by Al Kessel
Hmm. Well...Strange Magic is a LucasFilms animated movie. And by extension, a Disney film. But, NOT a Disney film. At. All. Although the previews, and most of the promotional materials make this look like a feature for kids, it's not. Not that it contains anything 'off color' or 'questionable', it just doesn't seem like something that would interest children. Or many adults to be honest. Oh, and it's a musical (more about THAT in a minute).
Based on the classic Shakespeare play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Strange Magic follows a feisty princess (voiced by Evan Rachael Wood) as she sets out to rescue her doofy sister (voiced by Meredith Anne Bull) from the evil Bog KING (voiced by Alan Cumming) after a breakdancing (yes, I said breakdancing...) dwarf misuses a magic love potion created by the Sugar Plum Fairy (oh for the love of...) voiced by Kristen Chenoweth. And that's about as good a synopsis as I can offer. Seriously. Oh, and there's a self-centered, cheating, self absorbed 'hero' named Roland (voiced by Sam Palladio).
Ok, the music. Now, with most Disney animated films one would expect music and songs. Remember, earlier I said this ISN'T a Disney film. At. All. This film's ODD playlist of music offers everything from Elvis Presley's Can't Help Falling in Love, to Deep Purple's Mistreated, with some Doors, The Four Seasons and a GREAT deal more misplaced, acid induced music that most kids wouldn't even recognize let alone enjoy. In fact, I'd dare say the music would even annoy most kids. And there's a LOT of it. Every few minutes it seems. It seems to me that writer George Lucas popped his ear buds in and cranked up his favorite iTunes playlist called 'Tunes to open my mind to" and decided to randomly pop them into the production. And when I say this film has those old songs in them, I mean, not the originals. No...these classic songs were redone, and not in a great way either.
Aesthetically, Strange Magic is a very colorfully rich animated feature. The CG is what one would expect from a LucasFilm, although some of the characters are kind of freaky looking. Unfortunately, the film falls WAY short of even the slightest bit of entertainment, mostly due to the misplaced music, and the fact that it's SO LONG (well, actually only about 99 minutes but it kind of feels like days). Getting a kid to sit through this film will be magic in itself.
All this aside, I truly understand and encourage writers and filmmakers to try new things. To take the risk at doing something so far out of there typical wheelhouse that they often risk bombing. And I'm sorry to say, this is one of those instances. On a scale of 1-5 Mickey's, I'd have to give Strange Magic a 1.5 (the .5 is for taking a chance on something different). Just remember, this is my review, and my opinion. Yours may be different.
Strange Magic is now available on DVD, Digital HD/SD and On-Demand.
- Magical Mash-Up
- Test and Melodies
- Creating the Magic
Let us know what YOU think of Strange Magic!