One has to imagine that the mind of George Lucas stopped functioning properly at some point in the mid-eighties. Usually the release of a Disney animation would be a big deal, but this one is being quietly hidden away in January, the month where bad movies go to die. It seems that it was already in production at Lucasfilm when Disney decided to give George all the money so they could make a never-ending series of Star Wars movies, and it was probably agreed that it would be released.
It appears to be set in some kind of fantasy world where every single character is sassy, and edgy, like Shrek done badly. It’s apparently based vaguely on A Midsummer Night’s Dream but if you can get any inkling of that from this trailer then your nuance detection skills are clearly top notch. Can anyone tell what the plot of the film is? It appears to involve some kind of kidnapping between two magic worlds, but who is anyone? HELP. Perhaps before all the dollars rolled in, this was the direction Lucasfilm was heading, to attempt to compete with Dreamworks animation or even Pixar. Or maybe this is one of those personal films that George so often talked about making. We’ll just never know, and even online, there’s surprisingly little information about this film. It’s almost as if Disney are ashamed of it and hope everyone will just got and see Big Hero 6 instead.
It’s been released under the Touchstone banner. You remember Touchstone don’t you? It was the company Disney set up when they released Splash in 1984 so they could distribute films aimed at an older audience. In recent times it’s been relegated to distribution of DreamWorks output and foreign titles like The Hundred Foot Journey and The Wind Rises. To give you an idea of the animated picture they might distribute, have you ever seen Gnomeo and Juliet? That was another Shakespeare influence comedy animation, well actually it was a tragedy but there are fine lines.
The director is 7 time Academy Award winning sound designer Gary Rydstrom who was previously in line to direct Pixar’s Newt before that project was canned. He made his directorial debut with the fabulous Pixar short film Lifted in 2006 so perhaps there’s hope for this project. It’s just that “story by George Lucas” credit that raises so many fears and doubts. Strange Magic stars Alan Cumming, Evan Rachel Wood and Maya Rudoph and absolutely none of them were phoning it in.
Strange Magic is released 11 February 2015 in the UK and 23 January in the US and then presumably locked in a vault for all eternity