Sunday, May 28, 2017

Strange Magic

Year 9, Day 148 - 5/28/17 - Movie #2,643

BEFORE: This film's been on my watchlist longer than any other, I think, mostly because it was nearly impossible to link to, at least until "The Peanuts Movie" joined the list, too - Kristin Chenoweth carries over from that film and makes it possible to finally cross this one off.  Kristin Chenoweth (and also Peter Stormare from today's film) is also in the cast of "American Gods", a TV series (based on a Neil Gaiman book I read) that's one of three or four currently taking up space on my DVR, my hope is this weekend I can get to at least one of them - either "American Gods", "Angie Tribeca" or "12 Monkeys".  Got to clear some space...

I think I figured out why I'm having trouble creating a chain that will go past June 10 and reach Father's Day - it's a lack of material, which sounds funny considering there are still 130 films on my watchlist.  But I'm saving 25 or so horror films for October, there are 15 Sherlock Holmes movies I can't link to, then there are about 20 romance films that seem like they should maybe be saved for February, 12 that make (and lead into) a very rough back-to-school section, and another 15 or so that seem like they'll link to films I want to see in the theater later this year, like "Thor: Ragnarok" and "Star Wars: The Last Jedi".  Add all that to the 13 films that I have scheduled between now and June 10, and that only leaves about 30 possibilities.  No wonder I'm hitting a dead end!

So, I'm thinking I should open things up a bit, and I took a spin through Netflix, to see what's available there.  It seems to be a bit of a mixed bag, and honestly I think I have more viewing options from the pile of Academy screeners at work, but one section that stood out was the list of animated films available there - ones that haven't run on cable yet, like "Zootopia", "Finding Dory" and "The Secret Life of Pets" - I took a spin through the cast lists, and I could easily do a week of animated films on this platform, and still keep the linking chain alive, largely because there's so much crossover in the casts of animated films.

So that's the plan, if I do hit a wall come June 10, I'll slide over to Netflix for a bit, and try not to think of that as negative progress, just because doing this doesn't reduce the size of my watchlist.  My other concern is where do I end up at the close of that week, but it also gives me another week to come up with something - and by June 17 my list could look very different, with more linking opportunities.

FOLLOW-UP TO: "Epic" (Movie #1,854)

THE PLOT: Goblins, elves, fairies have misadventures sparked by the battle over a powerful potion.

AFTER: I'm not exactly sure what the problem here was, but this film was confusing as all hell.  I couldn't keep track of who was a fairy, who was an elf, who was a troll, and so on.  I guess I should have known all this from the way they looked, but since none of them are real, explaining it all could have been very helpful - like, why were the elves smaller than the fairies?  I would think that fairies in general would be the smallest beings, like Tinkerbell in "Peter Pan", while the elves in the "Lord of the Rings" movies are human-sized, so it's all very confusing when this film uses a different set of sizes.  Not to mention that the trolls in "The Boxtrolls" were just a little smaller than human-sized, can we all just get on the same page her?

Maybe it's the fact that they worked in a lot of popular songs, like the ELO song that shares the film's title, also Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody", "Wild Thing", "Can't Help Falling in Love", "I Can't Help Myself" and a few newer ones I didn't recognize (hey, I'm a classic rock guy...)  But this was my problem with putting modern songs in "Moulin Rouge" and "Australia", it messes with the timeline.  Sure, a fairy tale can be set any time, but we usually think of them in conjunction with the Middle Ages, or else they're supposed to be timeless, and dropping in modern-day popular songs takes me out of that mindset.

Then there are all of these crossing love triangles and intersecting crushes, which are made worse by the influence of the love potion (made from primrose petals, though I don't know why it was so damn important to point this fact out...).  When this potion is cast on someone, they fall in love with the first character they see, which of course leads to complications, much like those seen in "A Midsummer Night's Dream".  But there it was the fairies influencing humans to fall in love, and here the fairies themselves fall victim to the magic potion.  You'd think by being magical creatures, they'd have some kind of immunity, but no.  The other problem is that the potion seems like it never runs out, so how many doses are in that vial?  Does it regenerate, or is there always enough in the bottle to fulfill the necessary plot twists?

The love potion also doesn't work if the recipient is truly in love with someone else - if they manage to find true love, then the potion's no good, which seems to counter the whole reason for using the potion in the first place.  But at least we know that if someone can break the spell, the feelings they have for their love are genuine - which is good, because love potions in general seem a little too rapey for a kids' movie.  Kids should at least be teenagers before they learn about the effects of various drugs and alchohol on their inhibitions.

This screenplay came from a George Lucas story, so I was willing to give it a little bit of slack, and I get what they were trying to do with the "don't judge a book by its cover" theme, and the all-inclusive nature of love, how it should extend across fairy species (and therefore transcend human racial and gender boundaries) but with the love potion involved, the story mechanics here are clunky at best.  According to the IMDB the plot incorporates elements of 4 Shakespeare plays, I guess confusion is what you get when you try to shoehorn all that into one story.

Also starring the voices of Alan Cumming (last seen in "The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas"), Evan Rachel Wood (last seen in "Practical Magic"), Alfred Molina (last seen in "The Pink Panther 2"), Elijah Kelley (last seen in "28 Days"), Meredith Anne Bull, Sam Palladio, Maya Rudolph (last seen in "Gattaca"), Bob Einstein, Peter Stormare (last heard in "Penguins of Madagascar"), Kevin Michael Richardson (last heard in "Batman: Under the Red Hood"), Tony Cox (last seen in "Nice Dreams").

RATING: 3 out of 10 talking mushrooms

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