Blue Fox Entertainment
Playing at select cinemas; please check local listings.
The live-action adaptation of Margit Auer‘s School of Magical Animals (Die Schule der magischen Tiere) has a few interesting changes, and the most prominent is the fact this presentation is also a musical. Unless this adaptation does really well in the box office, all that character development I found in this film requires more movies than one to fully realise. Unlike Rowling’s narrative concerning who are the bad guys, the mystery simply involves finding out who is pranking and stealing items from the school.
Aside from a few Easter egg style aesthetics taken from Harry Potter, I can’t help but wonder if Miss Cornfield (Nadja Uhl), a teacher in this institution, is intentionally made up to resemble Rita Skeeter. As for whether she’s a friend or foe to Ida (Emilia Maier), that’s a detail I won’t spoil. The friends she makes–Benni (Leonard Conrads) and Jo (Loris Sichrovsky)–at the school she’s admitted to is special, but not everyone knows it’s a unique institution which helps young ones hone their ability to interact with the supernatural.
In this alternate reality, those humans who break out into song are lucky. They go to a seemingly irregular school and are given talking animals to nurture rather than be Pokémon trainers. I’d say they are spirit guides of native lore because of the many moments where wisdom is being imparted. We meet a fox, tortoise, and magpie, and what they share with their masters is more important than revelling in the magical world. I can hear the term magus spoken a lot, and when translated, the most common word used is trickster.
In that regard, I believe these computer-generated pixies are just that. Their magical nature must be kept secret, but there’s more to them than meets the eye. Sometimes, they behave like curious leftovers from Detective Pikachu and other times, Disney mascots. It’s all cute considering they love singing and dancing. It only affirms my theory they are fairies rather than true fauna.
As for the humans, what’s presented shows that German-made fantasies are not always about the works from the Brothers Grimm! While I’m more acquainted with the traditional lore from the region, I was half expecting to find dwarves, giants, elves, and dragons in School of Magical Animals, but alas there are none. Maybe more will appear in later stories. This film piqued my interest in checking out the books. They’ll reveal Ida’s future faster than waiting for a movie sequel, which is available but not yet ready for international distribution.
3 Stars out of 5