The Magician's Elephant
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Year Released: 2023
Runtime: 1h 39m
Director(s): Wendy Rogers
Writer(s): Kate DiCamillo (novel,) Martin Hynes (screenplay)
Cast: Noah Jupe, Mandy Patinkin, Natasia Demetriou, Benedict Wong, Miranda Richardson, Aasif Mandvi
Where To Watch: on Netflix on March 17th, 2023
RAVING REVIEW: Stepping into the vast realm of animated films, THE MAGICIAN'S ELEPHANT emerges as another entry that boasts a ton of potential, drawing inspiration from Kate DiCamillo's literary creation. This magical journey follows a young boy's quest to reunite with his long-lost sibling, guided by a fortune teller and chasing after a mysterious elephant. The story explores a kaleidoscope of emotions, ranging from sorrow and cruelty to nostalgia, love, and hope, echoing the complexities of the human experience.
The distinguished Australian studio Animal Logic brought it to life; the studio has been behind several iconic animations. The film offers unique character designs and settings that result in a mixed bag, sometimes feeling new, a stylized treat while also reminiscent of other Netflix animations.
Despite its impressive pedigree, THE MAGICIAN'S ELEPHANT encounters some pitfalls under director Wendy Rogers; a visual effects artist turned filmmaker. The animation feels rigid and lifeless at certain moments, lacking the awe and magnificence one would expect from such a tale. This is only amplified by a story that sometimes falls flat when trying to explore more profound messages. While the film delivers a valuable message for younger audiences, its storytelling could benefit some refinement. You can tell that they streamlined the story to make it more accessible as a family film.
Nonetheless, THE MAGICIAN'S ELEPHANT unveils layers of depth in select scenes; some moments felt nearly as iconic as some classic films. The film's storyline springs from Kate DiCamillo's novel, although, as mentioned above, it’s clear that the screenplay was altered and, at times, shies away from its source material too much.
Amidst the bleak backdrop, the protagonist's unwavering determination shines as a commendable aspect of the film. His steadfast faith in a better future is a sentiment that will resonate with audiences across generations.
In conclusion, THE MAGICIAN'S ELEPHANT is a film that can take you from one end of the spectrum to the next—successfully weaving together an immersive fantasy world. While it may not be a groundbreaking addition to the animated genre, THE MAGICIAN'S ELEPHANT offers a delightful experience for those searching for a heartwarming tale to share with the whole family. The movie's humor and sincere themes make it a prime candidate for movie nights.
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[photo courtesy of NETFLIX]