In a world where budget grade CGI has anyone but the most forgiving audiences with their noses pricked up in disgust, beneath House of Magic’s bargain bin exterior is a film that may not have the appeal of How to Train Your Dragon 2, but will definitely hit home plate with a younger, less discerning audience.
A young and somewhat timid cat is mysteriously abandoned and left to his own devices for survival. Searching high and low, he finally stumbles upon a new home that is populated by all manners of mysticism and gadgetry and the also happens to be owned by a once great magician now in his twilight years. However, the current residents – a territorial bunny and his loyal rodent companion – do not take to the cat (now named Thunder) and plan his swift exit from their home. Additionally, the elderly magician’s nephew will stop at nothing to try and sell his uncle’s house and ship the elderly magician off to a retirement home.
This one is definitely one for the family. It doesn’t have the multi-generational appeal of Pixar’s best and brightest nor the visuals but the simplistic storytelling and basic characters will delight children and is entertaining enough for parents.
The Bottom Line
There’s definitely a hierarchy when it comes to animated features that land up on South African cinemas, and the gaps between the classes is quite dramatic. House of Magic certainly doesn’t carry the budget nor vision of a triple-A release, so know in advance that if you’re over the age of 7, this film is one of the more forgettable titles hitting the big screens this Winter. That being said, there’s a simple charm to the flick that makes it hard to lay any serious complaints. My inner child was delighted at the presentation of the film but my adult psyche was left disappointed that the creators of the film didn’t make any real attempts to grasp at something greater for the film. Simply put, there isn’t any real magic to behold in House of Magic.
The film and all of its elements are one-tracked, the characters just manage to evade one-dimensionality, and the plot feels complete but underwhelming to mature sensibilities. The action is what really sells the film and will keep little minds amused with the greatest of ease. However, go into this knowing that the 3D effects (yes, it’s another 3-D film) are obnoxious and vertigo inducing and this is due to the cinematographer opting for several point-of-view shots for the characters. If there is anything filmmakers should have learned from The Amazing Spider-Man’s barf-inducing 3-D effects, it’s that first-person perspective is a no-no in any shape and form – it should be pleasant enough in a regular theatre of home video experience, but the 3-D makes these scenes a headache to sit through.
House of Magic is a cute distraction from the big blockbusters that have seen their way into cinemas over the last few months. It won’t wow, and might be a better investment on DVD or Blu-ray, but for kids and adults with forgiving standards, this medium-budgeted animated feature is a great release for the holiday break, so use it as an excuse for a day out with the kids, or maybe even with a childish friend.