This article contains spoilers for Mary and the Witch’s Flower — you have been warned!
I went to the theater to see Mary and the Witch’s Flower with an open mind and a few expectations. Were they too high? Maybe, but even for a children’s movie I thought Mary and the Witch’s Flower could do much better. The film lacked charm and the overall plot was confusing, expecting the viewers to jump to conclusions about key plot points.
My biggest complaint was that I was aware of each sound effect as they happened. Mary took a step in the forest and I could tell it was off. Every sound was exaggerated and far too noticeable. Even now, I can still hear every footstep or munch on food echoing in my head.
Also, the movie was cut in a strange way, almost as if there was a lag or the animated characters were missing their lines (which is ridiculous, they’re animated and cannot forget cues or think for themselves). In several scenes Peter said something and Mary responded three seconds too late. These are not things I normally complain about in movies and that’s because I don’t have time to notice them. Maybe I could overlook the poorly executed sound design if the film was solid otherwise. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
While it can be difficult for smaller studios to match up to Disney or Dreamworks it’s not that difficult to tell a well rounded story. I was majorly confused throughout this film. There were no establishing shots of Mary arriving at her aunt’s house, which is confusing when the previous scene was that of a girl who looked exactly like Mary. We also didn’t get to know her.
I tried not to compare this film and Kiki’s Delivery Service, but it was useless. Kiki’s is successful because we get to know her world through consistent exposition. We know Kiki well because of how the plot develops, and we understand her core motivation. Mary was a confusing child, who was eager to help her aunt in one moment and ready to lie about magic in the next.
The world was more confusing than anything else. Magic exists, but because of two very evil people, Mary should never use magic? Also, what was the source magic in the other magicians we meet at the school? When Mary’s aunt falls into our dimension does she lose her magical abilities or did she swear off magic after that event? If her aunt was magical, wouldn’t Mary also have those powers? These are all questions that never come close to an answer.
The only redeeming part of this movie were the visuals. The scenery was breathtaking, and even the character design was interesting and a callback to the Ghibli movies. However, the characters and plot were all so hollow.
I don’t try to ruin other people’s fun, especially when it comes to a movie aimed at children, but Mary and the Witch’s Flower could have been a stronger film overall. The Ghibli movies are successful because they are aimed at children, but still entertaining for all ages. It’s a shame that Mary and the Witch’s Flower was such a let down after it held so much potential.
[Photos courtesy of IMDB.com]