I vaguely recall being somewhat interested in Strange Magic when I’d first heard about it. But given its negative critical reception it ended up on my Netflix list largely forgotten. That is, until recently. It’s certainly not great but is it terrible? Eh… It depends on how patient you are.
One main positive of the film; I was at least able to remember the names of the characters, which is more than I can say for a lot of films that come out. What was the Valkyrie’s name in Thor? Or half of the characters in Ninjago?
The film looks good, in its design and backgrounds. That is, when it’s not focused on some of the awful looking uncanny valley faces. That or it looks like a photo stretched over a model. You know how you can do in some games? Human: Fall Flat is one that comes to mind at the moment.
But in regards to the actual positive things to say, there are two areas in the film, the fairy forest and the dark forest.The fairy forest is rather boring but the dark forest has some interesting character designs. By way of living mushrooms, insects and insect creatures, goblins, and a fennec/possum-like imp which is actually rather cute. One of the goblins was particularly eye-catching because it had a beaked mouth. It wasn’t a major character in any way but I just found that rather interesting.
Alright so it’s a musical, which isn’t something I can hold against the film but there are so many musical numbers… Mostly existing songs but a few originals. To the films credit though, they don’t just play the songs, the characters sing them, when they’re used lyrically. None of the original songs were really memorable though. I couldn’t remember any of them by the time I was done watching. It did feature Barracuda and Wild Thing though which was cool. Wild Thing going into a kaleidoscopic sequence out of nowhere.
A Love Potion Story
It’s a ‘love potion’ story so that’s immediately straining, those are never fun. It’s pretty hard to sympathize with a character that goes out of their way to attempt to rob someone of their autonomy and free will in the name of ‘love’ of their target. Really, it’s reprehensible.
Oh don’t worry the film knows that it’s bad and all the main characters are fine by the end. But there are many characters that we’re led to believe will live the rest of their lives under its influence. One thing of note with these characters though, both sides of the pairings are under the influence and neither in the pair were responsible for it happening. It was the imp that doused them.
Though again, I think the onus is on the character who went through so much to get the potion made.
One of the primary antagonists, the Bog King repeatedly proclaims himself to be evil and just… no. Characters wouldn’t realistically view/proclaim themselves as evil, also:
He has also banned love in the dark forest but it also just comes across as banning the potion the way it’s set up. To this end it’s easy to agree with him. Though in reality he has banned it because it didn’t work for him in the past. All because the one he tried to use it on was already in love. Because who’d have guessed the antidote was… true love.
The majority of the film has his mother, one of the annoying comic relief characters trying to set him up with various creatures of the realm, determined to find him love.
Overall there’s a lot of ‘I don’t like love,’ ‘I like love,’ ‘I also don’t like love, let’s fall in love.’
Also, the film opens on one of the main character’s wedding day but she finds her fiancé cheating. Throughout several scenes the king is just pestering her to give him another chance or get back together with him. Ridiculous.
So would I recommend Strange Magic? Maybe as something to leave on in the background. It’s nice to look at but that’s the gist of it. Maybe if you just want to switch off and watch it.