It is very easy to meet the 'Barbie' films with a lot of dislike and
scorn and they are all very lowly rated here (despite some favourable
reviews). It is understandable to take issue with the dialogue (a fair
few are ropy in this regard), the predictability of the stories, the
odd annoying character, the animation in a few (not all are well
animated) and whether there is enough for adults to keep interest.
Despite not being the main target audience, to me they are mostly better than given credit for, easy to take them for what they are and don't deserve to be dismissed as baby-ish and for little girls only (a very narrow minded generalisation). Are they animation masterpieces? No. Are they among the best films ever made? Again no. Are they worth watching if taken for what they are? Absolutely for most of them. Most of them look good if not having the polish of studios specialising in computer animation (Pixar for one), often great music, good lessons and messages, a good deal of charm, have their heart in the right place and have entertaining characters well voiced (some had actors of considerable calibre like Tim Curry, Anjelica Huston, Martin Short and Kelsey Grammar, all of them terrific in their respective outings Curry especially) and a likable title character that particularly young girls can relate to.
'Barbie and the Secret Door' regrettably didn't much for me. Certainly it is much better than 'A Fairy Secret', 'A Fashion Fairytale' and 'The Princess and the Popstar', it would take a lot for a 'Barbie' film to be worse than those three. However, it is no 'Nutcracker', 'Diamond Castle', 'Island Princess', 'Pink Shoes', 'Prince and the Pauper' and '12 Dancing Princesses'. Despite leaving me indifferent, 'Barbie and the Secret Door' doesn't offend anybody really and passes the time if you have little better to do.
Starting with the faults, the story is too much of a Hodge podge of ideas tried, tested and already worn to the ground, giving a real sense that the 'Barbie' franchise has run out of ideas. It means that the story-telling lacks any kind of surprises, which does take away from properly enjoying it, and that some of it is dull too makes it less forgivable. Also don't think the mix of traditional and modern works, the traditional aspects have moments of colourful magic and a nostalgic quality but the modern aspects are clumsy and juxtaposes far too much with the traditional, can understand what they were trying to do but it was a case of trying too hard to do too much and benefiting more from either or and less is more.
The dialogue has rarely been a strong suit in a 'Barbie' film, even in the films in the better half of the series but not quite among the very best of it. That's an understatement in the case of the dialogue here, which really doesn't flow and the worst of it makes the toes curl. Although the characters are nice enough, the lack of character development makes them bland and archetypal too. The only character that has hints of it and where something relatively different is tried is with the villain.
Was underwhelmed mostly by the soundtrack. There has always been a preference for the more classical music-oriented soundtracks (which is a large part of why the first three 'Barbie' films are in the better half of the series) but having a more modern approach has rarely bothered me. The first couple of songs were upbeat and the villain's song was quite good and the only one to drive the story forward or do anything to the character, the rest despite some surprisingly good visual choreography are ear-bleeding terrible. Again, most of the animation is a long way from bad, but there were a few instances where the bright colours got a little excessive.
Despite how negative this all sounds, 'Barbie and the Secret Door' does have enough to make it watchable. The animation mostly really isn't bad, trust me anything from Video Brinquedo and Spark Plug Entertainment and all the (computer-animated) 'Swan Princess' sequels and those for 'Alpha and Omega' are far worse looking than any 'Barbie' film put together, have never felt physically ill watching a 'Barbie' film, even the ones that are not good. There are bright colours, handsome and imaginative backgrounds and the character designs and movements have natural freedom rather than being stiff. Oh and those dresses are gorgeous and any pre-schooler girl who loves princesses will want to wear them.
Although the story is less than perfect, it does have cute and charming moments and has its heart in the right place. Appreciated the positive messaging, hardly new the messages taught but done in a way that's heartfelt and not like the film is talking at you. The character interactions have their appealing charm and make up for the lack of depth. The villain is a lot of fun, though her trivial punishment was indeed a slap in the face. Along with likable and resourceful Alexa, the grandmother's role was very enjoyable.
Voice acting is pretty good and done with a lot of spirit. Cannot imagine Barbie without Kelly Sheridan (the 'Barbie' films without her did suffer from her absence on top of even bigger problems) and she continues to grow. Ashleigh Ball is another standout.
In summation, not bad but not particularly good. 5/10 Bethany Cox
Barbie and the Secret Door
Animation / Family
Barbie and the Secret Door
Animation / Family
Alexa is a very shy princess from a contemporary, modern kingdom who discovers a secret door that opens to a magical land.
Uploaded By: FREEMAN
Downloaded 42,723 times
September 19, 2016 at 06:52 AM