Friday, 23 December 2016

'Ballerina' Review

When the trailer for 'Ballerina' came out, it instantly became the target of a lot of jokes between those I go to the cinema with and I. There seemed to be no hope for this film but after seeing it, I was pleasantly surprised.

In 1879, a young orphan named Felicie (Elle Fanning) dreams of becoming a ballerina but she lacks any type of training. Alongside her friend Victor (Dane DeHaan), the pair looks to escape and flee to Paris to make their dreams come true. After gaining tuition at the Paris Opers Ballet, Felicie must now put in the hard work to achieve her goals.

'Ballerina' is a French-Canadian 3D animated movie which brings a different animation style to what we're used to recently. Due to this, the style of some of the characters in this form of animation seemed to lack in quality compared to those in other animated films. This can be said for nearly all of the human characters within the film as they stand out from the settings very poorly. It's possible that it's just a different style to what I'm used to but the characters looked to have been designed for a film in the 90's or early 2000's. In saying that, the film's animators do an incredible job of designing Paris pre the Eiffel Tower being finished. The locations and settings all look magnificent throughout the entirety of the film which is part of the reason to why the characters don't look as good. For the designs of the city and designs of inside the buildings, it will be hard to find animation any better than in 'Ballerina'. 

Amongst this animated tale is actually a fairly well-executed story of a young girl achieving her dreams. We see her motives very clearly and the opening scene shows Felicie's willingness to achieve her goals. The film handles the story as if it were any other sports movie. The story is actually very reminiscent of 'The Karate Kid', with several moments mimicking the 1984 film such as the training seeming to be pointless at first. We see some common tropes within this but the film does execute it and adapts it to ballet very well. We see a progression throughout the film from our protagonist as she is not good at all when first starting. At times, her training and trials did seem slightly rushed as the story looked to progress. With the runtime being shorter than an hour and a half, they could have taken more time on this aspect of the film. However, the message of you training hard and persevering to reach your goals is still evident. The film does its job by showing what to do when training for something but also does a great job in showing how it can be wasted. There are ups and downs along the way within sports and 'Ballerina' does a good job at showing this, whilst keeping it entertaining and amusing enough for small children.

Elle Fanning brings the character of Felicie to life, bringing that sweet side of her character to the film. Fanning interacts very well with Dane DeHaan who plays Victor, a hopeful inventor who is in love with Felicie. DeHaan brings an excitement to the film as he delivers a great performance in this film. His character is indeed a fun one which allows DeHaan to do some great work. Maddie Ziegler also deserves credit as she is the main rival to Felicie, Camille. The character was very well written which again allowed the voice work to come in and do a great job. As the film is a kid's animated film, it is expected for there to be some characters who are over the top. Camille's mother Regine (Julie Khaner) is the perfect example of this. Regine is a classic over the top cartoon villain who does bring some laughs. Whether that was the intent is debatable. There are other characters dotted about who our protagonists interact with who are there for random outbursts that will entertain the little ones but not so much for the adults.

The films clearly targeted for younger viewers and this is most evident during the more dramatic and emotional scenes. There are moments where the film builds up for some powerful moments but the film brushes over this very quickly. This was disappointing as the potential was there to create something powerful but the film just solves it instantly. Maybe I'm expecting too much from a film like this but the tools were there so there was no reason for it to not have been executed. This would've improved the story as a whole and wouldn't have taken up too much extra time which wouldn't have hurt either.

Overall, 'Ballerina' was much better than I expected. An adequate children's animated sports movie with some good animation as well as writing and voice performances. However, there are many inconsistencies within this film including in all of those attributes I have just praised. This is not a bad movie by any way and is entertaining enough for a viewing.

Final Verdict = 

So have you seen 'Ballerina'? If so, what did you think of the film? I hope that this review was useful for if you were planning on seeing this film. Once again, thank you for taking the time to read my review, it is much appreciated!

By Angus McGregor