The Other Side of Animation 216: Secret Magic Control Agency Review


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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

A studio I haven’t talked about outside of one review is Wizart Animation. This famed Moscow animation studio has made a name for themselves for high-quality animated features from their country. Well, high-quality animation from the country of origin. A lot of countries seem to be stepping up their animation game by putting more time and effort into higher quality CGI fare. If this studio sounds familiar to any animation fans, it’s because they are behind the Ice Queen and Wolves & Sheep films. I only reviewed the first Ice Queen film, and to be honest, I wouldn’t call myself a fan of the studio. Not that I don’t see the effort and talent put into their films, and to give them kudos, I respect the outside film-making elements that they do, like founding an animation school to help revive what was a fruitful animation scene. I might not like many of their films, but I’m glad they are around. So, how have some of their newest projects turned out for them? Well, let’s find out with their newest film Hansel & Gretel aka Secret Magic Control Agency

Directed by Alexy Tsitsilin, this CGI feature is the newest film to start a possible new franchise of films. This film specifically was released in Russia on March 18th, 2021, and got a recent release on Netflix. So, how does this fantastical take on the Brothers Grimm story unfold? Well, you better read the review, or else you will never find out. 

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So, our story revolves around Agent Gretel, voiced by Sylvana Opeis. She is one of the top agents at the Secret Magic Control Agency, an organization that keeps track of all of the magicians and magic users in the world. She is brought in to help find a captured king, voiced by Marc Thompson. The king was captured by a sorceress who uses a lot of food magic named Ilvira, voiced by Erica Schroeder. However, Gretel is tasked with teaming up with her notorious brother Hansel, voiced by Nicholas Corda, an illusionist/con-artist. Things go topsy-turvy when on the mission, Hansel and Gretel end up getting turned into kids with Hansel being voiced by Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld, and Gretel being voiced by Courtney Shaw. Can our child-like duo find a way to work together and save the day before Ilvira uses her delicious ways to take over the kingdom? 

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When you see this film’s trailer, you assume it’s going to be like a Shrek-style film where it’s a parody/comedy on fantasy and fairy tales. Well, it’s not that kind of movie. I know everyone wants to lump in every fantasy comedy with references to fairy tales as a Shrek-rip off, but you have to look into what makes a Shrek-style clone. Anyway, this is more of a fantasy action film with some mild fun with references to other fairy tale stories like Aladdin‘s lamp and Pandora’s Box. So, what is this film’s main theme? From what I gathered, the real theme is about family with a heavy emphasis on the theme of trust. While these are admirable and good themes and morals to have, the rest of the film still needs to be interesting and or at the very least, executed in a way where this premise and setting feels unique. It sounds like a cool idea to have a M.I.B or Kingsman-style organization keeping magic in order, but they don’t do a whole lot with it, nor does it have anything that stands out about it. The film doesn’t do much with its magic setting outside of the food witch, but even then, I always felt like they could have pushed the envelope a little more. The characters are also very typical, and why is it in these types of stories, the sister of the two siblings is always considered the uptight workaholic? Why not the guy? Their arc is a little more interesting when they are kids, but why not start them as kids or just keep them as adults? It would just be more interesting with them as kid agents or fully adult. Not every animated film needs to just have kid protagonists. If you do make them the leads, then make them interesting. I tend to like Hansel a little more than Gretel, but they are still pretty bland. The side characters are also fairly forgettable, and I only find some of them interesting because of who their voice actors are. Seriously, I loved spotting Mike Pollock as the Prime Minister. While I’m not fond of the villain being yet another evil sorceress/witch or whatever, at least I found her creativity and design more interesting with the food magic. I admire the ambition of how grand and creative the story wanted to be, but the problem with making a film for everyone is that if you don’t have the proper execution, then you are going to be a film for no one. It’s 2021, we have almost 30 years of CGI animation and it’s been 20 years since the first Shrek film happened. You need to do a little more than just the bare minimum. I want to see Wizart be the best kind of studio they can be, but when other studios are stepping up their animation game with not only great visuals but also great stories, well, ya need to play ball on the same level. Not to say this film didn’t have any touching moments or moments of endearment, but it’s a mostly forgettable experience. 

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Animation-wise, it looks solid! It’s still not up to par with most animated features from this or the previous decade, but you can tell from their first film to their most recent that Wizart is getting better at their craft. I do think something is up with how characters in this world run because it reminds me of how humans in Shrek would run or how they make characters move in Vanguard Animation films. It’s not quite there, but I think they are getting better. It just needs a little more polish or a little more thought put into how you want the characters to move. The voice cast is solid. I found the lip-syncing to be better than previous efforts, and some of them put in some pretty good performances. They help elevate what is otherwise a fairly forgettable script. Doesn’t hurt to have some pretty talented voice actors. What about the music? Well, the soundtrack composed by Gabriel Hays and Brad Breeck is once again not bad, but I don’t remember any of the tunes or the more distracting pop and rock songs. It all meshed together. 

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Secret Magic Control Agency is one of the better films I have seen from Wizart Animation, but it still doesn’t get better than just, okay. It’s on Netflix so you won’t have a hard time debating if you want to pay the rental fee or not to watch it, but even then, there are better features that just happen to be animated coming out in April for Netflix that makes this one less of a priority. Still, you can find much worse on Netflix than this film. Oh well. Next time, we will be back with another screener, but that won’t be for a week or so. Sorry for all of the blind previews. 

Thanks for reading the review! I hope you all enjoyed reading it! If you would like to support my work, make sure to share it out, and if you want to become a Patreon supporter, then you can go to patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time!

Rating: Rent it! 


imageedit_1_8168493619.jpg

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

A studio I haven’t talked about outside of one review is Wizart Animation. This famed Moscow animation studio has made a name for themselves for high-quality animated features from their country. Well, high-quality animation from the country of origin. A lot of countries seem to be stepping up their animation game by putting more time and effort into higher quality CGI fare. If this studio sounds familiar to any animation fans, it’s because they are behind the Ice Queen and Wolves & Sheep films. I only reviewed the first Ice Queen film, and to be honest, I wouldn’t call myself a fan of the studio. Not that I don’t see the effort and talent put into their films, and to give them kudos, I respect the outside film-making elements that they do, like founding an animation school to help revive what was a fruitful animation scene. I might not like many of their films, but I’m glad they are around. So, how have some of their newest projects turned out for them? Well, let’s find out with their newest film Hansel & Gretel aka Secret Magic Control Agency

Directed by Alexy Tsitsilin, this CGI feature is the newest film to start a possible new franchise of films. This film specifically was released in Russia on March 18th, 2021, and got a recent release on Netflix. So, how does this fantastical take on the Brothers Grimm story unfold? Well, you better read the review, or else you will never find out. 

imageedit_3_2706745357.jpg

So, our story revolves around Agent Gretel, voiced by Sylvana Opeis. She is one of the top agents at the Secret Magic Control Agency, an organization that keeps track of all of the magicians and magic users in the world. She is brought in to help find a captured king, voiced by Marc Thompson. The king was captured by a sorceress who uses a lot of food magic named Ilvira, voiced by Erica Schroeder. However, Gretel is tasked with teaming up with her notorious brother Hansel, voiced by Nicholas Corda, an illusionist/con-artist. Things go topsy-turvy when on the mission, Hansel and Gretel end up getting turned into kids with Hansel being voiced by Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld, and Gretel being voiced by Courtney Shaw. Can our child-like duo find a way to work together and save the day before Ilvira uses her delicious ways to take over the kingdom? 

imageedit_5_2970690064.jpg

When you see this film’s trailer, you assume it’s going to be like a Shrek-style film where it’s a parody/comedy on fantasy and fairy tales. Well, it’s not that kind of movie. I know everyone wants to lump in every fantasy comedy with references to fairy tales as a Shrek-rip off, but you have to look into what makes a Shrek-style clone. Anyway, this is more of a fantasy action film with some mild fun with references to other fairy tale stories like Aladdin‘s lamp and Pandora’s Box. So, what is this film’s main theme? From what I gathered, the real theme is about family with a heavy emphasis on the theme of trust. While these are admirable and good themes and morals to have, the rest of the film still needs to be interesting and or at the very least, executed in a way where this premise and setting feels unique. It sounds like a cool idea to have a M.I.B or Kingsman-style organization keeping magic in order, but they don’t do a whole lot with it, nor does it have anything that stands out about it. The film doesn’t do much with its magic setting outside of the food witch, but even then, I always felt like they could have pushed the envelope a little more. The characters are also very typical, and why is it in these types of stories, the sister of the two siblings is always considered the uptight workaholic? Why not the guy? Their arc is a little more interesting when they are kids, but why not start them as kids or just keep them as adults? It would just be more interesting with them as kid agents or fully adult. Not every animated film needs to just have kid protagonists. If you do make them the leads, then make them interesting. I tend to like Hansel a little more than Gretel, but they are still pretty bland. The side characters are also fairly forgettable, and I only find some of them interesting because of who their voice actors are. Seriously, I loved spotting Mike Pollock as the Prime Minister. While I’m not fond of the villain being yet another evil sorceress/witch or whatever, at least I found her creativity and design more interesting with the food magic. I admire the ambition of how grand and creative the story wanted to be, but the problem with making a film for everyone is that if you don’t have the proper execution, then you are going to be a film for no one. It’s 2021, we have almost 30 years of CGI animation and it’s been 20 years since the first Shrek film happened. You need to do a little more than just the bare minimum. I want to see Wizart be the best kind of studio they can be, but when other studios are stepping up their animation game with not only great visuals but also great stories, well, ya need to play ball on the same level. Not to say this film didn’t have any touching moments or moments of endearment, but it’s a mostly forgettable experience. 

imageedit_7_2296100146.jpg

Animation-wise, it looks solid! It’s still not up to par with most animated features from this or the previous decade, but you can tell from their first film to their most recent that Wizart is getting better at their craft. I do think something is up with how characters in this world run because it reminds me of how humans in Shrek would run or how they make characters move in Vanguard Animation films. It’s not quite there, but I think they are getting better. It just needs a little more polish or a little more thought put into how you want the characters to move. The voice cast is solid. I found the lip-syncing to be better than previous efforts, and some of them put in some pretty good performances. They help elevate what is otherwise a fairly forgettable script. Doesn’t hurt to have some pretty talented voice actors. What about the music? Well, the soundtrack composed by Gabriel Hays and Brad Breeck is once again not bad, but I don’t remember any of the tunes or the more distracting pop and rock songs. It all meshed together. 

imageedit_9_5812705109.jpg

Secret Magic Control Agency is one of the better films I have seen from Wizart Animation, but it still doesn’t get better than just, okay. It’s on Netflix so you won’t have a hard time debating if you want to pay the rental fee or not to watch it, but even then, there are better features that just happen to be animated coming out in April for Netflix that makes this one less of a priority. Still, you can find much worse on Netflix than this film. Oh well. Next time, we will be back with another screener, but that won’t be for a week or so. Sorry for all of the blind previews. 

Thanks for reading the review! I hope you all enjoyed reading it! If you would like to support my work, make sure to share it out, and if you want to become a Patreon supporter, then you can go to patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time!

Rating: Rent it! 

The Other Side of Animation: The Snow Queen (2012) Review

(If you like what you see, check out camseyeview.biz for my other work. If you would like to, consider supporting my Patreon on patreon.com/camseyeview. Thanks for checking out this site and enjoy the review!)

When I started The Other Side of Animation, I was making sure I did more good than bad animated movies. I wanted this to be a positive experience. However, knowing how the internet and people apparently love articles and reviews ripping things to itsy bitsy pieces in a negative/logically hate-filled rage, I made it a rule that I would only review bad animated movies if I personally thought they were downright terrible, with very few if any thing redeemable about them. This is where Wizart Animation’s The Snow Queen fits that rule. Originally released in 2012 in Russia, and 2013 everywhere else, The Snow Queen is a Russian CGI animated film based off of the fairy tale of the same name. It was produced by Wizart Animation, a company located in Moscow. On release, of course, its home country loved it. However, the rest of the world did not. It obviously tried to cash in on the Frozen hype, due to the little blurb on the bottom of the U.S. cover art saying “A Magical Adventure in a Frozen Wonderland”, with a lot of emphasis put on word, Frozen. So, how bad is this movie? Well, I might have my issues with Frozen, but I enjoyed it 10 times more than I will ever enjoy The Snow Queen.

The story revolves around an evil snow queen, voiced by Cindy Robinson, who is freezing the landscape and killing any wizards who could potentially stop her. After killing one wizard, but failing to kill his daughter and son, the story then skips forward a couple of years to the daughter and her brother, who were apparently separated after the death of their parents. The young girl is named Gerda, voiced by Jessica Strauss, and lives in a sweatshop/orphanage. The brother, on the other hand, I guess does chores around the town and also lives at the orphanage. His name is Kai, and is voiced by Marianne Miller. After a troll named Orm, voiced by Doug Erholtz, who you might know better as Gin from the English dub of Bleach, captures Gerda and Kai with some kind of magic from the evil queen, the two children are separated once again. Kai ends up getting taken back to the evil queen’s lair, and Gerda is stuck with her pet ferret and Orm. It is up to Gerda to save her brother and stop the evil queen’s plans from ruling the world.

So, what is wrong with this movie? I mean, I could just leave it at “it’s really bad,” call it a day, give myself a high five, get a drink, and get on with my life. Sadly, I can’t do that. How about we start with the most glaring flaw of this film, the animation? While definitely better than something like Food Fight, the quality of animation is still subpar. The quality is more in line with something from the TV side of CG, like the Star Wars Rebels series, the Dreamworks animated series, or the straight-to-DVD quality films. This means that the film results in a lot of not very fluid movement from the characters. Gerda also has this bad habit of having a dead-eyed look on her face 90% of the time. I find it a tad jarring to see a majority of the older women in this film try to out-bust Jessica Rabbit from Who Framed Roger Rabbit.  While this film does take a lot from the original source material, it feels disjointed and road-tripish. For example, the main characters just encounter individual characters from the original story, leave, and don’t even mention them or reference them again in the movie. Did we see the grandmother and her eternal summer garden? Check! What about the bandits that are led by a young girl and her mom? Check! What about the princess that apparently has an insane father and brother? Double Check! Since it’s only 76 minutes long, it feels like they had no idea how to elongate the movie, and only cherry-picked the events in the film and stitched them together for the illusion of a flowing narrative.

What’s even worse is the titular character, the Snow Queen. She barely appears in the movie until the very end, and even then, she isn’t that compelling of a villain. They try to pull off a Paranorman-style twist with her, but since they don’t do anything like Paranorman,  like build up the mystery, reveal the history of the character, build up the atmosphere, and make them sympathetic in multiple ways, they instead give the viewer an exposition dump in the third act. Once again, combined with her boring personality, she comes off as just another evil female. It’s such a disappointment, since she sounds evil, but that’s just about it. Nothing really stands out from the main cast either. Gerda is a stereotypically strong female character that you saw Warner Brothers try to emulate from Disney, but here they give her no real personality outside of being tough and not wanting to give up. I know we all shout and beg for better female characters, but Gerda is not the correct way of doing this. The only one who actually gets any real sign of a story arc is Orm, the comedic troll. He has a backstory, some personality, and actual progression in terms of character development. None of Orm’s development is handled exceptionally well, since you can see it coming a mile away, but the very little effort there is seen is much more interesting than Gerda or her brother. The voicework is also painful to sit through with Gerda’s one tone, and Orm’s out-of-place accent. Orm sounds like he’s from Boston or New Jersey. The jokes are terrible in this film. None of them have made me intentionally laugh at them. A lot of the same jokes pop up, like the parody of the 300-style slow-motion, but it came off more annoying than funny.

So, yeah, it’s a very generic mediocre experience, but what’s good about the movie? Well, I give the studio credit for not having out-of-place musical numbers. I also think it was at least somewhat noteworthy that they tried to follow the original source material. None of this makes for a good film, but with how Disney always likes to pick apart the original source material for its films based on fairy tales, it’s nice to see more from the source material that you will never see in Frozen.

As if it’s not obvious, I really didn’t like this movie. I am also surprised that the original film is getting two sequels, since it wasn’t good in the first place! The animated film industry will always puzzle me when they think this was a good thing. Oh, and to the people saying this film is great because it has more from the original source material, well, it still doesn’t make the film good. Now then, while this might be the worst film I have reviewed up till now, wait until next week when we review one of the absolute worst animated films of all time. Thanks for reading and see you next time!

Film Rating: Lackluster!