Review: Barbie and the Secret Door

Barbie and the Secret DoorIf you’ve read my last review of a Barbie movie, you’ll know that I’m not the greatest fan of the series, although my girls most certainly are. And since they, not I, are the target audience for these animated tales, I guess my opinion doesn’t really count for that much – far less than theirs anyway.

It was with a little trepidation, then, that I sat down to watch the latest movie, Barbie and the Secret Door. Released on DVD on September 1st, the movie sees Barbie cast as a princess (but of course!) called Alexa, who lacks confidence in herself, and avoids as much social interaction as she can get away with. Things change, though, when her grandmother gives her a special book which reveals and unlocks a secret door, leading to another, more magical kingdom.

And it’s in this second kingdom that the bulk of the action takes place, as Alexa battles to free it from Malucia, a mean and nasty princess who’s stealing magic from fairies, mermaids and even unicorns to make herself more powerful. Throw in no fewer than seven all-new songs, and it was almost inevitable that the girls would enjoy it. Heather gave it 11 out of 11 which, unknowing Spinal Tap reference aside, is as good as it could get, and Megan loved it too. Every time they’ve watched it.

Here’s the strange thing though – I enjoyed it too! Yes, the story was a bit predictable, but to adult eyes most films aimed at kids are, so it would be unfair to knock it for that. Predictability aside though, this actually had a lot going for it.

The songs, although not in the same league as those from Frozen, were catchy, and fitted well within the structure of the movie. They were also spread fairly evenly throughout, unlike Frozen which seemed determined to get the musical numbers out of the way as soon as possible.

The animation – something I’ve very hit and miss in previous Barbie movies – was pretty good, and had more than a nod to Dr Seuss in the magical kingdom, both in the characters and its landscape. Not a bad thing in my book.

I also really liked the “villainous” Malucia, particularly the scene where we are first introduced to her – that got an actual out loud laugh from me!

All in all, this is definitely one of the better Barbie movies I’ve seen, and not one I’d try desperately to dissuade the kids from watching again. Which, if you’ve seen some of the older ones, you’ll know is high praise indeed!

Barbie and the Secret Door is available to buy on DVD from 1st September 2014.

As part of the DVD launch, Razzamatazz Theatre Schools are putting on special FREE Barbie Singing Academy events where kids aged 3-8 will learn some of the songs for the movie, and improve their singing technique in the process, before putting on a performance for parents and family. The Barbie Singing Academy takes place on Saturday 30th August, with times depending on which Razzamatazz school you attend. More details can be found at 

http://www.razzamataz.co.uk/barbie-and-the-secret-door.

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

Review: Barbie The Pearl Princess

DVD cover for Barbie The Pearl PrincessIt’s probably no great surprise that I’m not a huge fan of the Barbie movie franchise. However, the girls love them, so when we got the chance to review the new Barbie movie, Barbie The Pearl Princess, there was no way I could turn it down.

Barbie appears in this movie as Lumina, a mermaid with special powers that allow her to control pearls, making them dance and glow amongst other things. But Lumina has spent all her life hidden away from the world, living with her aunt on the outer edges of the mermaid kingdom. She dreams of one day visiting the royal palace, and when an opportunity comes up to do just that, Lumina and her seahorse friend Kuda set off on an adventure that brings Lumina more than she bargained for.

The animation in this movie was great, and a real step up from some of the previous Barbie movies I’ve seen. The music was pretty good too, particularly Mermaid Party which managed to sound like a load of recent chart hits without sounding like a rip-off of any of them. The story, though, left me a bit cold – there was no real sense of surprise or danger, and you can probably work out how things end up from the title alone.

That said, I’m not really the target audience, and the girls enjoyed it well enough. Heather gave it a solid 3 out of 5 (although I’m not sure she really understood what I was asking) and Megan has watched it several times, so clearly she enjoyed it too. Also, she got really excited about the posters and trailers we saw in the cinema at the weekend (as well as it’s DVD release, the movie has a limited run at Vue cinemas) which proves how much she liked it. What do I know?

Barbie The Pearl Princess is released on DVD on February 17th. It’s also on at Vue cinemas on February 15th/16th

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!