Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Movie Review: Upside-Down Magic

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Fun for kids
Cons: Overacting, predictable story
The Bottom Line:
Two friends, magic school
In predictable story
Will appeal to kids

Fun, but Could Have Used More Magic

Somewhere on my massive To Be Read Mountain Range is a copy of the first book in the Upside-Down Magic series.  I got it at a book signing fully intending to read it because it sounded like fun.  So when I discovered that The Disney Channel was turning it into a movie, I made a point of watching it.

The movie follows best friends Nory (Izabela Rose) and Reina (Siena Agudong).  The two have magical powers and are excited to be starting training at the famous Sage school for magic.  Reina is very talented with her power of pyrotechnics, so she makes the advanced class.  However, Nory has trouble turning into one animal.  Normally, she turns into two or more at once.  As a result, she gets sent to the Upside-Down Magic class, where she will be made to forget her magic because Upside-Down Magic is dangerous.  The last time someone had an unusual magical ability, they fell prey to Shadow Magic and the school was almost destroyed.

With the two friends apart, they start to struggle.  Nory doesn’t want to give up her magic, and Reina lacks the confidence she gets from her best friend.  What will happen to them?

I figured out most of the premise within the first few minutes.  Okay, so there was one plot twist I didn’t see coming that quickly, but for the most part, the film played out the way I expected it to.  I’m not saying I wasn’t entertained, but it would have been nice to have a surprise or two along the way.

The effects were top notch.  Since the movie involves magic, there are plenty of them, and they were all believable.  That’s pretty standard these days, although you can find some movies that don’t quite get it right, and since this was a made for TV movie, it is nice to see the proper care given to them.

The acting was a bit over the top, even for this Hallmark movie watcher (and yes, I know this is a Disney Chanel movie, so different production companies).  Even Kyle Howard seemed to struggle finding the right tone early on, although he got better as the movie went on.  Everyone just felt like they were being too enthusiastic and trying too hard.

Even though Nory and Reina don’t share much screen time, their friendship is the heart of the film.  And those two actresses truly make the most of the moments they share together.  That’s important since it makes us care as we near the climax.

Kids are quite obviously the target audience for this film, and they will enjoy Upside-Down Magic.  Sadly, it won’t have the same appeal to adults.

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