Sunday, May 24, 2015

Video review: "Strange Magic"

“Strange Magic” was a 15-year passion project by George Lucas, who said he wanted to make a movie for his daughters after all those science fiction odysseys. This animated musical filled with fairies and goblins and elves, though, ends up as a derivative and largely joyless romp through the enchanted forest.

The animation is decent to look at, with Lucas’ animation outfits in Singapore and California combining efforts. And it’s got an impressive voice cast, including Evan Rachel Wood, Alan Cumming, Kristin Chenoweth, Alfred Molina, Elijah Kelley and Maya Rudolph.

The story centers on Marianne (Wood), heiress to the fairy throne. She rejects her fiancé,  Roland (Sam Palladio), for being a cad, then is horrified when her sister, Dawn, is kidnapped by the evil Bog King (Cumming). His realm is the dank and shadowy antithesis to the fairy world of light and laughter. But somewhere in that crusty old chitinous shell is the beating heart of a guy who’s been knocked around by love.

There’s also the Sugar Plum Fairy (Chenoweth) creating love potions that wreak havoc, a love-smitten elf (Kelley), and the Bog King’s scolding mom (Rudolph), who just wants her son to settle down with a nice frog.

“Strange Magic” seems like an excuse to have faeries and princesses and goblins and get them all to burst into pop music standards, including the title tune. At times it seems like the characters finish a song, speak six lines of dialogue, and then start singing again. The story is just a weak thread in between the warbling.

Little kids might like it, but this is one for parents to pop in the DVD player and leave to go do other things.

Video extras are pretty skimpy. They consist of two making-of featurettes: “Magical Mash Up: Outtakes, Test and Melodies” and “Creating the Magic.”



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