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You can add as many story elements about magic as you want, that doesn’t mean movie magic will suddenly appear out of thin air as The Magician’s Elephant abundently proves.

The Magician's Elephant tries mighty hard to be a special coming-of-age charmer. It even has a nice premise, a good voice cast and excellent animation. So why is it that this new animated Netflix film just couldn't get me excited?

Perhaps it's the fact that we've seen this kind of film so often before and that nothing the filmmakers put on the screen has even a whimper of originality to it? Especially narratively the picture veers too much into familiar feelgood territory to keep you interested.

Structurally the film also feels off. The Magician's Elephant at first asks you to believe in a world that is never fully explained, then flatlines with a series of interchangeable challenges the protagonist has to overcome, and finally brings a climax that leaves more questions hanging than it resolves them.

Sure, there are some silver linings: a fun, fourth-wall-breaking Natasia Demetriou, the titular magician's many unsuccessful attempts at magic and a fuss-free attitude to explaining small details (or rather: not). But they cannot detract you from the overall impression that genuine movie magic is nowhere in sight in this underdeveloped, mildly diverting but ultimately pointless film.

release: 2023

director: Wendy Rogers

starring: Noah Jupe, Mandy Patinkin, Brian Tyree Henry, Natasia Demetriou


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