First of all, you should not watch this if you are expecting a mature, serious movie, this here is a movie to a series of books for children. So this movie is directed at children. I will write this review (which is actually my first, but i'll try my best) with that in mind.
I would say that the story is a typical moden fairy tail of a boy and his sister who find a magical tree house and do magic things with it. There were a lot of things that you could expect but after all it is a story for children and as
such, it did a good job. It reminded me a lot of some other movies that i watched when i was younger. The only thing i really disliked was the end but i wont spoil anything here, you just have to see for yourself.
I personally loved the art. In the first minutes i was already thinking to myself "well, this looks pretty good". The animations were pretty good, i loved that scene at the beginning in the classroom (you will know what i mean when you see it).
I dont really know what this category is all about, if it's just about the soundtrack or the voice actors too. I will just write down my thoughts on both.
The soundtrack was not that special but there were scenes when i thought that the music was pretty cool. It also reminded me of some other movies, sometimes it even reminded me of some soundtracks of movies from studio ghibli.
In my opinion, the voice actors did a good job. At the beginning i was thinking that Annie's voice was a little strange but i learned to love it while watching the movie.
The characters themselves were nothing special, either. They were just some mainstream characters in a story for children. (I don't really know what to say to this)
Overall i liked it. I don't think that i liked it because of a unique story or anything (because there is no such thing here) but because i felt really nostalgic while watching it. In a way it was like those movies i used to watch all the time while i was a kid. And i bet, if i had watched this when i was younger, i would have loved it.
"Children are a bundle of possibilities". While adults are too over occupied on the happenings and goings of the real world and have their thoughts rooted down to a sense of realism, the power of imagination of children is a powerful belief that can bring about miracles and sometimes transcend the boundaries of time. Magic Tree House is based on a collection of children's book written by Mary Pope Osbourne in 1992 and after 2 decades has found a way into the Anime world.
It is set in a town of Frogs' Creek and centers on 2 siblings Jack and Annie who one day stumble upon
a tree house filled with books and upon pointing at a location in a book it is able to transport them there. A problem i had with this is the inability to control time, they are teleported to a location but dont have control over the time period but since this is an anime they always end up right where they need to be. Their objective is to gather 4 medallions which will inact a 'miracle' when brought together so they have to travel through different locations to find these medallions, unfortunately it is never pointed out what they stand to gain from this and are purely driven by a sense of justice, to do right, curiosity and to help someone in need.
The Art and Animation was quite decent, not too much sakuga animation was used, character designs were generic and had a kind of experimental feel to them because it seemed the studio attempted to mix both Eastern and Western animation together. An outstanding and probably the main standout point for me was the art directing. Locations were done outstandingly well, the different cities were designed very well and really made up a big back bone of the show.
Seiyuus did exceptionally well, especially Ashida Mana who plays Annie, although originally a singer this was her debut in voice acting and i have to say she did a wonderful job in bringing out the boyish and adventurous side of Annie. Soundtracks were decent enough, it was nice to see them use a dynamic soundtrack that changed depending on the time period.
The personalities of the characters were nicely depicted, they depicted what you'd see in most children put into situations such as this, a sense of wanting to discover and adventure. Jack plays the part of bookworm here, his knowledge on the time period helps to try to keep the audiences on route with the story. Annie however is somewhat hyperactive, and has a somewhat unorthodox lack of fear in the face of great danger and she has a strong sense of justice and of course a strong sense of adventure. Her escapades do warrant them getting into trouble atimes but that is essential in order for the story to progress though, so we can overlook it.
The Magic Tree House is a story of adventure, magic and the power to make miracles happen by simply believing in yourself. It bases strong ethics on friendship, adventure and a need to believe in one self which unfortunately we all seem to lose as we grow up.
This is an interesting adaptation of one of my favorite children's book series. It takes the first quadrilogy (the Mystery of the Tree House arc), but replaces Mummies in the Morning with a loose adaptation of Vacation Under the Volcano, which is unfortunate as Mummies was always one of my favorites. It also includes a really needless B-plot about a classmate of Jack's who has a crush on him and wants him to star opposite her in Romeo and Juliet (totally a play every third grade class puts on).
It also takes several other elements of the series and weaves them in - Peanut from the
second quadrilogy, Teddy from Tonight on the Titanic, Merlin from much of the later series - which was enjoyable to see. It's not a precise adaptation of the books, but aside from the B-plot, it made perfect sense, and was a really charming throwback to my childhood. I'd like to see it dubbed and released here in the US for the children's movie market, but that'll never happen, given the level of violence in the Pirates Past Noon section (the pirates frequently aim guns at Jack and Annie, and at one point try to shoot them). Still and all, it's a nice throwback for American weebs like me who want to relive their childhoods.
Magic Tree House is an American fantasy series by Mary Pope Osborne. The books have done very well, having been translated into over thirty languages. In 2011, Ajia-do animation works produced the first film based on the series. I'll be completely honest, I haven't read these books. I'm not going to know if the film version stays true to the original. I'll be looking purely at how well it stands on its own. With that in mind, let's take a look at Magic Tree House.
We open with a sorceress helping some children in a library. Once they're on their way out she's attacked by a
mysterious wizard and turned into a mouse. We cut to a more recognisable world where our heroes, Jack & Annie experience an incident at school involving chasing a frog. Apparently their teachers are very bad at maintaining order. On their way home, the two stumble across a tree house filled with books that can take them through time and space based on where they want to go from the books. They discover that there are four hidden medallions that they can find to make a miracle happen. While in pursuit of the second they encounter Morgan Le Fay, who tells them of her troubles and enlists their aid. Can they find the medallions and return Morgan's powers?
The big failing of the narrative is that their visits to the various locations while they're searching for the medallions aren't that interesting. Most of them involve the kids wandering around, locating the medallion and getting chased by something. It gets pretty repetitive for a film that doesn't even run for two hours. There's also a lot of bluster surrounding whether or not Jack will play Romeo in a play but there's no reason to get invested in it since there are no real stakes to whether or not he does. Really, the whole thing amounts to a kind of heavy-handed illustration of his whole character arc and how he's learning to be more adventurous. There's also the whole de-powering and transformation of Morgan that kick off the adventure. The most intriguing narrative aspect throughout is wondering why. When the answer does come out it's a big let-down.
That being said, the whole concept is a good one. The disparate settings are also interesting, even though most of them follow the same basic formula.
The cast doesn't have that much to them. Annie is adventurous. Her brother is more reserved and bookish. They're character types we've seen before but there's nothing really wrong with the portrayals here.
The artwork is a bit mixed. I'll use the dinosaur setting as the big example. When they travel to the world of dinosaurs the flora looks good, the scope is grand and the dinosaurs themselves look like they didn't have much effort put into them. Even ignoring the fact that they forgot the feathers, the dinosaurs have blank looks and just look like they were drawn in five minutes. The same holds up throughout the film. You have some stuff that's nicely detailed and others where the art team doesn't seem to have tried.
The acting is perfectly passable. The kids are voiced by Ashida Mana & Kitagawa Keiko. They aren't the best performances but there's also nothing really wrong with them. I could say the same basic thing about the music. It's fine.
There isn't any, nor would I expect a children's film to have any.
That's Magic Tree House. How does it hold up? Well, I can't call it a good film. There are much better out there, including films made for children. That being said, I also wouldn't call it bad. In terms of kids' films it's pretty average. While it has an interesting concept and the visuals can look nice at times, the story is also kind of dull. The characters are over-used tropes and there are just a lot of points where they decided not to bother putting in much effort. My final rating is going to be a 5/10. Tomorrow I'll continue film festival week with Hanare Toride no Yonna.