Saturday, April 29, 2017

Strange Magic movie review

...Because everyone deserves love.

What is it? CGI animated theatrical release movie produced by Disney's Touchstone Pictures and...LucasFilm and animated/rendered by Industrial Light & Magic from a story concept by George Lucas, of all things (note that this was released a couple years after Disney acquired LucasFilm and was released the same year as TFW)
Where did it air? Well originally it was a theatrical release so it shouldn't be too hard to find on streaming services or DVD/Blu-Ray by now, but I recorded it off Disney Channel's airing
Who stars in it? Maya Rudolf as the main character, Alan Cummings (hehe) as the main villain/other main character I guess, uh, some other big names I'm sure.
Why are we reviewing it? Well it was on Disney Channel so why not plus I was always curious about the movie in that "well I do kind of wonder if it's more than just a string of songs put together to form a movie."

Boy was I ever disappointed.

I mean, technically speaking it's very visually impressive as you'd expect from an all-CGI animation from one of the most high-tech studios in the country and therefore the world. But it really does feel like a tech demo and then Ole' Georgy Boy said, "eh, let's fill it with cover songs until we finally bump the run time up to 90 minutes and call it a day." Seriously there's probably 15 second before characters spontaneously break into song. The story is [i]literally[/i] told as a musical - which wouldn't be so bad if it had more original songs than songs so old they either appeal to really old people ("hey I remember that song! That was back when I was young! I remember my youth!") or little kids who just don't know any better.

I mean, let's take a look at the typical musical DCOM, like the granddaddy of them all, High School Musical. It's not like everybody was [i]literally[/i] singing the whole time (the number of times people burst out to spontaneous singing is at least somewhat exaggerated) and I think the numbers are actually pretty catchy (c'mon, who doesn't like Get Your Head in the Game, Bop to the Top, and so on). Or a typical Disney Canon animated musical like, say, The Emperor's New Groove (which we'll get to soon) or Tangled. As much as I said Tangled is overrated, it has some really catchy music.

As for Strange Magic (which I guess is technically a Disney Movie by way of LucasFilm?) I mean...it's short on story, doesn't have a single original song present (as I said, it's covered wall-to-wall, so to speak) and what story it does have is incredibly sappy.

Now at this point I should bring something up because there is [i]another[/i] movie that's guilty of all the same sins: short on story, also covered up wall-to-wall and what story it does have is incredibly sappy.

The movie I speak, of which, is Moulin Rouge. Yes, that Laz Burman movie that's highly divisive (then again I guess all his movies are) with Nicole Kidman in it.

But in Moulin Rouge's defense there's a major difference between it and Strange Magic. See, Moulin Rouge is sappy - but deliberately so, in that the whole message is "there is a time and place for sappiess, that there is validity to sappiness and we made this whole movie to prove it." Whether it succeeds in that message or not is up to you.

But Strange Magic feels sappy because they know little kids won't be able to tell the difference.

The story does pick up towards the end (and the number of spontaneous singing outbursts somewhat decreases) but...it's an incredibly soft movie. It's good for killing time regardless what age you are but it doesn't feel like something I'd really make multiple trips back to. I could definitely have it in the background a few times but I'm glad I didn't pay full price for it.

Movie Grade: C+
Movie MVP: I really like Alan Cumming's musical numbers plus his last name is fun, tee hee. Maya Rudolph really surprises me with her singing talents, too.

Extra Thoughts

 - Due to a spring snowstorm that knocked out the TV (don't do satellite, kids) I didn't get to see Andi Mack yet so you're getting this instead, folks

 - I mean, the basic core of the story and its moral message is fine enough I guess - you know, don't judge people by how they look (said explicitly in the movie in case you don't get it, said by the fairy king who looks like he was modelled after either George Lucas or the movie's animation director, it doesn't really matter because those two guys happen to look the same anyway) and you can fall in love with anyone - but it just lacks enough bite to really grab onto the memory and swim in the imagination for a bit and climb out of that C-territory grade. I'm sure there are musicals out there that do a better job. I dunno...I've seen Into the Woods as my high school's musical, maybe I should check out the movie.

- Or another movie that kind of does that that I mentioned previously is Little Manhattan. I should do a review of that movie too

 - You know, for a guy known for literally the most famous sci-fi franchise in history, George Lucas is actually a lot closer to Tolkien than Heinlein. Then again it shows up in spades in Star Wars if you really pay attention, but Lucas has a history of messing around with these soft-hearted, fantasy/fairy tale fluff going all the way back to Willow. It's really interesting to follow, what kind and type of storytelling a certain person really likes to do especially if that person is mostly known for a work that clashes with that style (the development of Star Wars as a response to the Vietnam War is really interesting too).

 - Wow I erroneously added a lot of HTML tags to this one (they've since been corrected, so by the time you're reading this, you have no idea what the hell I'm talking about).

3 comments:

  1. It's safe to say you were nicer to this movie than most...including myself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you think a C+ is worth bragging about then sure.

      Delete
    2. Compared to what most people say about it, yes. Yeah, this one's kinda infamous. Not Norm of the North infamous, but it is kinda hated.

      I think it's bad, but not ungodly so. I've seen worse. I reviewed myself:

      https://spongey444.wordpress.com/2015/08/19/strange-magic/

      Delete

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