In a world of fairy tale creatures, magic once ruled the land. As the years passed, though, sorcery has taken a back seat to modern conveniences and technology. When a young elf turns 16, he finds a gift his late father left for him: a magical staff and the spell to bring him back for one whole day.

When the spell only goes half right, they must set off on a magical quest to bring the rest of him back. Can the elves overcome countless dangers before the sun goes down on this resurrection spell? Or will they lose the chance to see each other, forever?

In usual Pixar fashion, the visuals are brilliant. Fantasy creatures of all kinds come to life in gorgeous, whimsical fashion before our very eyes. The setting was fun and exciting, as was the choice to tell this story using magical creatures, instead of the usual human characters.

This film chose to touch on some unique themes that have rarely been attempted in kids’ movies. The loss of a sick parent; the single mom struggling to raise two boys; the realization that your life has gone in unexpected directions; a young boy trying to define who he is ... these are all interesting departures for Disney.

I appreciate their willingness to challenge such tough issues that lots of kids (heck, even most of us adults) battle on a daily basis. Even though this was not their best movie, it was certainly ambitious, in terms of story alone.

The two elf brothers are the stars of the film. Tom Holland (who played the one role he is capable of playing, the shy nerd) plays opposite confident goofball Chris Pratt. The chemistry between the two was palpable, even as they only voiced the cartoon characters.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus was a wonderful choice for the tough and protective mother of the boys. Octavia Spencer was a great choice as the once fearsome Manticore.

These two ladies tended to steal the show when they were on scene, leaving me wanting to see much more of them. The casting was perfect; everyone really sold their performances, which is refreshing these days.

There was some cartoon violence, but none of it was too intense, even for young ones. There are car chases, monster fighting, falls, explosions — general monster destruction and mayhem. None of it is graphic or ever particularly perilous, though.

There is no bad language involved, but a couple of near misses as the expression is suddenly cut off or changed to a magical-sounding word. There is no nudity or sexual innuendo.

It should be noted that Disney has proudly announced their strides to make their movies more inclusive and representative of alternate lifestyles, this time in the way of a subtle mention of a same-sex relationship by one of the characters. It is a quick comment only, but it is obvious and purposeful. Do with this information what you will.

There is no drinking, smoking or drug use involved.

The movie started out a little dry and dull, honestly. When the boys embark on their dangerous quest, though, that’s when it finally picks up. Learning spells and about the magical creatures and history of their world was truly the highlight of the film.

The Dungeons and Dragons obsession of the film was interesting and delightful, nerdy fun as well. The ending will throw you a curveball as well. It easily could have been more satisfying, with very little effort, but the writers realized that’s just what the audience would be expecting them to do.

And they chose not to go the obvious route. It would have been much more of a payoff, but they wanted to tell a story they haven’t told before. Kudos to them, I suppose.

I give it a fantastical 7/10. The kids rated it a 7.5 and 8.5.

Safe for all ages, with themes that will reach all ages, probably even making the parents shed a tear.

Rating: PG for action/peril and some mild thematic elements

Run time: a magical 102 minutes

Wade Modisette is a local husband and father that seeks the best and most appropriate entertainment for his family. A movie connoisseur in his own mind, he seeks to educate his friends and community on quality choices for their family. Find more reviews and information at wadereviewsstuff.wordpress.com.

Wade Modisette is a local husband and father that seeks the best and most appropriate entertainment for his family. A movie connoisseur in his own mind, he seeks to educate his friends and community on quality choices for their family. Find more reviews and information at wadereviewsstuff.wordpress.com.

Recommended for you