Strange Magic

Strange Magic

Director: Gary Rydstrom

Writers: Gary Rydstrom, Irene Mecchi, David Berenbaum, George Lucas

Voice Cast: Alan Cumming, Evan Rachel Wood, Elijah Kelley, Meredith Anne Bull, Sam Palladio, Kristin Chenoweth, Maya Rudolph, Peter Stormare, Llou Johnson, Nicole Vigil

Synopsis: Goblins, elves, fairies and imps, and their misadventures sparked by the battle over a powerful potion.

MPAA Rating: Rated PG for some action and scary images

Stevennix2001's Rating:

1.3 / 10

Pros:

- Animation is great.

- Excellent cinematography

Cons:

- Poorly written script

- Characters are bland and uninteresting.

- Falls into every romantic cliché in the book

- Voice acting was mediocre

- The pop songs used in this musical are often hit or miss, as many of them feel forced half the time.

- Dawn was annoying

- Poorly directed

- Side characters are idiots

Please retire George Lucas....

Somewhere out in the world, there's over a million "Star Wars" fanboys that are crying over the fact that Disney decided not to use any of George Lucas' ideas for the new "Star Wars" film. In fact, some are saying that the new "Star Wars" movie is doomed without George's creative input. However, I think what many of those same fanboys fail to realize is that even though George has given us classics like the earlier "Indiana Jones" movies, to "American Graffiti" and the original "Star Wars" trilogy. However, he's also given us the poorly received "Star Wars" prequels, so it's not outside the realm of possibilities that George may have just had some pretty crappy ideas.

And if "Strange Magic" is any indication of what Lucas is capable of these days as a screenwriter, then I think it might be best if George Lucas just retires. At this point, George Lucas would probably be better off as a producer on movies rather than doing anything else, as it's starting to become obvious that he's lost his way creatively as a filmmaker.

Not only is "Strange Magic" arguably the most forgettable animated musical love story that I've ever seen, but it reeks of uninspired work that brings shame to the original Shakespearian play this movie was allegedly based on. According to Lucas himself, this movie was based on Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream", while also acting as a gift to his newborn daughter.

The story revolves around a fairy named Marianne (Evan Rachel Wood), who's trying to save her sister from an evil tyrant that lives in the dark side of the woods, while a love potion causes all sorts of problems throughout the forest. You have fairies falling in love with toads. Lizards kissing elves. As Bill Murray would say in "Ghostbusters", "Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!" Indeed, if you thought all those classic Disney films had shallow love stories with it's infamous half baked "love at first sight" bulls***, then you ain't seen nothing yet until you see "Strange Magic."

The main love stories this half baked piece of garbage focuses on are so shallow and cliched that you'll swear some of the classic Disney animated romances, in the past, feel more nuanced and original. For starters, every character in this movie feels more like a drawn out cliché of various other characters we've seen in other movies before.

You have the heartbroken elderly sister in Marianne, who becomes something of an uber feminist that feels she doesn't need a man, after her last boyfriend cheated on her. Her father is a moron, who for some reason still wants her to date the same handsome prince charming a**hole that cheated on her.

You have the Bog King (Alan Cumming) who's been burned by love before, and he feels it's unnecessary. And when Marianne and Bog King meet, they get into an argument with each that feels like one of those stereotypical lover's quarrel about how love stinks. And if you've seen a lot of romantic comedies like this where two characters argue with each other most of the time, then you know exactly how it plays out. I mean screw the fact that he basically kidnapped her sister, as none of that matters as long as you're in love.

Speaking of her moronic sister, Dawn (Meredith Anne Bull) is basically nothing more than a boy crazy nymphomaniac. Granted, you could tell she was created to be something of a counterbalance between Marianne's pessimistic nature and her unbridled optimism, but instead she comes off as being obnoxious and annoying half the time.

Dawn also has a best friend named Sunny (Elijah Kelley), who happens to be an elf that's secretly in love with her. However, he's stuck in the friend zone with her. Needless to say, he gets conned into going in the dark forest to retrieve a love potion, so he can force her to fall madly in love with him.

Like all love stories about this contrived cliché set up, you know exactly how it'll play out in the end. And to be honest, it doesn't bother me that this scenario about a guy being in love with his best friend, who happens to be a girl, has been used countless of times before. What does bother me is how lazily half a** it's written. For starters, there's hardly any screen time between these two characters.

And whenever they are together, the film hardly gives us any reason on why we should believe he loves her; outside of looks. To make matters worse, she treats him like a little brother half the time, which makes the ending sequence a bit more weirder.

(Warning: The following two italic bold style paragraphs contain a major spoiler. Please skip them if you don't want to have the film spoiled. However, if you've already seen the film, or you simply don't care, then please read on at your own discretion.)

It's revealed that the only cure for the love potion is "true love." Hence, the only way Dawn can be cured from the love potion's effects is to find true love, but she's never been in love before. But as luck would have it, Sunny just sings the same damn song he sung to her before, at the beginning of the freaking film. And for god knows whatever reason, it works this time to make her fall madly in love with him. Um...here's a question...why the hell did that song make her fall in love with him? Granted, I'm not an expert when it comes to women, but he sang that exact same song before and it never made her fall for him, so why would it now? It doesn't make any freaking sense.

Granted, I could understand if maybe he did some long winded speech about how he remembers all the good times with her, while listing all the reasons why he loves her. If he did something like that to make her realize that he truly did love her, in order to touch her heart enough to break the spell, then I could understand. However, George Lucas and his creative staff aren't interested in that nonsense. Character development? What's that? Far easier to rely on stereotypes and tropes for Mr. Lucas.

Plus, the songs in this story are often hit or miss, and sometimes tend to take away from the movie itself. Hell, some situations in this movie don't even require a damn song, but "Strange Magic" does it anyway because.....why the f**k not? Unlike most animated musicals, this one features a song every five freaking minutes; none of them being originally from this film. No, they're all mostly pop songs that you might've heard countless of times before.

If your not a fan of jukebox musicals, then you're not going to like this movie at all. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate jukebox musicals like some critics do. After all, "The Book of Life" was kind of a jukebox musical, as there were some songs that were not originated from that movie, yet each popular song it did use fit the scene perfectly. It didn't feel contrived in any way, nor were any of the songs used as a substitute for character development.

Whereas "Strange Magic", it never even bothers telling you who the characters are outside of their generic stereotypes. Nope, it just uses pop songs throughout most of the damn feature, even though half of them don't even fit within the confines of the overall story.

In fact, it's almost a shame the story wasn't written better because the animation is amazing. Seriously, as bad as "Strange Magic" is, the reality is the CGI animation is arguably some of the best that I've ever seen on the big screen. Hell, you can even see the pupils in the characters' eyes for Pete's sake.

Sadly, the script was terrible. As many of my readers know, I'm not a Lucas hater by any means. If anything, I have a deep rooted respect for the man. However, I think it's time for him to retire as a filmmaker. Seriously, if this half baked rip off of "Beauty and the Beast", "Tinker Bell", "Ferngully", and "Epic" is the best George Lucas can offer us creatively these days, then maybe it's a good thing that Disney didn't want any of his creative input on the new "Star Wars" film.

If the prequels didn't convince die hard "Star Wars" fans that Lucas isn't the same creative visionary he once was, then "Strange Magic" definitely will. Overall, this movie is just straight up garbage. Everything about this story seems contrived, and it feels more along the lines of someone's badly written fanfiction about fairies than anything else.

© 2015 Steven Escareno

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