STRANGE MAGIC – Review by Susan Granger
Supposedly inspired by Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” George Lucas’s animated story, filled with fairies, elves and goblins, is grotesquely weird. Read on…
Set in a place of enchantment, this mythic world is divided into parts. The happy, colorful Fairy Kingdom is ruled by a King (Alfred Molina) with two daughters. When the eldest, feisty, purple-winged Marianne (Evan Rachel Wood), catches her betrothed Roland (Sam Palladio) cheating on her, she vows she’ll never fall in love again.
Meanwhile, her flighty younger sister Dawn (Meredith Anne Bull) remains an incorrigible flirt, oblivious to the fact that her best friend Sunny (Elijjah Kelley), a tiny, troll-like elf, has a serious crush on her.
Presiding over the Dark Forest is the gnarled, bitter Bog King (Alan Cumming), who loathes the concept of love because it’s chaotic: “Love is dangerous. It weakens. It rots…it destroys order. Without order, there is chaos.”
Primrose flowers separate both lands; their petals can be used to make powerful love potions. But the Sugar Plum Fairy (Kristin Chenoweth), who knows how to create the concoctions, has been kidnapped and imprisoned inside the Bog King’s dungeon. Merry mischief ensues.
Working from a bland script he co-wrote with David Berenbaum and Irene Mecchi, director Gary Rydstrom (a seven-time Oscar-winner for sound designer), creates an eerie woodland, filled with garish, photo-realistic imagery – credited to Lucasfilm Animation Singapore and Industrial Light & Magic.
Problem is: while the lyrics of the pop-music covers, chosen by “Moulin Rouge!” music director Marius de Vries, were meant to tell the hackneyed story, the mixtape quickly become an annoying distraction.
Obviously, the message of the movie is: “Never judge someone by how he or she looks.”
Apparently, George Lucas created this patchwork fantasy for his three daughters whom, he said, deserved something a little more feminine than “Star Wars,” which was designed for 12 year-old boys. (FYI: the potbellied Fairy King bears more than a passing resemblance to Lucas himself.)
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Strange Magic” is a bizarre 4. Let’s just say it’s a bad “Dream.”