Mary and the Witch's Flower - Movie Review

Thursday, June 21, 2018

From Academy Award (R)-nominee Hiromasa Yonebayashi - animator on Studio Ghibli masterpieces Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, and Ponyo, and director of When Marnie Was There and The Secret World of Arrietty - comes a dazzling new adventure about a young girl named Mary, who discovers a flower that grants magical powers, but only for one night. Mary is an ordinary young girl stuck in the country with her Great-Aunt Charlotte and seemingly no adventures or friends in sight. She follows a mysterious cat into the nearby forest, where she discovers an old broomstick and the strange Fly-by-Night flower, a rare plant that blossoms only once every seven years and only in that forest. Together the flower and the broomstick whisk Mary above the clouds, and far away to Endor College - a school of magic run by headmistress Madam Mumblechook and the brilliant Doctor Dee. But there are terrible things happening at the school, and when Mary tells a lie, she must risk her life to try to set things right. Based on Mary Stewart's 1971 classic children's book The Little Broomstick, Mary and The Witch's Flower is an action-packed film full of jaw-dropping imaginative worlds, ingenious characters, and the stirring, heartfelt story of a young girl trying to find a place in the world. (Rotten Tomatoes)

Mary and the Witch's Flower is the first full-length feature released by Studio Ponoc, a company founded by former Studio Ghibli producer Yoshiaki Nishimura. This film had several former Ghibli animators working on it, so I had an idea of what to expect when it came to animation. The classic Ghibli style is definitely there, but the story itself just seemed a bit lacking to me. I did not find myself caring about any of the "human" characters in the tale but did find myself heavily invested in the cats Tib and Gib. If the movie had just been about them, I would have probably enjoyed it more. Overall, it felt like Studio Ponoc wanted to use their first official outing to pay tribute to where they came from and I am actually very interested to see what they do next to build their name in one of my favorite genres.

Rating: 6.5/10
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*Image via IMDB. Summary via Rotten Tomatoes.