Tag Archives: princess

Review: Strange Magic

Random clicking on YouTube unfortunately caught my attention with a female fairy singing Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger,” which led to much more clicking to figure out what where she was from, and then… I found myself watching a George Lucas film. Why do I do this to myself? Anywho…

Strange Magic tells the story of two kingdoms: the Fairy Kingdom and the Dark Forest. The border is marked by primroses, which are the key ingredient in love potions. However, they don’t exactly have much to do with each other after the main creator of those potions gets captured and locked away. But that’s going to change as the two fairy princesses and the goblin king get caught up in a tangle that only true love can undo.

…I’m not touching any of that to start with. I’m focusing on the good first here. The animation is pretty, if sometimes a little awkward. I think it comes down to character design when things get odd to look at. The quality is top notch, it’s just certain angles and character expressions. But then you will catch a second where it is just gorgeous to look at. I also applaud that the primroses…actually look like primroses. I’ve had to whack a few people who think a primrose looks the same as your stereotypical rose. And even if they don’t necessarily make sense, I think the two different environments are both gorgeous to look at, if for completely different reasons.

Also on my good list are the musical numbers. I am a sucker for music in films, and I find the way it was used in Strange Magic perfect. It’s a lot like films such as Happy Feet, where it is acknowledged that yes, this character is currently belting out a rock ballad, go with it. (Or in Bog King’s case, complain about it.) They picked some great ones for each situation, though I couldn’t decide if casting was done before they decided to include music, or if they just didn’t care about the quality of the singers attached. I think some of them were fine, others just obviously struggled. But there were also some hard songs in there, so I think even trained singers could have had issues with them.

Okay, now for my issues. The characters are sort of fleshed out, sort of…not. I mean, I love Marianne, and I love the idea of her and Bog… I’m not really feeling how it went down in the movie itself because world wise, it doesn’t look like the two species can work together…or does it? (More on this in the next paragraph.)  I feel like we were supposed to like the fairy king, but honestly I think I ended the movie hating him more than I hated Roland, who I know we were supposed to have strong, hateful feelings towards. Also, Sunny was a little creepy, not going to lie, in the same way that the fairy king was supposed to be this nice but not necessarily bright presence and instead there was a whole lot of passive-aggressive toxicity happening instead in what was supposed to be a girl-power type movie. Again though, I love Marianne, and Dawn at least stays true and consistent to her character until the shoe-horned ending.

Ugh, the world building confused me. I wasn’t sure what was going on with all of the other races, and if everything was supposed to be capable of being inter-species or not. Because if not, we’re going to have serious problems due to this whole need for a thing called heirs. But if so, why the big deal about the princesses ending up with non-fairies? Why are only fairies the options at the ball where Dawn is allowed to dance and whatnot? I don’t get it, and because it’s Lucas, I probably never will. Also, the Dark Forest and the Fairy Kingdom were really walking stereotype cliches and that was just painful. And made no sense as to why they were divided like that, or why there was THUNDER in the forest, but it was sunny in the fields of the fairy kingdom.

Oh, and more world building questions. Why does Sugar Plum Fairy look different from all the other fairies? Why do  primroses only grow at the border, that is a very silly rule for a plant that will grow EVERYWHERE,  speaking from personal experience. Why is the BOG King king of the Dark FOREST? Bogs and forests are not the same thing! Why do some of the goblins like Dawn’s singing but others hate it? How sexists are the fairies that Marianne is considered different/unique and yet why does Bog suddenly find her attractive when really, the differences between her and Dawn are REALLY minor as far as he would have been able to notice in the short time he’s known them? Why do all the men folk with fighting skills seem to live in their armor?

(And a stupid nitpick, why does everyone complain about Marianne’s hair being a mess when Dawn’s is soooo much worse?)

Overall, eh. This is a film that was better in clips than it was once all strung together. I’d love to rewrite it and actually fix some of the mess, but that’s going to be a lot of work and probably not something I am going to invest the time in without the promise of a return. So definitely look up the different musical bits, you’ll get the idea of the story from there without having to cringe through some of the sexist and baffling parts.


Dragon’s Keep Review

This isn’t the first time I’ve read Dragon’s Keep by Janet Lee Carey, and I can’t say for certain if it will be the last. I don’t know what it is about this book that keeps drawing me back in, but I keep going back to it when I crave a high fantasy adventure…and coming away disappointed. So this time, I really looked at what had me going, “Eh…” about it, and what I actually liked about it.

The characters are a mixed batch of royalty, knights, and then commoners. I’ve managed to keep the royalty straight in each read, but every time the knights and the commoners bite me in the butt and I can’t keep people straight outside of their scene. I always have to have a moment of going, “Okay, who is this?” which isn’t what any writer wants. What’s worse is that there are several characters we don’t even meet, and I’m able to remember who they are and how they are important, but not the characters Rose actually deals with. They are cookie-cutters that never got filled out, but are acting in fairly important parts like actual cookies.

With the main characters, it’s a pretty evenly split. Sir Magnus and the king and queen, I knew and I liked. They were fleshed out, they had fairly clear motivations, everything was pretty hunky dory. But I am still confused about our witch character, as far as any of her motivations beyond being an evil witch, boo hiss. Our protagonist and her savior knight? Flat. Flat, flat, flat, flat. There is literally nothing about them I can dig my teeth into as far as real character traits are concerned. I think Snow White, Cinderella, and Princess Aurora have more personality, and those are my least favorite Disney princesses for the very reason that they are nothing beyond the pretty princess! And seriously, we get one little snippet of the hero, but otherwise, he just shows up at the end of this and they are in love, and just… Put down the Twilight and get into the real world, please.

Speaking of worlds, the world of Wilde Island…I like it. It has a King Arthur link with the story of the Pendragon queen of Wilde Island and Merlin’s prophecy about them. There’s a layer of serious authenticity to it, and I would know due to my work with the Arthurian Order of Avalon these last couple of years. I love how the dragons are, and yes, I’m okay that they talk. It’s her dragons, I’m not going to judge. (Wait till you meet my “dragons” in Eresith, you’ll understand.) There are a couple of loose ends, though. Tess’s connection with the witch seems sort of  tossed in. I’m told there’s another book, but I shouldn’t need a second book to understand what’s going on in this book. And Opal, God, OPAL. I swear, there was a subplot that was supposed to explain why she’s different from the others, but it never made it in. Or I hope so, or else I will be ready to throw things.

Plot wise, it was…okay. I mean, about the time we hear of the second prophecy that Merlin made to the dragons, we’ve vaguely figured out where it is going to end. The witch trial took me a little by surprise, but it worked with what we knew of the world, and on a second read it made more sense to me. I think the biggest thing I had with her plot was the amount of TIME she took to tell it. The book is a fast read, but it’s hard to realize that it takes years for all of this to play out. I think if it had been considerably condensed, it would have been much stronger for it. And I’ve already said how there was very little character, but if there had been more of Rose’s motivation, I would have known her as a character better. If condensed, the relationship with her future king would also have made sense.

The subplot with Kat was just an unnecessary mess. I really wish it had been cut, and more depth added to the main plot, especially with Rose and her would-be rescuer. Or modified to fit into the main story better. As it is now, it’s this awkward…thing that sort of sits heavy in the middle of the plot. It also seemed like there was a serious lack of conflict going on with Rose/Briar and her time with the dragons. I understood they were supposed to have this love/hate relationship, but it really didn’t come across well, mostly because we were told a lot more than we were shown about her interactions with them. Okay, we get, Lord what-his-name is being mean to you. But what about the dragonlings? We just aren’t shown enough of them.

Upon more reflection of this book, I’ve kinda realized what it’s a knock-off of. Here me out. At least with the dragons, I’m being REALLY strongly reminded of the first book in the Dragon Chronicles by Susan Fletcher, Dragon’s Milk. If you think about it, they have fairly similar plots if you compare the first half of Dragon’s Milk and the last half of Dragon’s Keep. They are enough alike that I have to wonder if maybe Carey read Fletcher’s and just tried to add her own twist to it, or if it’s just a coincidence. I don’t know. But I guess I keep coming back to Carey’s book because I love the Dragon Chronicles so much, and I keep wanting it to be just as good as them. Which isn’t really fair to anybody, including Carey and myself. So maybe I need to put Dragon’s Keep faraway until I forget I own it.