Back in the sixties and seventies, before the age of Ghibli, Toei still had the ambitions to become the “Disney of Japan”, and was enthusiastically competing with Nippon Animation for that title. It’s not much of a surprise of course that a movie of the Swan Lake once was made. And I’m pretty impressed, actually. It’s obviously a children’s movie, but if you like this sort of stuff then Swan Lake will have you entertained.
The music for starters is fantastic. But really, how can you go wrong when you have Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake as your soundtrack? With some of the best parts of this classical masterpiece, this movie truly is a feast for the ears and it creates a great atmosphere to work with.
Well then, the story itself is a bit unrealistic at times (romantic love story between a prince and princess who happen to meet each other and fall in love. Oh, and let’s not forget the two squirrels who somehow make themselves into important characters…), but it definitely has its charms. The story is well paced and makes well use of its airtime. Although there’s one particular Big Lipped Alligator Moment with ballet-dancing eggs. No, really.
In any case, what made me like this movie the most was the villain: Rothbart. His motives are just plain wrong, but he’s such a fun guy to watch. The characterization for him is just excellent and he’s the one who manages to carry this movie from the moment he first gets mentioned. Now here’s a movie that manages to create a really enjoyable character. The rest of the cast is also pretty enjoyable. Odette may be a bit useless, but it doesn’t stand out too much because of Odin, the Prince and the squirrels (yeah, these two oddballs really have their charms) have their own colourful personalities.
Let me take a bit of time to talk about the ending, though. The progress of this movie is fairly linear and modern fairy-tale-like, but solid. At the end, there’s this big battle between good and evil, which is actually pretty engaging… until the creators suddenly decide to pull a completely random twist that comes right out of nowhere, makes no sense whatsoever and isn’t explained in the slightest. Seriously, there are Deus ex Machina endings, and there’s this. You really have to try to be that bad.
Nevertheless, I like kids stuff once in a while, and this movie perfectly satiated my thirst for them. That ending was just… weird, but the rest of the movie was very enjoyable. This obviously isn’t the movie you want if you’re looking for maturity, but if you like innocent and likable characters, then this movie has them.
|Storytelling:||8/10 – Well paced storyline, WTF-ending.|
|Characters:||9/10 – Great characterization. Villain rocks.|
|Production-Values:||9/10 – Fantastic soundtrack, pretty good animation.|
|Setting:||7/10 – A tad unrealistic, but what else did you expect from a fairytale?|