional way. The same can be said about the use of the love potion in this film.

Again, I did like the story.  There were some things that caught me off guard for a more kid friendly film.  I like having that it wasn’t as predictable as I thought.  My only complaint had more to do with execution in editing.  Some scenes stayed with characters too long, and you almost forget about one of the other sets because of it.  They could have cut back and forth a little more and wouldn’t have lost a lot.

strange-magicMusic

This is a musical.  The use of songs will either annoy some or make people love the movie.  I’m more on the loving it side, surprisingly.  I’m not the biggest musical fan, but this movie helped me see that a musical version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream could really work.

A big note to make is that the songs are all pop songs.  Again, that could annoy some, and I wasn’t sure as I started hearing them.  But, it’s all done artistically.  It’s not just a band playing each song.  I felt like the versions were well thought out in arrangement.  And, the songs picked even help tell the story.  They’re not picked for popularity.  In all, music was executed well.

Animation

From the first scenes alone the movie was eye candy.  This is some of the most breathtaking cgi in any movie I’ve seen.  Backgrounds are incredibly lush and detailed.  The characters have as much detail and a wide range of movement.  I was impressed with the animation.

STRANGE MAGICBut, I’ve got to say that some character designs could have been stronger.  I feel like they could be cookie cutter with other films.  Sometimes, it just didn’t seem like it was giving the right vibe.  Was it too distracting?  No, but when you’re under the Disney umbrella it’s hard to compare with Disney quality characters.  Personalities fit, but design could have been stronger on a few.

Conclusion

Strange Magic is not a full Disney movie.  This is being released under Touchstone Pictures, produced by Lucasfilm.  It’s hard to not compare with Disney films.  It does not hold up to recent Disney or Pixar films.  But, it’s still highly entertaining.  I enjoyed the whole story.  It had some great gags, and terrific visuals.  Like I said before, it’s eye candy, especially for someone who’s studied some animation like myself.  It’s a big movie in the technical sense.  It’s fun for families. It’s heartwarming.  It’s very enjoyable.  I think it’s getting a bit of a bad reputation right now, but it should have more credit.  It has me wondering if more Lucasfilm animated films will be produced.  It’s not the best, but I think it’s far from the worst.  I give it a 2.5 or 3 out of 5.  It’s worth seeing in a theater.  But, maybe matinee.  Give it a chance.

Murray the Bellhop

Murray the Bellhop covers Knott's Berry Farm, Marvel, and also helps with DAPs Magic's Disneyland coverage. He also hosts DAPscast and helps produce Geeks Corner.

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