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Movie Review

Strange Magic

MPAA Rating: PG for some action and scary images.

Reviewed by: Hannah NeCamp—first time reviewer

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Animation Musical Fantasy Kids
1 hr. 39 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
January 23, 2015 (wide—2,700+ theaters)
DVD: May 19, 2015
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

culture clashes

FEAR, Anxiety and Worry—What does the Bible say? Answer

Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

TRUE LOVE—What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

Kid Explorers™
Adventures in the rainforest! Learn about the Creator of the universe by exploring His marvelous creation. Fun for the whole family with games, activities, stories, answers to children’s questions, color pages, and more! One of the Web’s first and most popular Christian Web sites for children. Nonprofit, evangelical, nondenominational.
Featuring: Evan Rachel WoodMarianne (voice)
Kristin Chenoweth … Sugar Plum Fairy (voice)
Alan Cumming … Bog King (voice)
Peter Stormare … Actor (voice)
Maya RudolphGriselda (voice)
Alfred MolinaActor (voice)
Elijah Kelley … Sunny (voice)
Sam Palladio … Roland (voice)
Bob Einstein … Actor (voice)
Meredith Anne Bull … Dawn (voice)
Robbie Daymond … Actor (voice)
Llou Johnson … Actor (voice)
Director: Gary Rydstrom
Producer: Industrial Light and Magic
Lucasfilm Animation Singapore
more »
Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

This is a story about love. And while it is a great movie for demonstrating how the world views love, I think, as Christians, we must ask ourselves, “What is love?” and “How is our love different from the world’s love?”

The film opens with a brief summary of itself. This is a story of the beautiful Fairy Land (with a lovely fairy princess) and the Dark Forest (a scary bug king) and how love changes them both. A bit cheesy and overplayed, already…

The main character, Princess Marianne is “in love” with a certain handsome young fairy named Roland. They are to be married, but on their wedding day, Marianne sees him kissing another fairy. She is crushed, becomes very bitter, and transforms into a young woman who doesn’t need anyone and proclaims that she will never fall in love again.

Now to the Dark Forest… The Bog King has been hurt in the past and, like Princess Marianne, has vowed that he will never love anyone again, nor will he allow anyone else to love again. Ironically, Bog’s mother is obsessed with finding him a wife. She tells him how much she desires that he should not be alone—just as, in Fairy Land, the Fairy King has been telling his daughter Marianne the exact same thing. Do you see it coming?

The Bog King and Princess Marianne do some “tough flirting”—fighting with one another in order to get to know each other better. Surprisingly, they both lower their guards and fall for one other. I think you have a pretty good idea of where this one is going.

There are certainly some positives about this movie. For example, the Bog King is portrayed as an ugly, mean, and grotesque bug. He makes a comment about how no one could ever love him; he’s too ugly. Princess Marianne tells him that he’s not ugly, and although I believe that their love is extremely shallow, there is a valuable lesson here to not judge a book by its cover.

“…For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” —1 Samuel 16:7

“I’m ugly. Why was God so unfair to me this way?” Answer

Without spoiling the movie, it is interesting to see that once again, Hollywood uses the theme of sacrificial love. “Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends” —John 15:13

On the other hand, there is some wrong thinking that gets plenty of time in “Strange Magic.”

The idea that if you are not married or in a relationship with someone, then you are a problem in need of fixing, is simply wrong-headed and not wise counsel. It often creates terrible problems for young persons, as well as old. The Lord ordains our lives with the most loving care. He promises to never leave us. Therefore we should not worry about one another being “alone.”

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” —Proverbs 3:5-6

We should be trusting the Lord to direct our paths and not trying to direct our own.

There is also the predictable element in the story of a young person defying the counsel and direction of her parent… but everything turns up roses in the end. See “The Little Mermaid,” et al.

And there is plenty more.

Heed the majority of movie critics on this film; it really is not a very good movie. Don’t waste your money or your time on it. Overall, this film is directed toward children while having very adult themes. While being an animated film with beautiful colors, fantastical creatures, and a love story, this film falls utterly short in conveying a positive lesson about love to our children. It must be far more than the lightning-fast, emotionally-based, very shallow kind of attraction that too often fails to endure. They need to learn about love from Ephesians 5 and 1 Corinthians 13, not from “Strange Magic.”

TRUE LOVE—What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

You may have read that the story is supposed to follow Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” (loosely). This will simply go over most children’s heads.

You should know that watching this movie is something like watching a string of music videos—music video covers, actually. Mostly, this was more annoying than fun, however some may enjoy the imitations.

Objectionable content (with kids in mind): Griselda shows off her leg, in a flirtatious manner, and reminisces about when she was younger and “hot.” There is a reference to shaking one’s “booty.” Inappropriate comment is made about a goblin being naked. Marianne goes on a tangent about how horrible Roland was and starts calling him a “son of a…” but is stopped. Roland passionately kisses a bug and gets an antenna in his mouth.

Violence: Moderate / Language: Minor (no profanity) / Sex/Nudity: Mild

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—A visually stunning masterpiece that keeps pace with the attention span of the audience by including sprees of light-hearted silliness. The music also carries you speedily through what would otherwise be long and drawn-out scenes, and the type of music that is fitting for such a silly romp because of its silly, though entertaining, timing in the film. Additionally refreshing to discover was that this movie is not Satanic, and I believe it is, quite sadly, jumping the gun by saying so without examining its multiple elements. It is, however, exceptionally restorative. It may not introduce the viewer to God’s name or person as the object of love, or that having a relationship with Christ is the ultimate and truest form of agape love… but who is to say that people in the real world who act similar to these fictional characters will not one day come to know the author of the love that they found?

The filmmakers touched upon a very important Biblical theme: restoring someone wicked to a state of right thinking. From examining scripture we can clearly see that Ezekiel 18:26 says “When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die.” Now notice, in the very next verse, what it says about the evil person who repents from their evil and does what is right “Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.” more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Luke, age 32 (USA)
Negative—This movie is Satanic. The whole setup of two kingdoms, one of them being dark, puts me in mind of Heaven and Hell. King Bog said that he was evil about twelve times in this movie. In addition, the creatures on the dark side reminded me of demons, and, if you think about it, King Bog had wings; it reminded me that Satan was once an angel, and mostly all the creatures on the fairy side had wings, but mostly they were do-gooders who fell into sin but were repentant and sorry after their deceit was exposed.

Parents do not expose your children to this movie. My son said mom, “I didn’t like it.” There were too many songs. My spirit didn’t feel right watching it. There is an underlying tone. No, children, it’s not okay to love evil. Watch it for yourselves. It is satanic.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Cosey, age 34 (USA)
Negative—Very shortly into this movie I realized, I did not like it. It was a musical—a rock opera cartoon. While visually it was very good, the story was weak, characters were unlikable (even the ones on the good side) and the constant singing was downright annoying. I feel many of the songs chosen didn’t even fit the action going on. I was disappointed in this film.

When I saw the previews, it made me think of “Epic” in terms of how it looked visually, but “Epic” was far better. I did read that another viewer felt very troubled by the film. The only time I heard the bog king say he was evil was in one song he sang, which I believe is an Elvis song. The arrogant Roland is narrated in an Elvis styled voice (however, it is the Bog King who sings the Elvis song).

George Lucas is known to do the good vs. Evil storyline, but what I got from the film was more of a misunderstood bad guy who became bad due to being hurt. There was a good message about seeing beauty where you don’t expect it, and if you do a little research, George Lucas wanted to make this movie for his daughters—Star Wars was for 12 year old boys, “Strange Magic” is for 12 year old girls.

I read that this film is a take on “A Midsummer Nights Dream,” which I am unfamiliar with. There are some odd parts for a kids movie—Roland is caught kissing another woman by Marianne, who is supposed to marry him, and we find out that one creature is female, when we (and other characters in the film) thought she was male. Not a big deal, except the male creature appeared to become attracted to her before it’s discovered she is a she.

That said, while visually beautiful, I just expected something different. Not a fan of the musical or the choices of music. My kids weren’t impressed either.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Andrea, age 42 (USA)
Movie Critics

…This ill-conceived take on Shakespeare's fairy tale makes for one bad “Dream.” …A shrill, garish hodgepodge …there’s virtually nothing about this forced, fractured fairy tale that feels remotely fresh or involving. …
—Michael Rechtshaffen, The Hollywood Reporter

…Strange, indeed, but not magicical… A noxious cauldron of ingredients that shouldn’t have been mixed: fairies, Shakespeare and classic rock. …
—Rafer Guzmán, Long Island Newsday

…“Strange Magic” is jaw-droppingly terrible… [1/4]
—Lou Lumenick, New York Post

You can’t judge a book by its cover, but sometimes a film’s release date tells you a lot. …A kids’ movie coming out anytime except when the kids are all off from school? Um, yeah. Well. OK then. …It’s a lot of nothing. …
—Stephen Whitty, The Star-Ledger (New Jersey)

…The results are nightmarish. …Kids won’t have a clue what’s going on most of the time. … [1½/4]
—Linda Barnard, The Toronto Star

…indeed strange. What’s missing is the magic. …plays more like a very long music video than a feature film…
—Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times

…mostly wholesome, but caution is advised for children. …
—Ted Baehr, Movieguide

…includes oddly psychedelic, kaleidoscopic interludes, which make me wonder whether this flick isn’t so much aimed at grade school kids as it is at college students bored out of their minds (and maybe stoned out of their skulls). …
—Paul Asay, Plugged In

Comments from young people


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