Movie Reviews

Review: 'Strange Magic'

By Zaki JufriMovies - 28 January 2015 12:00 AM | Updated 1:55 PM

Review: 'Strange Magic'

Our Rating

3/5 Stars

‘Strange Magic’ is... well, strange.

An animated children’s adventure movie released when most of their target audience are back in school is strange.

Even stranger is that it is concocted by George Lucas.

Yes. George Lucas: The man who gave us ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Indiana Jones’. 

And it is not your ordinary animated Lucasfilm feature in the vein of ‘Star Wars: Rebels’ or ‘Clone Wars’ but a jukebox musical with fairies, goblins and imps. 

Directed by seven-time Oscar-winning sound designer Gary Rydstrom with a soundtrack arranged by ‘Moulin Rouge!’ music director Marcus De Vries, ‘Strange Magic’ is a bizarre brew of musical and social commentary about love that will make adults wonder what hit them while the music-heavy content will keep the young ones entertained.

When the feisty fairy-princess heroine, Marianne (the voice of Evan Rachel Wood), catches her betrothed, Roland (Sam Palladio), cheating on her, she vows/sings that she will never fall in love again.

Sunny (Elijah Kelley), an elf who secretly pines for Marianne’s sister Dawn (Meredith Anne Bull), schemes with Roland to obtain a love potion from the Sugar Plum Fairy (Kristin Chenoweth). 

Doused with the potion, Dawn falls for the Bog King (Alan Cumming).

With her sister headed down a calamitous path, Marianne sets off to battle the Bog King and his horde of goblins, in order to get her sister home. 


The Bog King and fairy princess Marianne | Photo: Touchstone Pictures

With the players introduced and the plot laid out, action happens and songs are sung.

The cockroach-like Bog King is not your typical romantic lead male. He is wicked with a constant frown on his face, but the message is that everyone, even the meanest person, deserves to be loved. 


The dazzling animation is created by Lucasfilm Animation Singapore and Industrial Light & Magic | Photo: Touchstone Pictures

Rendered immaculately by the digital artists at Lucasfilm Animation Singapore and Industrial Light & Magic, ‘Strange Magic’ boasts stunning visuals.

The animators have created a vivid fantasy so realistic, you would want to reach out to grab a leaping imp or a fairy in flight.

And you can also expect the occasional ‘Star Wars’ reference or two. 

There are covers of about 25 hits from decades present and past, including ‘Barracuda’, ‘Bad Romance’, ‘Trouble’, ‘Love is Strange’, ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)’, ‘Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)’ and ‘Crazy in Love’ from the likes of Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Whitney Houston and more.

Still, apart from the catchy songs and dazzling graphics, there isn’t much else to ‘Strange Magic’.

The script by George Lucas and David Berenbaum fails to establish chemistry among the characters in the beginning.

The weakness of the story becomes apparent very early on as it tries to fill up time with some well-animated, but distracting action or musical scene. Even as they try to make up for content as the story plods on, a lot is still lost.

‘Strange Magic’ certainly isn’t a bad film, but unless you’re a ‘Glee’ or ‘Smash’ fan, there isn’t much for the grown-ups (it is a cheaper alternative to going to a karaoke bar).

It will be a delight for children though. Just prepare yourself for the endless singing.

‘Strange Magic’ opens 29 January 2015

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