Friday, June 10, 2016

"The Last Unicorn" review

Get used to the vapid staring
What is the plot? An unicorn (Mia Forrow), dubbed "Amalthea" in the third act, overhears talk of how the other unicorns have disappeared. As such, she goes on a quest to see if she is truly the last unicorn. Her only clue is that the mysterious Red Bull drove the other unicorns to the ends of the world for unknown reasons. On her journey, she is joined by the wizard Schmendrick (Alan Arkin) and the elderly Molly Grue (Tammy Grimes).

The story is awful. Our protagonist, Amalthea, spends the majority of film doing nothing but vapidly staring off into the distance. Meanwhile, Molly and the "incompetent" wizard have to save the day most of the time. Similarly, Prince Lír (Jeff Bridges) manages to be completely pointless and could have been easily written out. Schmendrick's powers are wildly inconsistent. Sometimes he can use his magic to do things like resurrect the dead and shrink objects. Other times (like the climax), he is completely powerless. The film manages to render the climax an anticlimax due to its use of deus ex machina that spits the face of logic. The majority of third act is the protagonist milling around the villain's castle, which proves to be ungodly boring. The Red Bull, the driving force of the plot, is never explained at all. Where it came from, what it is and how it met Haggard (Christopher Lee) are among the many questions the viewer is left with. How Haggard acts and how he is described by himself and the other characters don't sync up. I know this next part is a story problem, but it warrants an entire paragraph due to how much of a problem it is.

The rules of this world's universe are solely based on the what the plot demands at that moment. The movie pulls out rules that are only mentioned when they are relevant. For reference's sake, prime examples include immortals not being able to see things walking calmly when being attacked by an immortal harpy, cats not being able to get a straight answer when one is being questioned about plot critical information and anything involving unicorns. To worsen this, the movie breaks many of its rules. One egregious example is a butterfly being able to remember seeing the Red Bull when the movie established less than a minute earlier that butterflies can only remember songs and poems.

The characters are a mixed bag. At first, I enjoyed Molly. However upon writing this review, I realized I could not think of any notable character traits she has aside from being an old woman. Schmendrick was enjoyable. Being a lovable underdog helped. I liked Lír largely because he is a traditional hero among a horde of characters who barely count as a characters. However, I felt he should have been more important to the film. Amalthea felt incredibly flat and uninteresting even more so than Molly because Amalthea, as mentioned before, is a passive player in her own story. Haggard was an absolute waste of Christopher Lee. Despite his importance to the plot, he is given never any real character moments aside telling us his character. Even then, it gets contradicted by what we actually see.

The animation is mostly passable. However, there are some major problems. The action scenes never show impacts. For example, Lír being knocked down is represented by him being charged at then cutting to him face down on the ground. This severely lessen the impact of the violence. Also, there is a scene where the animators forgot the draw the wine the characters were supposed to be drinking.

Overall, I did not like this movie. While it is okay for you to enjoy the film, I personally found the flat characters and poor story to ruin the movie for me.

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