Belfast Telegraph

Strange Magic review: A tale that fails to cast its spell

By Staff Reporter

If musicals be the food of love, then Hollywood has feasted many times at Shakespeare's table. The feuding Montagues and Capulets of Romeo And Juliet kicked up their heels as the Jets and Sharks of West Side Story, The Taming Of The Shrew smooched as Kiss Me, Kate and The Comedy Of Errors was note perfect as The Boys From Syracuse.

In Strange Magic, A Midsummer Night's Dream provides the loose inspiration for a computer-animated standoff between fairies, who can't help falling in love to Elvis Presley, and self-loathing bog creatures, who have been mistreated to Deep Purple.

Gary Rydstrom's heavy-handed romance might take its initial cue from Shakespeare's forest fantasy but it plunders Disney's 1991 version of Beauty And The Beast for the achingly predictable second act.

Even preschoolers will roll their eyes when the king of the fairies pointedly remarks, "Never judge something, or someone, by how it, or he, or she looks." Spookily, that's also true of Rydstrom's picture.

The detailed, photorealistic backgrounds conjured by the animators cast a heady spell. Alas, the same cannot be said of a script - based on an idea by George Lucas - that refuses to delve beneath the shiny surface of the two-dimensional characters. Princess Marianne (voiced by Evan Rachel Wood) lives in Fairy Kingdom with her flighty younger sister, Dawn (Meredith Anne Bull).

The older fairy - and heir to the throne - is poised to marry hunky soldier Roland (Sam Palladio). Her reverie is shattered when she discovers Roland in a clinch with another fairy. Strange Magic fails to deliver either part of its beguiling title.

But we all know it will work out because even Shakespeare couldn't resist an occasional happy ending.

Two stars

Belfast Telegraph


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