Posts Tagged ‘The Dark Crystal’


Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 4.56.39 PMCP24 film critic Richard Crouse reviews “Still Alice,” “Cake,” “Strange Magic,” “The Boy Next Door” and “Mordecai.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

Alan Cumming: Kids can deal with more darkness than we think

strange-magic-07-636-380By Richard Crouse – Metro Canada

Strange Magic, a new animated jukebox musical fantasy from George Lucas, follows in the footsteps of Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. All are musicals, all are for kids and all feature a villain geared to make young pulses race.

“I do think we underestimate how much darkness kids can deal with,” says Alan Cumming, who plays the film’s chief baddie, the Bog King,

Inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Strange Magic is set in a fairy world where you can never judge a book by its cover.

Cumming’s character, with his glowing eyes and a skeleton that is more exo than endo, certainly embodies the movie’s message that beauty is only skin deep.

“All these kinds of films are based on a tradition that goes way, way back to the Grimm Brothers,” says Cumming.

“In a way, the reason these stories are told is to teach kids some sort of moral lesson. You have to scare people but ultimately show that he has a nicer side to him.”

Lucas, who has a ‘story by’ and producer credit on the film says, “with the Bog King we did tone him down a bit because it is a delicate balance. We’ve shown it to a lot of kids and most of them aren’t affected by it at all. My daughter, who is only 18 months, saw the trailer with the Bog King in it on a screen, not on a TV and she wasn’t moved by it at all. But of course 18-month-olds aren’t afraid of anything yet.

“Kids are not as fragile as you think they are. All the stuff, that it warps their brains, I’m not sure about that,” he said.

“There is a certain reality to imitative violence, which is monkey see, monkey do, and that is dangerous, but at the same time a well brought up kid doesn’t fall into that.”

Lucas, who has been working on this project on and off for 15 years — “I liked to do it in between working on Star Wars and writing scripts and things”— says there are only three moments in the movie that are “bothersome.”

“It has been my experience with my kids that if you sense something coming up you just put your hand over their eyes and usually they’re faster at doing it than you are.”


Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 10.27.23 AMRichard’s “Canada AM” reviews for “Still Alice,” “Cake,” “Strange Magic,” “The Boy Next Door” and “Mordecai.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

STRANGE MAGIC: 3 ½ STARS. “an animated jukebox musical set in a fairy world.”

strange-magic-01-636-380Everyone knows the children of George Lucas, Han, Luke and Leia, will be closing out the year with the December release of “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens.” What is perhaps less well known is that another Lucas fantasy kicks off 2015.

Lucas was inspired by “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” to create the story for “Strange Magic,” an animated jukebox musical set in a fairy world where you can never judge a book by its cover.

Evan Rachel Wood stars as the voice of Marianne, a tough Pat Benatar-type fairy with colourful wings, leather lungs and an attitude. She wasn’t always like that, once she was a gentle fairy princess engaged to the handsome Roland (Sam Palladio) but his unfaithfulness broke her belief in love and now she is alone.

Over in the Dark Forest the Bog King (Alan Cumming), a bad-tempered cockroach looking creatures whose skeleton is more exo than endo, has also lost faith in love. “Love destroys order,” he says, “and without order there is chaos.” To make sure love does not taint his kingdom he imprisons the Sugar Plum Fairy (Kristin Chenoweth), maker of love potions.

The fairy and dark forests collide when a bootleg batch of Sugar Plum’s potion leads to kidnapping and a showdown—and sing-off—between Marianne, the Bog King and their followers.

“Strange Magic’s” story is old fashioned. It’s “Beauty and the Beast” banged together with some Shakespearean farce and even a hint of “The Dark Crystal,” but there is nothing old fashioned about the presentation. The lush animation will blow the retinas off your eyeballs. The creature design owes a debt to Jim Henson and movies like “Labyrinth,” but they are marvelously realized with state of the art CGI and inventive voice work.

Director Gary Rydstrom fills the screen with memorable images, from Marianne splayed across a bed made of a rose bud to the wild kaleidoscope psychedelia of the film’s finale.

Your eyeballs will dance, and with a wall-to-wall musical score made of pop hits from the past fifty years, you might expect your feet to follow, but it’s here the movie doesn’t always deliver. It’s all well and good to transform “I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” into a Broadway style belter but the abominable Muzak version of “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” would have been better left in the vault. The soundtrack plays like a K-Tel album of love songs—everyone from Elvis and Bob Marley to Heart and Lady Gaga are represented—has a Moulin Rouge-ish feel but isn’t quite as effective as Baz Luhrmann’s megamix.

“Strange Magic” takes some simple ideas—beauty is only skin deep and love conquers all—and sprinkles them with fairy dust to create a musical that plays like “Moulin Rouge” for kids.

From epic fantasy to B-movie horrors, elves are hot in Hollywood.

elfBy Richard Crouse Metro – Canada

When we think of elves at this time of year visions of Santa’s helpers fill our heads.

The cute, industrious and diminutive creatures from the North Pole can be seen everywhere in December in Christmas TV specials, greeting cards and movies like Arthur Christmas and Santa Claus: The Movie.

One of the most famous movie elves is Buddy, played by Will Ferrell in the neo-classic Elf.

“You’re not an elf,” says Leon the Snowman. “You’re six-foot-three and had a beard since you were fifteen.”

So technically he’s not really an elf, just a human raised by elves but he has more Christmas spirit than Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder and Blitzen put together.

This weekend, just weeks before December 25, Buddy is joined on the big screen by a very different kind of elf.

“She’s slightly reckless and totally ruthless and doesn’t hesitate to kill.” That’s how Evangeline Lilly describes the 600-year-old “she-elf” Tauriel from this weekend’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

The bow-and-arrow wielding character is new to the J.R.R. Tolkien movie franchise, created by director Peter Jackson and his co-writers Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens.

“She’s our redhead,” says Boyens. “We created her for that reason. To bring that energy into the film, that feminine energy. We believe it’s completely within the spirit of Tolkien.”

Buddy and Tauriel are just two of the many kinds of movie elves.

Elves, or (Gelfling as they’re called in the flick), are the main focus of the Jim Henson film The Dark Crystal.

Dobby the House Elf was voted the No. 1 favourite magical creature in the Harry Potter series by and Thor: The Dark World featured Dark Elves, an ancient race of dangerous beings whose spaceships are powered by black holes.

The cheeseball b-movie Elves features the tagline, “They’re Not Working for Santa Anymore.” Well, if not Santa, then who? Nazis, that’s who.

Finally Tom Cruise consorted with an elf named Honeythorn Gump in Legend, the Ridley Scott film The New York Times called “a slap-dash amalgam of Old Testament, King Arthur, The Lord of the Rings and any number of comic books.”

Swiss actor David Bennett played the feisty elfin sidekick who not only is the protector of the world’s last two unicorns but, along with elves Screwball, Brown Tom and Oona, helps Cruise’s character save the world from the nasty Lord of Darkness (Tim Curry).