When I first saw the trailers for Lucasfilm’s new animated fantasy Strange Magic, I had no idea what the story was going to be. All I knew was that the trailers were not appealing. I went to the theatre hoping to be surprised, and I was… by how grating the film is.
Inspired by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the story focuses on the light and dark sides of the forest (insert Lucas Star Wars joke here). Fairy princess Marianne, voiced by Evan Rachel Wood, gives up on love after her suitor cheats on her. The Bog King, voiced by Alan Cumming, wants to destroy love forever by killing rare flowers used to create love potions. When an elf named Sunny, voiced by Elijah Kelley, takes a flower to create a love potion of his own, chaos between both sides of the forest ensues.
It’s as if the creators took films like Ferngully or Epic, threw in some Beauty and the Beast, added a dash of Frozen, and topped it all off with the soundtracks of Glee or Moulin Rouge. The plot has many details, yet is never interesting. On the whole, it is a typical “looking for love” story that has been done better in other films. There are so many subplots that the main plot gets lost in it all. The movie comprises the cheapest jokes that barely get a laugh. The pacing is slow in the first half, then speeds up out of nowhere when the main conflict finally shows up, but by then the constant mentioning of love becomes annoying incredibly fast!
More annoying than that are the musical numbers. Instead of original songs, the film takes the jukebox route and covers pop songs from different decades. The voice actors do their best, but it doesn’t save the songs from being distracting and out of place. They never seem to end and are pretty much there to pad the movie’s plot. There are moments where I recognize the instrumentals of a song, but they never sing the lyrics, making the soundtrack confusing.
Strange Magic may look nice, but behind it is nothing original or charming. The story is overloaded and uninspired, the songs don’t work, and the endless use of “love” ironically brings hatred from the viewer. Younger kids will enjoy it, but I can’t say much for the majority of audiences. I’d say you’re better off seeing films like Paddington. Anything but this.