Sometimes I feel sorry for George Lucas. Then I remember what he did to Star Wars and I don’t feel so sorry but still what must it be like for one human being to be so high and then so low? I can’t even imagine. Well, he certainly hasn’t let failure get to his head because last week he released an animated film, Strange Magic, emblazoned with “from the mind of George Lucas” right on the poster for all to see. I’m still baffled by that choice. I can’t think of a single person who would see that tagline and think “George Lucas? I want to go to that”.
But I promised you I’d see every animated film in 2015 and I intend do so. And no matter all the bad reviews I always try to go into every movie with an open mind and have been willing to go against popular opinion on more than one occasion (Atlantis: The Lost Emipre and Wreck-It Ralph anyone?).
The only theater I could find showing it (and just opened on Friday I will remind you) is this strange theater about 13 minutes from my house. Everytime I’ve been there it is like a ghosttown and tonight was no exception. Had the whole theater to myself which allowed me to take notes on my phone and not bother anyone.
So here’s the deal on Strange Magic. It is bad but mainly because of the writing, annoying music and obvious story. The animation is not half bad. It is for that reason I would put it above last year’s stinkers Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return which didn’t look finished and the garish and unfunny Nut Job. If it was just a predictable fairy movie I might be able to place it with The Tinker Bell movies in animation quality but those movies are more clear, vibrant, better vocal performances and stories.
Evidently George Lucas made this movie “because nothing is made for girls any more”. That was definitely true in the 70’s George but since Little Mermaid I think you’d have a hard time proving that at least with Disney (Pixar yes but plenty of movies made for girls). I mean Frozen made over 1 billion!
The strangest thing about him making this for girls is a good chunk of the movie is about Sonny the elf finding the fairy Dawn (Meredith Anne Bull) with little scenes of Dawn and Marianne(Evan Rachel Wood) fairies usually thrown in to sing about love or how tough they are.
I think Lucas also thinks it will appeal to girls because there is lots of talk about love (it is Midsummer’s Night Dream in the same way Gnomeo and Juliet was about Romeo and Juliet). And of course you have to throw in a wedding, a Spring Ball and an Elf Festival because girls love parties! (Groan…).
The two faeries are sisters (of course) and one is free spirited and the other is bitter about love. There is also a Sugar Plum Fairy (Kristin Chenoweth) who is taken captive by the evil Bog King (Alan Cumming) who is known simply as Bog by his mother and followers.
All of this could be good in a corny kind of way but the music puts it over the top with each choice being so on the nose it is like playing a game of Name that Tune. We know the moment we here the character is named Marianne we are going to hear “C’mon Marianne” by Frankie Valli. As soon as a character is at the dance we hear “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” by Whitney Houston. It’s like Moulin Rouge but a decade too late and with an even more predictable plot.
The worst was at the end when a character breaks into Wild Thing by The Troggs. Couldn’t they have been a little more creative? It’s like George Lucas downloaded his ipod, threw in a few modern songs like Kill You Makes You Stronger and Say Hey.
Even the songs would be passable if the script was better. We get lines like
“Looking for trouble? Well, you’ve come to the right place” says the Bog King and then we get Trouble by Elvis which has lines “Well, I’m evil so don’t you mess around withe me”. Groan. It’s like these guys learned to write scripts in kindergarten.
Another line “You’re one to talk with your magic recipe. A recipe for failure”.
“See what happens when love is unleashed on the world”
“Even with a love potion I’m too hideous to love”
“Why would you think a beast like you could get a beauty like Marianne” (surprised Disney allowed that one. Gaston should be offended!
“My life flashed before my eyes. I was hot…”
“I’ve learned something. Never judge someone or it by the way he, she or it looks” Thank George for explaining the most obvious moral in the world to us in case we didn’t catch on…
And my favorite “Pull your head out of the clouds. Clouds of boys…”. Oh boy. Now I’m thinking the writers have never met a little girl. Do they think this is how they really talk?
Basically the story is a girl fairy is jilted on her wedding day by a jerk fairy. She turns against love but her sister is still a believer. The elf Sonny is in love with fairy Dawn and wants to get the potion for her from the Sugar Plum Fairy. The jilted beau also wants the potion to force Marianne to love him (the antidote is so groan inducing).
Then they meet various obstacles but get the potion fairly easily which is not guarded well by the Bog King who wants to keep the fairy because the potion didn’t work on the girl he loved. (that darn antidote again!).
They all end up meeting in the forest and battling over the love potion and it is so predictable and full of terrible puns and one liners.
I can’t figure out why they wouldn’t have made Kristin Chenoweth Dawn? The Sugar Plum Fairy isn’t in the movie that much and has only 1 song.
Lucas did get some decent singers in Alan Cumming, Chenoweth and Wood but it is all like a karaoke theme night on romantic songs.
Like I said the animation is tolerable and it isn’t going to harm your kids like something such as The Smurfs with all its obnoxious product placement. This is just a predictable bland movie with a lot of music kids won’t have heard of like People are Strange by the Doors or Mistreated by Deep Purple. What little kid knows those?
As far as content goes there is a scene where two male characters kiss for laughs which has gotten so tired a joke. Get over it! The Bog King might be scary to little children but it is tempered pretty quickly with songs and jokes (and the Bog King’s mother trying to set him up).
So it is not as bad as Nut Job or Legends of Oz but that’s really damning with faint praise. A definite skip. (The things I do for you guys!).
Overall Grade D
24 thoughts on “Strange Magic Review”
I just find the animation in this to be “dirty” whereas in ‘Legends of Oz’ it was colorful, so that’s probably why I like Oz’s animation better.
That’s fair but it’s actually brighter than the ads show except when they are at the Bog King. It is similar in style to the Tinker Bell movies. Oz looked really cheap to me. The story and songs are equally bad in both.
It is probably the most similar to Gnomeo and Juliet. Classic story, bad writing, random pop songs and a similar artistic style.
And I happened to love ‘Gnomeo and Juliet’ 😛 !
Oh boy. You might like Strange Magic then. You can’t change the ending of Romeo and Juliet! Give me a break! It was just a foolish project from the start. And the songs were so bad…
Nah, I was interested in ‘Gnomeo and Juliet’ from the trailer….and I never cared much for ‘Romeo and Juliet’, so I didn’t care about the ending. And how can you not love Michael Caine in a voice role 😛 ?
Ha. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Ugh. Keep your animated Shakespeare, changed endings and terrible music away from me!
Next up we are going to get Julius Caesar set in a world of cockroaches with Beatles songs and a happy ending (shut up Rachel don’t give them ideas). Honestly, is nothing sacred?
Just watched Tinker Bell and it is considerably better than Strange Magic. It’s really a pretty good film.
I just saw it, thought it was actually rather good. However, it’s nothing like I expected…and if you give up on it in the first 10 minutes and measure the rest by that, you’ll probably hate it. I cringed during the first 10 minutes, and then realized this was more like a broadway jukebox musical on film rather than stage. It’s about as jerky in flow as most stage productions that I’ve seen and not smoothed out (they normally smooth out many stage productions if they move them to film). The thing about the movie is it’s more about the music (so if you hate the music, you’ll hate the movie) than the story. Basically, the story is just a background for them to put the music there.
The girls LOVED the movie. I enjoyed the movie. For the record, I can’t stand the tinkerbell movies (if it weren’t for the little girls, I’d probably burn them in a pile of the hottest fire I could create), and didn’t really care for EPIC (though this movie really isn’t anything like EPIC). I didn’t think this was a Disney film though, I’d probably put it pretty far down the pole on how good it would be as a Disney film. It definitely beats out Home on the Range and Atlantis, and probably Brother Bear, but it’s not anything close to being as good as the Little Mermaid (my favorite).
Welcome to the blog. Thanks for the comment. My main problem was the script and how lame the dialogue was. It looks nice and some of the songs were fine. Did your kids know a lot of the 60s and 70s songs? They seemed like odd choices for a kids film. And the songs were so on the nose with the plot that it was very predictable. Like I knew as soon as her name was Marianne we would hear Marianne. That was kind of groan inducing.
I can see why you enjoyed it and you are probably right about the beginning being the weakest part. I’m always glad when anyone likes a movie so that’s great. Thanks for sharing
I actually like the Tinkerbell movies but I have a little lower standard when reviewing direct to dvd movies but even on their own I think the stories are pretty good and they look well made. :). I actually havent seen Epic.
It’s definitely better than Brother Bear and Home on the Range but I actually have a soft spot for Atlantis. I thought it was a fun adventure with a creative world and team exploring this land. I’m in minority on that one but I tell it like I see it. If you look on my Disney canon section you can see my reviews to all of them.
Oh and nothing is as good as Little Mermaid in my book! 🙂
I am watching the film right as I type this for a review…….. and it is not good at all. Honestly, I have not been that impressed with the films this year so far, but I know there is still a decent amount to be released. It is very predictable, and the songs every 2 minutes are very tiring to put it very nicely. If it was not for the animation, it would be one of the worst films I have ever seen.
Yep its not good especially the script and stupid characters. I think this year has been kind of disappointing. I loved Inside Out and liked Shaun the Sheep and When Marnie was There. That’s the highlights so far but excited for Peanuts this week and Good Dinosaur.
I agree on the music. They are so predictable and on the nose I groaned each time they started to sing and I love musicals. But mostly the idiotic writing and characters sink it. It’s my worst animated film of 2015 followed by Home
The characters and script are definitely the worst part of the film. I have never really commented on the script when it comes to films, but this one is atrocious. Like I have never seen anything so bad. I have only watched 4 films this year, and Inside Out is the only on that impressed me.
What are the 4? Yeah it’s a terrible script and to think Lucas felt this was empowering to girls…sigh.
Strange Magic, Despicable Me (reviewing those two right now), Home, and Inside Out. I do not know how they thought this was empowering women…
Yikes those are bad except for Inside Out which I’m obsessed with. I saw it 4 times in theater and own it now on bluray. I did a long detailed spoiler review you should check out. When Marnie was There was good. You have to accept some magical realism and it can be sad but I liked it. Oh and Shaun the Sheep is a real winner. Even Hotel Transylvania 2 was better than Minions, Home and Strange Magic. That’s worst of year by a mile. Still dont like this year even close to last year.