October 3, 2016

Strange Magic: Does It Work Or Not?


Strange Magic is a strange tale. It takes place in a fantasy world populated with all manner of magical creatures. It's produced by Lucas Films, but it's nothing like some of their other work. Today we're going to look at the movie and figure out whether or not it works. (Caution: spoilers ahead.)

The Good

Let's start with the good parts of this movie. It does have several, so let's take a look.


1. The look

This movie is beautifully animated. If nothing else, you should watch this movie for the visuals. At times, they try a bit too hard, but most of it is great.


2. Kristen Chenoweth

Need I say more? I may not agree with her on all points, but I do love her as an actress. She's a beautiful singer and has the bubbliest personality. She brings loads of fun to any character she plays. In this case, it's the Sugar Plum Fairy.


3. The characters

The characters in Strange Magic are great, if only they had a better story to be in. Marianne is my favorite. Humorous and strong, I love her. The other characters are great too with plenty of growth. I especially enjoy the relationship between Marianne and her sister Dawn. They did a great job with that.


4. Funny

It does score on humor as well. Like the recurring joke between two of the minions, where the first one always convinces the second one to do something that gets him in trouble. The laughs are one of the few high points in this movie.


5. The imp

He's adorable, he's a mischief maker, and I love him. He's certainly one of the best parts of the movie.

The Bad


1. It's cliche

One side of the kingdom is ruled by a nice fairy king and populated with lots of pretty, adorable creatures. The other half is ruled by the evil bog king who lives in a log castle with goblins and ugly creatures as his minions. Why is it always this way? The point I can appreciate is that they make a point to show that things that are ugly aren't always bad and visa versa.


2. Pop music everywhere

Instead of writing original songs for this movie, instead the film makers just dumped in pop music that fit with the scene. This can be done successfully, like in the Alvin and the Chipmunk movies, but this film wan't like that. They sang about every five minutes. I wouldn't have minded a musical, but that just felt sloppy.


3. Moves too fast

The story moves too quickly for you to get a good grasp on what's happening. The first time I watched it, I was totally confused. This is partially because of my next point.


4. Too much going on

There is way too much happening at once in this story. People are running back and forth between the Fairy Kingdom and the Dark Forest, there are love potions, fights, kidnappings, and jinxed love. How is anyone supposed to keep everything straight? Because they stuffed so much in, the plot is almost impossible to describe or follow.


5. Tacked on moral

The theme of this movie and the tagline is that everyone deserves to be loved. But at the end, the king, who I think the story would have been better without, states that out loud. Come on, what is this, a cheesy kids show where every episode has a lesson to learn?


6. Main character issues

Marianne is supposed to be the main character, I think. But she has to share screen time with so many other characters (there are at least eight other characters that are part of it) that it's hard to tell. If she's supposed to be the main character, the story should have focused more on her.


7. No clear story goal

This is the worst part of the movie. Between my sister and me, neither of us could come up with the goal of the story. Like I said, too much is going on and there's no cohesive goal driving the story forward. Every story should have a goal, as should it's hero, which as I said is hard to find.

Ultimately, this movie just doesn't work. The good points can't overcome the bad points. So what can we learn from this movie?

Make sure your main character(s) are easy to identify and give them a clear goal.

Don't cram so much stuff into your story that the plot can't be followed. Stories should be complex, but not to the point where you can't tell the story in a few sentences.

Don't be cliché. Take those cliche's and change them up into something new. Or make complete fun of them, like some writers do.

Let the reader find the theme themselves, not pound them over the head with it.


Make the goal of the story clear from the beginning, or at least before the end of the first act.

Have you watched Strange Magic? What are thoughts: did it work or not? Let me know in the comments.

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