REVIEW: Strange Magic (U) **

PA Photo/Lucasfilm.

PA Photo/Lucasfilm.

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If musicals be the food of love, then Hollywood has feasted many times at Shakespeare’s table.

In Strange Magic, A Midsummer Night’s Dream provides the loose inspiration for a computer-animated standoff between fairies and self-loathing bog creatures, who have been mistreated to Deep Purple.

Gary Rydstrom’s heavy-handed romance might take its initial cue from Shakespeare’s forest fantasy, but it plunders Disney’s 1991 version of Beauty And The Beast for the achingly predictable second act.

Even preschoolers will roll their eyes when the king of the fairies pointedly remarks, ‘Never judge something, or someone, by how it, or he, or she looks.’

Spookily, that’s also true of Rydstrom’s picture.

The detailed, photorealistic backgrounds conjured by the animators cast a heady spell.

Even preschoolers will roll their eyes when the king of the fairies pointedly remarks, ‘Never judge something, or someone, by how it, or he, or she looks.’

Alas, the same cannot be said of a script that refuses to delve beneath the shiny surface of two-dimensional characters.

Princess Marianne (voiced by Evan Rachel Wood) lives in Fairy Kingdom with her flighty younger sister, Dawn (Meredith Anne Bull).

The older fairy – and heir to the throne – is poised to marry hunky soldier Roland (Sam Palladio).

Roland is determined to rule so he ruthlessly exploits a gentle elf called Sunny (Elijah Kelley), who is secretly in love with Dawn.

The jilted groom persuades Sunny to enter the Dark Forest in order to procure a love potion from the Sugar Plum Fairy (Kristin Chenoweth), who is being held captive by the dastardly Bog King (Alan Cumming).

Strange Magic fails to deliver either part of its beguiling title.

The film’s otherworldly designs recall the 1982 Jim Henson fantasy The Dark Crystal and recent computer animation Epic.

There’s no subtlety to the songbook: the heroine immunises herself against future heartbreak by warbling I’ll Never Fall In Love Again.

We know she will because even Shakespeare couldn’t resist an occasional happy ending.

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