Movie Review: Strange Magic – A confusing score and an even more bewildering plot line.


I’m really looking forward to the day when movies go back to being movies and stop being musicals. I’m not a very big music girl. In fact, despite the fact that I am a fan of Glee, I don’t watch it for the music. I actually fast forward through the music and watch it for the storyline.

Without the music, it’s approximately 7 minutes long.

So generally, I try to avoid movies that feature a lot of singing in them. Heck, I’m the one person left on the planet who hasn’t seen Frozen and never intends to see it. With how much I’ve been forced to listen to the song Let It Go, I already feel like I’ve caught all the high points anyway.

But I decided to give Strange Magic a shot. Not because it’s a musical, but because it’s by George Lucas. This is a mad cap fairytale that is loosely based on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Nights Dream. This is a land divided. On one side, there is the beautiful fairy kingdom, ruled by a King (Alfred Molina) with two daughters. The oldest is Marianne (Evan Rachel Wood), who is still recovering from getting her heart broken by Roland (Sam Palladio), the man she was getting ready to marry. On the flipside, Dawn, the youngest daughter, played by Meredith Anne Bull, is the exact opposite and spends her time flirting with her best friend Sunny (Elijjah Kelley). The other side is made up of the Dark Forest, which is kind of what you’d expect a dark forest to be. The evil Bog King (Alan Cumming) has kidnapped the sugar plum fairy (Kristin Chenoweth), and now the fairies are fighting to get her back.

The movie is a bit convoluted and I had a bit of a hard time seeing any inspiration from A Midsummer’s Nights Dream, with the exception of a fairy who makes love potions. It was a bit confusing, which isn’t really good when your target audience is under 12.

I will say the movie had a few laugh out loud moments. While critics have been panning it widely, I won’t call it terrible. The scenery is beautiful, the animation excellent and the characters are intriguing. The problem comes for the labyrinthine story line and the music, which felt a bit too Moulin Rouge for a kids movie.

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It’s a bizarre film but again, it’s not terrible. It’s just a bit drawn out. Dare I say it? I think this would have been way better without the music. When watching, you’ll repeatedly wonder why a specific song was chosen at a particular time. It’s like the person who chose the music hadn’t watched the movie.

A Midsummer’s Night Dream is already a convoluted story. Adding even more to it makes it far too messy. I mean, it’s Shakespeare. Why improve on Shakespeare? Just do the movie based on the original plot, without adding in a bunch of stuff or some important life lessons about how beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A confusing score and an even more bewildering plot line don’t really make this movie the best it could be. I think the creators would have benefited from a ‘less is more’ stance on this one. If it had been simplified, I think the movie would have really shined. As it stands now, it’s a bit of a forgettable effort.

WE GAVE IT: 2.5 Stars

2.5 Stars



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Movie Review: The Boy Next Door – A good movie could have been great with a bit more work


I had no idea that Jennifer Lopez was still making movies. Despite my misgivings (I still haven’t fully recovered from Gigli) I have to say, The Boy Next Door wasn’t half bad. In fact, it was kind of a throwback to those psychological thrillers that were so popular in the 90s, like The Temp or The Hand the Rocks the Cradle.

Lopez stars as a newly divorced teacher named Clair Peterson. After sewing some wild oats and engaging in a one night stand with 19 year old Noah Sanborn (Ryan Guzman), Peterson’s life takes a turn for the worse. Turns out, Sanborn is bunny boiling nuts and proceeds to stalk and harass Peterson right up to a climactic and deadly confrontation.

Now that I think about it, this movie is a lot like Fatal Attraction, only with a bit of a role reversal. The one major problem I see with it is the way Noah just suddenly went from 0 to nuts at the speed of light. See, in Fatal Attraction, you could see there was some bad stuff coming from Glen Close’s character, from the way she set up meetings, to how immediately clingy and crazy she got.

With Noah, there is no warning. One minute, he’s the nice kid tending to his invalid grandfather. The next, he’s full on psychotic. There are no signs as to what was coming. I think if there had been a bit of build up, even some subtle signs that Noah was a bit nuts, it would have worked.




On top of that, Lopez’s character decisions make her a hard woman to sympathize with. Yes, I know Noah is allegedly 19 (though he doesn’t look like any 19-year-old I’ve ever seen) but he is in high school. The fact that a teacher in her 40s just happily jumps his bones is kind of disturbing and a little bit of me was saying ‘this chick had it coming’ when Noah starts to stalk her.

While this movie is getting thoroughly panned, I don’t think it’s quite that bad. In fact, I found it pretty stylish and thrilling. It had a few tense moments and I enjoyed it. As far as psycho factor goes, this movie was right up there with Fear.

I think the main problem is the lack of character development. It’s hard to see why Lopez’s character would risk everything to get naked with a dude half her age. It’s hard to see why Guzman’s character goes completely nuts out of nowhere. There should have been more buildup in order to make that relationship a bit more believable. After all, this kid seduces her in the first 20 minutes of the movie. I’m around Lopez’s age, and there is no way some high school kid is getting into my pants that quickly.

It’s not a terrible movie. It’s just the way the film moves so rapidly from relationship development to stalking isn’t realistic. If they’d drawn that part out a bit, this really could have been a Fatal Attraction. The problem is it didn’t really make it there. No character development made it harder to believe and a good movie could have been great with a bit more work.

WE GAVE IT: 3.5 Stars – Watch the Official Trailer and Official Movie Poster below!

3.5 stars


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