Winx Club is a wildly popular animated series for children by Italian Iginio Straffi and has now finally made its way to the silver screen to tell a grand, unrevealed story: ‘The Secret of the Lost Kingdom ‘. The cheerful candy colors jump off the screen, just like the skipping teenage girls – or fairies – and provide the target group – say, girls from 5 to 15 – undoubtedly an attractive sight. A nice, colorful fantasy world to dream away in. Add to that an exciting story of witches, princes and princesses, and winking references to popular culture, and you have a guaranteed recipe for success.
The adventurous story with witches and tense battles between the Winxes and their princes on the one hand and intimidating, monstrously large insects on the other, makes the film suitable for boys, but it is still mainly a girl’s film, with all that emphasis. on romance, the giggles and pillow fights, and obsessions for looks and beauty. With these elements and comments like “It’s so quiet here, it looks like a shopping center on Sunday”, the film sometimes feels like a “Sex and the City” for girls, which makes you wonder if the right role models are being presented. For example, the Winx’s are all wafer-thin, with spindle legs and arms and wasp waists, while they do have a reasonable chest. In addition, they are dressed sexy, in short skirts, tops and pantyhose, and they often appear swaying their hips. If there are jokes like “I’m way too beautiful to disappear” and “The chance that” he looks at your feet in such a dress is “0”, a parent might scratch his head for a moment. On the other hand, these kinds of “messages” are not picked up by the little ones and they mainly enjoy the cheerfulness and tension in the film. Of course, there is not much wrong with a sexy, self-confident appearance and the behavior of the characters is especially entertaining. What is a drawback of the constant winks and pop culture comments is that this sometimes gives the viewer the feeling that the characters in the film are not really in their own adventure, but act a little and act funny in front of an audience. This prevents complete immersion in the story.
Yet the story is quite enjoyable and compelling, although nothing surprising happens and age-old mantras such as “follow your heart” are used. The scenes at the dark castle are quite ominous and the confrontations with the witch and her monsters are exciting enough. Especially for the target group. Also, the colorful “enchantings” moments, where the Winx change from their normal guises into their super-powered fairy shape, are a joy to experience on the big screen. What is a bit of a shame is that the different Winxs don’t really show up as individuals, apart from Bloem and maybe one or two other Winxes. There are six of these multicultural spice girl fairies, but most of them unfortunately remain a bit faceless and without personality.
For the adults who sit in the room with their children, the story will not be very interesting, but it is also a simple adventure for children. Perhaps it is a good thing for them that Bloem’s foster parents explicitly state that she looks like a bird in a cage, and should do what her heart tells her to do. But there are also some nice story aspects in the film, such as the fact that death is not the end; which becomes visible in the communication and collaboration between Bloem and her late sister Daphne, who appears in a beautifully animated golden spirit form.
The animation is not as brilliant or detailed as the work of the Pixar or Dreamworks studios, but it does the job. The environments and characters sometimes seem a bit flat and plastic, but the animation of things like hair and clothing and various large animals is often still remarkably detailed and fluid. The children who are going to watch this movie will not care much about this. They will especially enjoy watching this grand movie adventure of their favorite Winxes, who will hopefully conquer all evil together; with “not just teamwork, but Winxclub teamwork!”