Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES (2-DISC): Disc One: Hidden Magic.
Our hero’s and villains. Magical Voices. Quiz. UK Premiere.
Disc Two: The Sound of Magic. Trailers and TV spots. Re-imagining
the Magic. Storyboard gallery. Cast and crew biographies. Music
of the Magic. Classic black and white TV episodes. Origins of
IT'S been over forty years since The Magic Roundabout first set
about captivating children with its innocent tales of a dog named
Dougal, a cow named Ermintrude and a bouncing, moustachioed wizard
named Zebedee (among others).
Yet given the current trend for reviving old classics, it is
little wonder to find that these old favourites have been dusted
off and given a CGI makeover for the big screen in the hope of
enchanting young viewers once again.
What's surprising is just how enjoyable the result is, given
that the cartoon format of the series didn't automatically lend
itself to a cinematic venture.
But having assembled a fine cast of some of Britain's best actors,
as well as two pop superstars, the makers of The Magic Roundabout
have delivered a good-looking, child-friendly adventure that really
ought to bring Zebedee and co a new army of young fans.
And while it may not stand up to comparison with the best animated
works of the moment - such as Shrek
or The Incredibles - it remains
an amicable entry nonetheless.
The plot centres around the evil sorcerer, Zeebad (voiced by
former Dr Who, Tom Baker), and his dastardly mission to enslave
the earth and freeze it over.
Having unwittingly been released by the sugar-loving dog, Dougal
(Robbie Williams), Zeebad wastes no time in putting his evil plans
into play, also targeting his nemesis, Zebedee (Sir Ian McKellen)
into the bargain.
Therefore it is left to Dougal and
his unlikely accomplices to save the day, as they set off on an
epic adventure to capture three magic diamonds that can reverse
the onset of the permafrost that threatens the existence of The
Enchanted Village and Dougal's beloved Florence (Kylie Minogue),
who has become trapped in the ice.
Helping Dougal, therefore, is lovesick snail, Brian (Jim Broadbent),
opera-singing cow, Ermintrude (Joanna Lumley), spaced-out, guitar-playing
rabbit, Dylan (Bill Nighy) and an affable red train (Lee Evans).
Their ensuing trip sees them having to navigate the bubbling
lava of a fiery volcano, before trekking deep into the heart of
a treacherous tropical temple and across a vast icy wilderness
and snow-capped peaks, all the while being pursued by Zeebad and
his henchman, Soldier Sam (Ray Winstone).
Needless to say, the adventure in question is far-removed from
the mild-mannered antics of the television series, and there are
times when the film feels like it is borrowing a little too heavily
from the likes of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Yet for all of its little flaws, the film remains an engaging
experience, thanks largely to the efforts of its cast.
Nighy, Broadbent and Evans, in particular, lend proceedings an
easy-going charm, even if some of their lines seem forced, while
even Williams helps to ensure that Dougal is likeable (especially
to the little ones).
And it was a measure of the film's success that the children
laughed in all the right places when it was screened early one
Performances aside, the film also looks good with the animation
both inventive and colourful.
And there are even some knowing nods to to the apocryphal stories
surrounding the old cartoon (especially the drug-culture fantasy),
which should keep the adults amused.
These are subtly conveyed, however, making this first and foremost
a film for the children as much as the nostalgic among you.